This Stretch of Oregon Coast Is So Beautiful It Will Leave You Breathless

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The Oregon Coast is famous for its stunning views, charming coastal towns, and awe-inspiring sea life. Every year, tens of millions of visitors travel to see what all the fuss is about. And many end up coming back time and time again as they fall in love with the beauty and lifestyle of the coast.

The northern half of the Oregon coast typically sees the most visitors as towns like Cannon Beach and Newport are only ninety minutes away from major population centers like Portland, Salem, and Eugene.

While the northern Oregon coast is insanely beautiful, there are stretches of the southern Oregon coast that absolutely put it to shame.

So, if you’re ready to escape the crowds and embark on one of the most beautiful stretches of road on the entire West Coast, then it’s time to head down to Brookings and explore the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor.

Arch Rock, a unique sea stack in the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor near Brookings in southern Oregon, United States.
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About the Samuel H. Boardman Corridor

The corridor is a 12-mile stretch of coastline that runs between the towns of Brookings to the south and Gold Beach to the North.

Along the way, you’ll find miles of trails, a dozen pullouts and parking lots, picnic areas, restrooms, and beach access, and stunning views of rock arches, sea stacks, and even whales!

The beautiful Secret Beach in Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. After a short hike, you arrive at this hidden amazing peaceful beach. Samuel H. Boardman, Oregon, USA.
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While there are no campgrounds within the scenic corridor, there is camping at Harris Beach State Park, which is located on the southern edge of the corridor and offers many of the same stunning coastal views.

If camping isn’t quite your style, then there are plenty of lodging options in Brookings, including the famous Pelican Bay Lighthouse.

Must-See Sights Along the Corridor

Given that the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor is only 12 miles long, it’s hard to imagine not visiting the entire thing. But I also understand that sometimes folks are in a rush and can’t stop at EVERY parking lot, so here are some of our favorites.

Lone Ranch Beach

Aerial drone photo of Lone Ranch Beach in the Samuel Boardman Scenic Corridor on the Oregon Coast.
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This stunning beach sits at the southern end of the corridor and makes for a perfect first stop along the drive north.

Here, you can hike down to the beach to explore tide pools and get a taste of what’s to come with numerous sea stacks sitting just off-shore.

If you have the time, hike the short loop trail out to Cape Ferrelo, where you’ll be treated to amazing views up and down the coast, grassy meadows covered in wildflowers during the spring, and one of the best whale-watching spots along the entire drive.

Whaleshead Beach

Whaleshead Beach in Oregon's Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor
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Whaleshead Beach can be accessed from two parking lots. Access from the south lot includes a steep trail that can occasionally be closed, so your best bet is to head another minute up the road to the north lot. From there, it is an easy stroll down to the long, stunning beach that is perfect for exploring.

Here, you can find driftwood and other items washed up from the ocean, as well as plenty of room to spread out and play in the sand.

China Beach

After a short drive up the coast and over the iconic Thomas Creek Bridge, you’ll find the pullout for China Beach.

Getting to this beach requires a steep hike down to the water, but in the end, you’ll be rewarded with fewer crowds and stunning views of the dozens of sea stacks directly offshore.

Natural Bridges

Natural Bridges Viewpoint at Samuel Boardman State Scenic Corridor on the southern Oregon Coast
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Perhaps the most iconic pictures of this entire stretch of coastline come from the Natural Bridges viewing area. After a short walk from the parking lot, you’ll be treated to views of seven natural bridges cut into the cliffs that jut out into the ocean.

If you can visit this spot during the golden hour around sunset, you’ll be in for an absolute treat as the sun sets the cliff walls aglow, adding a whole new level of magic to this already incredible area.

Secret Beach

The beautiful Secret Beach in Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor.
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Secret Beach is probably not the best name for this beach, as it has a main billing on Oregon State Park’s official brochure for the area.

The beach is accessed from a small dirt parking lot from where you’ll take a 3/4 mile trail down to the beach. If you’ve timed your visit right and it is low tide you’ll then be able to walk around some exposed rocks to Secret Beach where you can explore the tide pools and sea life that calls this area home.

Arch Rock

Arch Rock Viewpoints at Samuel Boardman State Scenic Corridor on the southern Oregon Coast
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Arch Rock sits at the northern end of the corridor and is an iconic landmark greeting (or saying goodbye) to visitors driving this stretch of coastline.

Getting to the viewpoint to see Arch Rock requires a short walk along a paved trail from the parking lot. Once there, you can watch as waves pound the rock and wash through the arch and try to imagine how many thousands of years it took for the sea to make its way through the core of that massive sea stack.

About the author
Derek Carlson
Pacific Northwest native, cross-country skier, hiker, mountain biker, wannabe fly fisherman, writer and owner of Roam the Northwest