Impressive sea stacks of all sizes dot many of the 363 miles of the Oregon Coast. You can take in impressive formations along the Northern and Central parts of the Oregon Coast. However, the hidden secret of this amazing place is that many of the best stack rocks are found on the Southern Coast, from Bandon to Brookings.
1. Port Orford Heads State Park
Port Orford might be small in size, but it is big in reputation when it comes to incredible stack rocks. A great place to see them is from up high, in the conifer, fern, and rhododendron forests covering the headland hiking trails running through Port Orford Heads State Park. Easily accessed just a few minutes’ uphill drive off Highway 101, POHSP looks out over sea stacks north and south.
Family friendly trails make for a wonderful way to get sea views from up on high. On windy or rainy days, the trees also can shelter you from the worst of the wind and rain.
On calmer visits—especially days when it’s not very windy—also consider taking some of the side trails out toward the ends of the some of the headlands too.
Either before or after your family hiking adventures, also check out the museum just off the parking lot. Exhibits bring to life the dozens of men who used to conduct rescues in the rough seas around the open-water harbor.
2. Battle Rock, Port Orford
Just as you hit the southern end of Port Orford, pull off to the Battle Rock Wayside Park. A sign commemorates a bloody battle between settlers and indigenous peoples.
The massive rock itself is also a surprise. You wonder how it’s even standing, and what forces carved this strange rock to look the way it does.
The wayside is also a great spot for looking out toward the open-water harbor. If you time it right—or if you just happen to be lucky—you might even see cranes lifting or lowering boats out of or into the choppy waters around Port Orford.
3. Arch Rock, Brookings
About 13 miles north of Brookings, Highway 101 becomes the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. Within just a few miles, the Oregon Coast has packed in countless scenic viewpoints and incredible natural features.
Your first stop? The cliff top viewing area for Arch Rock Viewpoint. A short, accessible trail winds through spruce and fir trees. The main viewing area is fenced off for safety, but you still get incredible views of the massive arch rock below. Watch the surf continue its endless, merciless pounding. As the foam and spray gush through the archway, it’s just yet another blow in a long series of erosion that will, eventually, wear away the top rock, leaving two stacks that stand apart.
Another plus of Arch Rock? The one-third-mile loop trail is family friendly and accessible. For Jodie, getting around with her prosthetic leg was pretty easy.
If more extensive hiking is your jam, the Oregon Coast Trail also has trailheads at Arch Rock and throughout other points of the scenic corridor area. The trail ranges from cliffside forests to beach walks, and you can trek about on as much or as little of the trail as you want.
4. Natural Bridges, Brookings
Just south of Arch Rock, pull off for another showstopper of a viewpoint.
Take the short, cliff-hugging, accessible boardwalk to look down toward Natural Bridges. Nestled in a little scoop of shoreline and surrounded by cliffs, the ocean pounds through seven arches and blowholes.
The broad boardwalk can be a little heady too, as you stare out over the open air, land, and sea. The rush is all the more worth it as you gaze at the incredible natural phenomenon of the sea.
You can also find trailheads for the Oregon Coast Trail at both the north end of the parking lot, and continuing from the far end of the Natural Bridges walkway.
5. Whaleshead, Brookings
Whaleshead has its own road down to Whaleshead beach, but be warned ahead of time that you’ll want a rugged vehicle, at least with AWD, and preferably with 4WD. If you don’t want to jostle down to the beach though, you are far from out of luck. Whaleshead Viewpoint near the highway gives you another way to see the three huge rock formations, no off-roading required.
6. Harris Beach on the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor, Brookings
From huge offshore formations to jagged small rocks that look like teeth in the jawbone of some primordial creature, Harris Beach State Park offers a range of stack rocks.
Harris Beach is a true grab bag of sightseeing and activity options:
- The Harris Beach Campground offers an array of camping options, a trailhead down to a tranquil beach, and an excellent playground for the kids to get their wiggles out.
- Don’t be surprised if the stretch of beach on the north side of the Harris Beach parking lot is full of driftwood.
- An accessible ramp leads down to a stretch of beach.
7. Sea stacks are basically everywhere in Bandon
Whether your Southern Oregon Coast journey begins or ends in Bandon, this small town offers some of the best views and sea stacks not only on the Oregon Coast, but anywhere in the world. Here are a few notable must-sees:
- Elephant Rock: Look straight on at this large, rectangular formation, and soon you’ll see the trunk, ears, and other features that led to this name.
- Face Rock: Throughout Bandon you can find renderings of the indigenous story around how Face Rock came to be.
- Cat and Kittens Islands: Not just a cute name, these curious formations are also part of the same story about how Face Rock came to be.
- Wizard’s Hat: North of Face Rock, the area just down from the Sunset Motel is packed with stack rocks and other large beachside rocks. One of the most well-known is the conical Wizard’s Hat, which looks like it could have come straight out of some curious story from Middle Earth or Discworld.
These are just a few of the stunning sea stacks in Bandon. A great starting point? Head to the Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint. From the free parking lot on the high headland, you can look out over large formations. A wooden staircase down to the beach lets you wander among some of the rocks. During the spring and summer, also keep an eye out for walkable sand labyrinths made by folks helping with the ongoing Circles in the Sand project.
Many of the world’s best sea stacks are on the Southern Oregon Coast
Sure, other places have cool sea stack rocks. But the incredible formations you can check out between Bandon and Brookings are distinctive. Each has its own story. They’re easy to get to, either from a cliffside scenic viewpoint, or down on Oregon’s free public coastline. Best of all? You can drive between Bandon and Brookings in less than two hours, not counting all the scenic stops, of course.
Whether you are focusing on one area or taking in as much as possible of what the Southern Oregon Coast has to offer, you will find world-class sea stacks everywhere you turn. It’s an incredible way for families to explore and travel together, and for kids and adults alike to marvel at some of the world’s most incredible sights.