May 05, 2024

A Day Full of Alliteration - Bandon, Bakery & Bullards Beach! (National Parks Trip #3)

This post represents another installment in the series documenting our West Coast National Parks trip in the summer of 2017.  Alan and I, along with our 18 year old daughter, Kyra, logged a total of 8,513 memorable miles of adventure over the course of five and a half weeks during the months of July and August.

The next stop on our West Coast National Parks trip was Crater Lake National Park.  Our destination on this Day #22 was Griffin Park, a county park about 14 miles west of Grants Pass, Oregon, that would be our base camp for a visit to Crater Lake.  Trip planning for this expedition was like working a jigsaw puzzle.  There were quite a few irregularly shaped pieces that needed to be fit together to successfully complete the picture.  From Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park campground, it was a straight shot to Grants Pass which was about an hour and a half to the northeast.  But we had no intention of missing anything along the Oregon coast that had made the trip’s bucket list.  So, back to Highway 101 it was for another jaunt up the coast on a circuitous route that would, eventually, deposit us at the campground in Griffin Park.

Passing Woof’s Dog Bakery in Brookings for the last time, we continued north on 101 past Cape Blanco which had been our turnaround point the day before.  Next up was Face Rock, a sea stack with the features of (you guessed it!) a human face, located just south of Bandon.

If you use your imagination . . .

The coastline in the vicinity of Face Rock was unbelievably impressive.  Sea stacks bestow a unique character and personality on every section of Oregon’s coast, making each stop enchanting in its own special way.  It was while we were working our way up the coast on that trip that Alan and I vowed to return to Oregon for an extended stay.  We were seeing many extraordinary places, but we didn’t have enough time to truly enjoy their beauty and their charm – one of the downsides to a National Parks “sampler” trip like this one.  It became pretty obvious to us that we’d need a whole lot of empty calendar days to do the coast justice.

I would have loved to spend a few hours on this beach by Face Rock.

Following our stop at Face Rock, we drove past Bandon (we’ll be back!) and on to Bullards Beach State Park.  The Coquille River Lighthouse is located at the river’s mouth where it empties into the Pacific Ocean.  Although the tower is closed to the public, the signal room is open on some days of the week, and is staffed by volunteer interpreters.  This sweet little lighthouse was first lit in February 1896, and was deactivated in 1939.  It is now maintained by the Oregon Parks Department as part of the Bullards Beach State Park complex.

Rumor has it that the lighthouse is decorated with festive lights every December.

Following our visit to the lighthouse, we headed back a couple of miles to Bandon, a cute and quaint tourist town that really won my heart.  Since that day was a travel day for us, we were towing the travel trailer and needed to be mindful of parking opportunities.  The kind residents of Bandon provided plenty of space for visiting RVers in a large, free, municipal parking lot in town.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!  Certainly, city government knows that if there’s no place to park, RVers won’t be stopping and spending money in the local shops and restaurants.  Even so, there are many towns and cities that don’t court our business – their loss and ours.  After a stop at the Bandon Baking Company and Deli, we wandered around enjoying the small town’s ambience and its pretty seaside location.  I know it has been nearly seven years, but I’m pretty sure I know who chose what treats at the bakery.  Alan would have gone for the almond croissant; I would have enjoyed the layered fruit bar, and Kyra would have picked the happy little crab.  Some things you just know.

Although we needed to pick up the Coquille-Bandon Highway eastbound to reach Grants Pass, we continued north for another 40 minutes to Cape Arago State Park.  The park is located on a scenic headland jutting into the ocean at the end of Cape Arago Highway.  Honest to goodness, I don’t think Oregon knows how to do a bad job with a State Park.  Cape Arago was interesting to us for its excellent view of Shell Island, a National Wildlife Refuge that’s a favorite hangout of all kinds of sea life – including Harbor seals, Northern Elephant seals, Steller sea lions and California sea lions.  They make Shell Island one crowded, stinky, noisy place – but what a treat for a few landlubbers from the mountains of the northeast!  Our visit to Cape Arago was well worth the detour, and we couldn't have been happier with all of the day’s adventures.

Shell Island was the place to be on a hot summer's day!

The sun was setting behind us as we headed east toward Griffin Park in Grants Pass.  After a quick hop, skip and a jump over to see Crater Lake the following day, we’d be returning to the Oregon coast – which had quickly become a favorite highlight of the trip.



 Open most days about 9 or 10,

occasionally as early as 7, but some days as late as 12 or 1.

 We close about 5:30 or 6,

occasionally about 4 or 5, but sometimes as late as 9 or 10.

 Some days or afternoons we aren’t here at all,

and lately we’ve been here all the time,

except when we’re someplace else,

but we should be here then, too.


The sign above was posted at the Big Wheel Farm Supply & General Store in Bandon, Oregon, where we laughed ourselves silly at all of the funny sayings on the shop’s t-shirts and plaques.  I think the reason this sign was particularly endearing was because it reminded me an awful lot of our actual home life.



  1. I just had to read a post with the word "alliteration" in the title. But you knew that. You also knew I would read it even without your dog whistle call to English majors. Seven years ago, huh? The Face Rock probably has wrinkles by now! Yes, I know you are paying no attention to my smarmy little comments; I'm just jealous that you can develop a post that reads as though it were not asynchronous with nunc tempus. Fun read, lovely photos; for what more can one ask?

    1. Mike, I would like to say that my memory is faultless, but it's not. I rely mainly on my photos, but I do refer to our trip calendar, as well. I have news for you - that rock isn't the only face with more wrinkles!

  2. Mary,,
    Of all our RV travels, I consider the trip down the Oregon Coast to Crater Lake my favorite. You simply don't get views like that every day. I hope to do it again, but not certain about that. Thanks for sharing, and I look forward to reading about your time around the lake. Have a great weekend. Joe

    1. Joe, during our numerous cross-country travels throughout the lower 48, there were two states that Alan and I agreed we needed to go back to for an extended period of time. One was Oregon; the other was Michigan. With luck, we'll be returning to Oregon next year. Michigan is currently on the 2026 calendar. P.S. Don't get your hopes up for Crater Lake - I think you might be disappointed.

  3. Oh, how we love the Oregon Coast! Over 20 years in Oregon, we spent many, many long weekends on the coast (we were only a couple of hours away in Ashland). And then we had the luxury of leisurely trips up and down the coast when we started our full-time travels. It truly is a magical part of the country, and I'm so glad you experienced it. I laughed that you could remember who belonged to which details!

    1. So, maybe you need to go back for a visit - like next year while we're there. Then all four of us could meet and enjoy some of that special Oregon magic together. Just sayin' . . .


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