An entry point onto U.S. Highway 101 in the heart of Oregon’s Central Coast, the community of Reedsport has just about everything you’d want for a day trip on the coast. We’ve visited Reedsport twice this year, filling our long weekends in quaint restaurants along the Umpqua River and finding a family-friendly discovery center and a lovely roadside stop with an interpretive viewing area for the local elk population.
Visiting the Umpqua Lighthouse and Museum
Both times we’ve made camping reservations at Umpqua Lighthouse State Park, once in a heated cabin and once in our new (to us) camper trailer. As the name implies the key attraction at Umpqua Lighthouse State Park is the Umpqua River Lighthouse, a 65-foot lighthouse constructed in 1890 that now operates with a 616 prism Fresnel lens casting it’s white and ruby red signature pattern 21 nautical miles out to sea.
An excellent vantage point for seasonal whale watching, the lighthouse and museum are constructed on the bluffs over looking the Oregon dunes, a popular destination for ATV adventuring (be sure to bring your binoculars). If you go, be sure to purchase tickets for a lighthouse tour inside the gift shop.
Umpqua Lighthouse Tour
Led by museum docents, lighthouse tours are offered year-round between the hours of 9am and 6pm. You’ll learn about the construction of the lighthouse (and the original lighthouse that collapsed when the Umpqua River experienced a flood of damaging magnitude in 1857), how the original keepers worked and lived, and how the light was converted from oil to electricity today.
The two-story museum, housed in the original U.S. Coast Guard station, you can explore hundreds of documents, photographs, and artifacts that present the evolution of the nautical lifesaving practices throughout Oregon’s history. The second floor exhibits are replicas of how enlisted members and officers lived and worked in the facility.
One of the highlights of camping at Umpqua Lighthouse State Park is walking up to the overlook at night. Quite literally a crown projecting beacons of light into the darkness, this photo doesn’t do the experience justice.
While we camped at the nearby state park campground, you’ll find a handful of nearby camping and lodging options. In the morning, be sure to head to the Sugar Shack Bakery for hot coffee and some of the most delicious pastries I have had on my many adventures across the country. For a nearby adventure, go for a hike at the the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.
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