Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Going Mobile

Coos Bay presents plenty of what we love about Oregon Coast

We’ve seen it all when it comes to the Oregon Coast. Or so we thought.

From Astoria to Brookings, we’ve traveled up and down U.S. 101 for many years, returning often to our favorite spots along the way. But on our latest journey, we were thrilled to discover a new part of the coast near Coos Bay.

It reminded us once again why we love this region so much.

Sunset Bay State Park isn’t right off the highway. It requires a bit of effort to get there, heading west out of Coos Bay. That’s probably why we’ve always passed it by. But after spending a few days exploring the rugged, wildly beautiful shoreline, the area has carved out a special place in our Oregon Coast memory book. Here are some highlights:

Cool campground: Pulling into our full hookup site, we felt a tiny bit disoriented. We’d just spent several days enjoying unseasonably warm weather at awesome Harris Beach State Park in Brookings, and when we pulled into Sunset Bay, thick clouds hung over our spot. On the bright side, our roomy camp was rimmed by shrubs, offering the kind of leafy privacy we truly appreciate.

John built blazing fires every evening and Leslie made meals from ingredients picked up from the impressive food co-op in Coos Bay. Mmm, that fire-roasted squash and sautéed kale were a tasty compliment to halibut cheeks in lemon-caper butter sauce.

Outdoor options:  The sprawling park covers a lot of territory, almost all of it with striking views of the ocean. The namesake Sunset Bay is short walk from the campground. Its relatively calm waters are popular with kayakers and standup paddle boarders. We watched one family paddle out and ride the gentle waves back in when the kids got cold. More than 10 miles of trails stretch out to Cape Arago, with many meandering high above the surf along dramatic cliffs. John explored the area on two wheels, stopping at nearby Shore Acres State Park, a beautiful spot with a formal garden that was once home to the expansive estate of timber baron Louis Simpson. There’s even a public golf course near the campground.

Beyond the sea: The remote location meant that we were completely out of cell range, so we were fully immersed in the outdoor experience. When Leslie needed to do some work online, she headed into town in the car and took advantage of the free WiFi in the Walmart parking lot after picking up some groceries. She noticed that the busy location had more RVs boondocking than she’d ever seen, at least a dozen. Not all Walmart locations allow overnight camping, but this one was definitely hopping.

She also passed at least six RV parks on the road into town, including upscale Bay Point Landing. Another stellar spot was the Charleston Marina RV Park, which is perfectly situated for those interested in fishing or crabbing, with plenty of room to park your boat next to your home on wheels.

Fancy seeing you here: While doing chores around the camp, Leslie heard someone call her name. It was Bethe Bowman and chef Anna Vogel from Italia Trattoria in Spokane! Talk about a small world. They were on a short vacation after working nearly nonstop since the beginning of the pandemic. We enjoyed visiting with them over breakfast the next morning. You can read more about their RV journey in an upcoming Going Mobile column.

Hello, sunshine: On our final day, the sun made an appearance and we saw the place in a whole new light. Not going to lie, the warmer weather made us love the place even more. Before you go, it’s essential to plan ahead. During the COVID-19 crisis, reservations are required.

Want more? For more of our Oregon Coast favorites, be sure to check us out at

Leslie Kelly
Leslie Kelly is a freelance writer.