Coos Bay, North Bend to Charleston and Bandon
The Second Part of the Cycling Trip
After surviving the walk across the Conde B. McCullough Memorial Bridge, bicyclists will enter North Bend. Coos Bay / North Bend is the largest metropolitan area on the Oregon coast and offer those cycling all the challenges and advantages of a city. There is more traffic yet there are more stores, restaurants and hotels to choose from. North Bend is also home to a commercial airport (the Southwest Oregon Regional Airport) and a major Casino (The Mill Casino, Hotel and RV Park). Biking along Route 101 will take those bicycling along the Coos Bay harbor and through the older, central sections of both towns.
The cycle ride from the Bridge, into North Bend and through Coos Bay is about 5.5 miles (9 km), but there is another almost 5 miles (8 km) until Route 101 becomes rural again. There are alternatives to biking through this industrial section that are highly recommended (see below).
The rural section of Route 101, The Pacific Coast Scenic Byway, continues south of Coos Bay to Bandon well away from the coast and offers few scenic points (so taking those side trips is important!). Just prior to Bandon is Bullard’s Beach State Park and the Bandon Wildlife Refuge which is the last place to tent camp before Bandon. There is no tent camping available in or near Bandon.
Coos Bay / North Bend has perhaps the largest selection of lodging along the coast. Choose from those located along Route 101 which include small hotels, a casino, and national chains.
Bandon has a wide selection of hotels, ranging from the inexpensive, to the lush, with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.
Camping along this section requires some planning, especially if going directly through Coos Bay and missing the scenic route. Campgrounds are located immediately north of North Bend / Coos Bay, prior to crossing the bridge. Recommended is the Bluebill Campground (only 18 spots) located 1.5 miles north of the bridge. Avoid campgrounds that cater to ATVs.
If not taking the scenic route, the next campground is located at Bullard’s Beach State Park, just north of Bandon, approximately 25 miles south of Coos Bay (all the more reason to take the scenic route – see “Side Trips” below) and 2 miles north of Bandon. Bullard’s Beach State Park is another example of the excellent Oregon State Park System that caters to bicyclists (along with hikers, equestrians, campers and RV’s). More camping information.
The only cyclists not taking the side trip out to Charleston are those who are trying to set a speed record. The trip out to Charleston offers some of the best scenery
on the coast, great camping spots, a view of a lighthouse, fresh fish meals, and a premier whale watching spot.
On crossing the Conde B. McCullough Memorial Bridge, look for route signs leading to the Charleston / State Parks. The signs will lead cyclers to turn right (west) on Virginia Avenue, turn left (south) on Broadway, then right again on Newmark, past the shopping strips, grocery stores, and out of town. Those looking for a little more in-town scenery can try staying on Virginia Avenue, past Broadway to Oak Street. Turn left on Oak, then right on Lakeshore Drive. Follow the windy Lakeshore, which becomes N. Wasson to Cape Arago Highway. Turn right (west) and follow Cape Arago Highway to Charleston. The trip is about 9 miles. Note that shoulders are not particularly wide on this portion of the trip – be careful.
Charleston is a working seaport on Coos Bay near the Pacific Ocean. Take the time to bicycle around and enjoy the authentic scenery. There are many fine restaurants offering freshly caught seafood.
After Charleston, continue cycling west along Cape Arago Highway towards Bastendorff Beach County Park, Sunset Bay State Park, Shore Acres, Cape Arago State Park and lighthouse – all offering amazing views of the Pacific and excellent places to enjoy the unspoiled coast and all it has to offer. Cape Arago Highway continues past Bastendorff Beach, Yoakam Point State Park, Sunset Bay State Park, Shore Acres, and dead ends at Cape Arago (5.4 miles – 8.7 km each way). Enjoy the views along the way as well as the seals and sea lions off of Cape Arago. Cape Arago road is a bit hilly and the shoulders are not always wide.
Camp for the night at Sunset Bay State Park or Bastendorff Beach County Park, that offer a dedicated hiking / cycling camping and are excellent facilities.
The next morning, cycle back towards Charleston (breakfast?), then, just prior to entering town, turn right (southeast) on 7 Devils Road. 7 Devils Road becomes West Beaver Hill Road and ends at Route 101. Turn right (south) on Route 101 and cycle towards Bandon. The trip to Bandon is 22 miles (35 km) from Charleston. The 7 Devils / West Beaver Hill Road portions of the trip are not heavily traveled and do not have much in the way of shoulders. If camping, plan on staying at Bullard’s Beach State Park located 2 miles north of Bandon.
From maps, it looks like it is possible to stay on back roads with very little time on Route 101 from Charleston to Bullard’s Beach State Park, but this writer does not have experience with those roads and cannot comment on that route.