Sunset Bay State Park and the surrounding area is one of our favorite places to camp and tour. It offers fabulous views from rugged cliffs as well as easy-access beach walking. Several picnic tables are easily accessible from the Day-Use Area parking. There is volley ball net for summer, and lots of sand and shoreline to enjoy. The drive on Cape Arago Highway is beautiful without ever leaving your car – but I highly recommend getting out to take a closer look and enjoy the wonderful fresh ocean air. Trails are plentiful throughout the area, but all of them are 2 or more miles long. Here are a few shorter options to consider.
Check out the Oregon Coast Lighthouse Roundup.
Picnic area bridge
A big storm hit the night before we visited this destination. The stream that runs through the picnic area to the ocean first passes through the campground where we stayed. When I saw that the stream bed was nearly full, I decided to visit this bridge to get another view. It is usually not as full (or as dirty!) as depicted in the photo. The bridge is nestled in the trees and leads to a path that continues to the cliffs and rocks on the west side of Sunset Bay.
Bay beach, west end
Beautiful beaches in Oregon are plentiful. Yet most seem to require traversing dunes, driftwood, rocks, or a long uneven path to gain access to the actual shoreline. Not so with the beach at Sunset Bay! Unobstructed sand is right next to the parking lot. The step count above is to the sand. The number of steps from there to dip your toes in the water will vary based on the tide, but in several visits I’ve never seen it more than another 50. Whether to the water, or just along the shoreline you can make your beach stroll as long (or short) as you like.
Bay beach, east end
Alternately or perhaps in addition to walking the south west end of the beach, you can drive to the north-east end of the parking lot and walk the beach from this end. This area is not quite as easy to access, but still easier than most Oregon beaches. It offers an alternate view of bay and rock outcroppings. These are fun to watch after a storm as the spray will cyclically overcome the rocks as it crashes on them from the far side. Nearby cliffs and rocks can be accessed from this end of the beach, and it seems to always have at least one person exercising their canine friend.
Cape Arago Lighthouse viewpoint
We stopped at this turnout yet never left the car on several visits before we decided to get out and follow the path. I’m so glad I did! It leads to a bench which offers spectacular views of nearby cliffs, rock formations in the ocean, and Cape Arago lighthouse across the bay. The vantage from the bench rather than the road really brings you closer to it all.