A lake, a lighthouse, and expansive ocean views are all minutes apart at Umpqua Lighthouse State Park. The State Park campground was our home base during a recent trip to see the Winchester Bay area. A 5-mile radius packs in a plethora of sights; it was more than enough to fill our weekend with sun, sand and plenty of fresh ocean air. The Umpqua Beach Area and Salmon Harbor Marina are additional 100 Steps locations (coming soon!) very near this state park.
Check out the Oregon Coast Lighthouse Roundup.
Even with the hustle and bustle of kids and a dog or two frolicking in the water, this charming lake cannot help but elicit a great sense of relaxation. Perched on a comfortable bench a bit above the sandy lakeshore, you can enjoy a scene of parents lounging on the grassy slopes to the left and teens sunbathing on the sandy beach below. Fishing, kayaking, and canoeing are all common activities on Lake Marie. The day we visited, a fly fisherman danced his line across the water from his inflatable pontoon boat. If you want to actually get your feet in the sand, it’s only about 50 steps – even less if you use the 4 or 5 stairs (but there are no handrails).
Whale Watching Station
Even when it is not the season for whale migration, the view from the Umpqua River Whale Watching Station is worth the stop. My husband and I recently camped nearby, so passed this area several times as we headed into town or to see other sights. Every time, we couldn’t help but slow and pull off, taking in the unique aspects of the expansive scene at various times of day.
Just below the viewpoint, ATVs dart over the sand dunes and around the scrub pines. “The triangle”, oyster beds, and the mouth of the Umpqua River are visible a bit farther out, and the wide open sea – perhaps with migrating mammals! – spreads out to the horizon. An osprey or two might be seen circling overhead, and the Umpqua Lighthouse is at your back. Binoculars are good to have handy, or you can use one of the coin-operated viewers. Several signs at the Station make this an educational venue as well.
Tucked in amongst Coast Guard housing and surrounded by an imposing chain link fence, up close and during the day the Umpqua Lighthouse is not a contender for the most scenic lighthouse. The nearby seascape far outshines this coastal sentinel. But that all changes at dusk! My husband and I rounded the corner one evening and were awed by the spectacle. Streaks of oscillating white and red light beams sparkled out to sea and illuminated the trees towering to the south. It was oddly reminiscent of a high school prom with a rotating mirror ball overhead…but far more romantic!
The step count listed is merely to leave your car and snap a photo. (Note: The photo shown was taken from Salmon Harbor Drive, not the lighthouse parking area.) Lighthouse tours are available, but our visit was just prior to the season so I can’t report the step count or terrain for the tour.