Umpqua Lighthouse State Park – Winchester Bay, Oregon

The original Umpqua Lighthouse. Photo courtesy of lighthousefriends.com

The Umpqua Lighthouse was originally constructed on the north side of the Umpqua river mouth, and was finished in 1857. However, the surveyors that had picked that location had never seen the Umpqua river at flood levels – and the original lighthouse tower tumbled down after a brutal  storm in 1863.

Umpqua Lighthouse 2019

After two decades of a dark coastline, the Lighthouse Board eventually approved the funding to rebuild the Umpqua Lighthouse, as well as construct the Heceta Head Lighthouse, her sister to the north. The lighthouses were built simultaneously, and with almost identical plans. Heceta Head was lit first in 1893.

View from the lighthouse today.

Having learned their lesson with the first lighthouse, the second Umpqua Lighthouse was built on a headland above the mouth of the river, where it is the farthest away from a river or the ocean of all the lighthouses along the Oregon Coast.

The rotation mechanism needed to be restored in 1985, but it is still the original mechanism.

The mouth of the Umpqua river at Winchester Bay was finally lit up again on December 31, 1894.

This former U.S. Coast Guard facility built in 1939 was restored by the Douglas County Park Department and dedicated as a public recreation facility on June 19, 1960.

The lighthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. The old housing facilities have been turned into a museum, but the lighthouse is still an active U. S. Coast Guard lighthouse base today.

On site Museum and Gift Shop

Development of facilities for Umpqua River State Park began with trails and a picnic area at the nearby Lake Marie in the 1930s. Access to the small freshwater lake was provided for fishing and swimming. In the late 1950s, the overnight camping area was added.

The campground is small with only 20 hookup sites, plus tent sites, yurts, 2 log cabins, a hiker/biker camp, and well-maintained restroom and shower facilities.

They also have the jawbone of a whale on display because we are fucking savages on the Oregon Coast.

The nearby towns of Winchester Bay and Reedsport, Oregon both have shopping, recreational supplies, and restaurants. We recommend Don’s Main Street Diner right on Highway 101 in Reedsport. Their clam chowder is delicious, and their pies are to die for!

Mmm. Pie.

Nearby attractions include the marina in Winchester Bay with crabbing, fishing, and beautiful views. Reedsport offers grocery stores, river views, and the Umpqua Discovery Center, which is an educational and cultural resource for all ages.

Winchester Bay Marina
Railroad trestle near the Umpqua Discovery Center
Lots of great photo ops nearby!
The whale watching station near the lighthouse.

More information

Umpqua Lighthouse State Park

Don’s Main Street Family Diner

Umpqua Discovery Center

Smith River Falls – Reedsport, Oregon

Smith River Falls

There are five Smith Rivers in the United States, plus the town of Smith River in California. Obviously, Oregon’s Smith River is the best because it has awesome free BLM campgrounds, as well as dispersed BLM land to stay on along the river, including near the Smith River Falls – which are really more like big steps than falls, but falls does sound more impressive.

Steps fit for a cave troll…

…which lives in the adorable heart-shaped cave! <3

Smith River Falls

There are a few privately owned RV parks and campgrounds, which includes a brand new one that will open soon. The falls are about 35 miles from Reedsport, OR, which is the closest town. There is an abundance of farms and farmland along the drive, plus some old abandoned barns that make for some great photo opportunities.

Smith River Highway

I love old barns. Imagine the history! Bucking hay, storing hay, rolling in the hay…

Another barn resisting time.

The local bovine are apparently very particular about their morning and afternoon road-crossings.

These are Great Egrets, or the Great White Heron. They can be seen along the first few miles of the Smith River Highway 

The Great Egrets in flight

This area is very popular with the local people, so it’s fairly busy on the weekends. During the week it wasn’t too crowded, but there were some camping neighbors that could learn a thing or two about camping etiquette…and better taste in music. If you’re going to play it that loud please don’t play crappy music.

Great clean campsites. 

In spite of the annoyances with some of the locals, we had a nice time completely off grid for a few days. Which we are determined to do more often to release our political pressure valve since we won’t have access to news 24/7. It’s better for everyone that way. Which also reminds me…make sure you are registered to vote!

A Short Trip to Central Oregon

A Short Trip to Central Oregon 

One of my favorite things about living the RV life is that we are able to see friends and family so much more now that we are on the road. Living in a sticks n’ bricks, I was working 40 hours a week and by the time the weekend came around and I had a day off to go visit someone, I was too tired to do it. Now – I have the ability to nap on the go (and trust me, I do), so I can go visit anyone whenever I want!

We just left the Oregon Coast and headed towards Central Oregon to Doggysit for my Dad in Prineville. Of course we decided to make a few stops along the way.

On our way out of town, my daughter showed us a super cool World War II Bunker in North Bend. It is within the city limits, but is fairly hidden. The Mr. and I tend to enjoy abandoned places since we have an unhealthy desire for the zombie apocalypse.

I’m not even sure what this sign is saying not to do – but knowing my luck, it probably says No Photography.

The Bunker – Heavily spray-painted and some used condoms. So – in our pretend dystopian world people are still artists and the artists still get laid.

Well, yes. There is a lot of green smoking in Oregon.

“It’s never to late to do the right thing…” Like not painting graffiti on historical buildings.

 

We left the coast by Highway 38, which connects the coast to the I-5 Corridor. Near Reedsport is the Dean Creek Wildlife Area. Dean Creek is a Roosevelt Elk Refuge area, and you can see as much as 120 Elk up close. The animals are so beautiful and noble. This is a stop worth making! 

Roosevelt Elk

Elk Herd

Our next stop was in Cottage Grove. Cottage Grove is a small town close to Eugene, Oregon. One of my dearest friends from adolescence just moved there, so we stopped to stay a few nights and catch up. Our furry kids, Milo and Rusty, were able to meet her furry kids, Liam and Piper. Liam is a Mastiff – he seems unaware of that and thinks he is the size of Piper, which is a Chiweenie. All the kids were a little leery of each other, but nothing too stressful happened – even when Piper let her Chihuahua demon side come out. (Those little teeth are slightly terrifying!) It was a lovely visit, and Cottage Grove seems like a pretty quaint little town nestled against the Coast Fork of the Willamette River. They have a pretty adorable covered bridge right downtown, too.

Liam Wallace – the Mastiff with a heart as big as his head.

Piper – The Chiweenie that is possibly in need of an exorcism.

Rusty making sure to not make eye contact with Piper.

Covered Bridge in downtown Cottage Grove. http://www.cottagegrove.net/history/covered_bridges/

To get from Eugene area to Prineville, we followed Highway 126, which is a gorgeous drive. The scenery is amazing and most of the highway follows the beautiful McKenzie River. We crossed over the Santiam Pass, which still has some snowfall on the ground.

The top of Santiam Pass

We arrived in Prineville two nights ago, a few days before Doggysitting duties begin to make sure all the fur kids will get a long. They’re all doing great! Meet Toby and Sissy.

Little Miss Sissy.

The photogenic Toby.

Sissy sticking her tongue out at the big, stinky dogs, Rusty and Milo.

Next Blog –

Central Oregon Sights!

See you Soon!.