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Oregon's Beautiful Coast: Wilderness and Natural Wonders

Program Number: 11909RJ
Start and End Dates:
8/18/2013 - 8/23/2013; 7/25/2016 - 7/30/2016; 8/8/2016 - 8/13/2016;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Florence, Oregon
Price starting at: $815.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Natural History
Meals: 14; 5 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 5 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

The coast of Oregon is a hidden gem of awe-inspiring natural beauty and remarkable history. Discover the towering headlands, secluded beaches and wild rivers of this secret region with experts who introduce its wildlife, geology and human history, and learn about the exploration and settlement of the rugged coast through lectures and at historic sites.


• At Shores Acres State Park, explore dramatic sea cliffs and learn about a local timber baron’s former estate and an elegant botanical garden that remains with acres of flowers and a serene Japanese pond.
• Visit iconic Heceta Head Lighthouse and watch for seals, sea lions and our summer resident gray whales feeding close to shore, then head upriver to observe the flora and fauna of the Wild and Scenic Rogue River from a jet boat.
• Study the formation of the sand dunes at Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area from a unique perspective within a dune buggy.

Activity Particulars

Casual walks throughout on varied terrain; some standing.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Florence, 2 nights; Coos Bay, 1 night; Gold Beach, 2 nights; Return to Florence for departures.

Coordinated by Coastal Journeys Unlimited.


Sand dunes tower 500 feet above the beach in this area of Oregon’s central Coast, and neighboring Florence offers a perfect point from which to begin an exploration of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, with its lakes and dunes that extend for miles.

Gold Beach

Gold Beach is a small town near the mouth of the Rogue River on the southern Oregon coast. The town offers quiet beaches, pristine open spaces and hiking trails through vast forests. Since 1895, mailboats based in Gold River have been delivering the mail up the Rogue River — this is one of only two rural mailboat routes remaining in the U.S.

Coos Bay

Marine estuaries, old-growth forests and beaches characterize the natural landscape of this historic port city on Oregon’s South Coast. Coos Bay is close to Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, Cape Arago and the fishing port of Charleston.

Florence and Gold Beach: Oceanfront resorts. Coos Bay: Comfortable, modern hotel.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Carol Unser

Carol Johnson Unser has incorporated her love for nature throughout her career as an instructor at the University of Georgia’s Marine Science Center, interpretive coordinator for the National Marine Sanctuaries division of the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration, and estuarine education coordinator for the state of Oregon. In addition to her academic career, Carol is an accomplished artist who has illustrated more than a dozen books, including nature field guides and children’s books.
Meals and Lodgings
   Red Lion Inn
  Coos Bay OR 3 nights
   Gold Beach Resort
  Gold Beach, Oregon 1 night
   Red Lion Inn
  Coos Bay OR 1 night
 Red Lion Inn
Type: Hotel
  Description: On Hwy 101, just 6 blocks north of City Center. Nearby are downtown Riverwalk, ocean beaches and sand dunes, fishing/crabbing, whale watching.
  Contact info: 1313 North Bayshore Drive
Coos Bay, OR 97420 USA
phone: 541-267-4141
  Room amenities: Digital satellite TV, high speed internet and dataports, coffeemaker.
  Facility amenities: Seasonal outdoor heated pool, whirlpool, and exercise room. On-site self-service laundry also available.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Additional nights prior: Call hotel for details. Rate may vary seasonally-call hotel for specific information.
  Check in time: 2:00 PM
  Additional nights after: Call hotel for details. Rate may vary seasonally-call hotel for specific information.
  Check out time: 11:00 AM

 Gold Beach Resort
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: Located right on the beach in scenic Gold Beach, The Gold Beach Resort is a comfortable home from which to explore the southern Oregon Coast.
  Contact info: 29232 S. Ellensburg Ave.
Gold Beach, OR 97444 USA
phone: 800-541-0947
  Room amenities: Rooms are comfortable, modern rooms with televisions, telephones, refrigerators, and WiFi.
  Facility amenities: Complimentary newspaper, WiFi, fitness room, coin-op laundry, indoor pool & spa, and coffee.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Check in at hotel front desk starting at 3 p.m. Orientation in hotel meeting room at 5 p.m. You will be staying at Red Lion Inn that night.
  End of Program:
Program ends at 9:00 a.m., Check out is 11 a.m. You will be staying at Red Lion Inn the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Free at hotel.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Coos Bay OR
  Nearest city or town:  Coos Bay, OR
  Nearest highway: Hwy 101
  Nearest airport:  Southwest Oregon Regional Airport (airport code OTH), formerly known as North Bend Municipal Airport
  From End of Program
  Location: Coos Bay OR
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

Portland to Coos Bay


From Airport




Public Transportation
Sea Port Airlines
phone: 888-857-3276 x7
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


90 minutes 




200 Miles


Sea Port Airlines now offers daily flights between Portland International Airport (PDX) and North Bend (OTH).




From Airport




None - Car Required
Rental Car Agencies
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:





100 miles


Numerous automobile rental agencies operate out of Portland International Airport. Please contact these agencies directly for car rental information.


Coos Bay


From Airport




Hotel Shuttle
Red Lion Inn
phone: 541-267-4141
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


10 minutes 




2 miles


Must arrange shuttle to hotel from airport 541-267-4141

Driving Directions
  Portland to Coos Bay by Car There are several great routes to Coos Bay from Portland: Fastest: Follow Interstate 5 south from Portland through Salem, Albany, Eugene and Cottage Grove. South of Cottage Grove, take Exit 162 (Highway 38) and follow Highway 38 to Reedsport. In Reedsport, turn left onto Highway 101 South and follow it to Coos Bay. Highway 101 will cross the large bridge over the bay and into North Bend. Continue to follow 101 through North Bend. The Red Lion is on the right just north of downtown Coos Bay. Drive time for this route is approximately 4 hours. Most Scenic: Follow Interstate 5 south to Albany. Take Exit 234B and follow Highway 99E to merge with Highway 20. Follow Highway 20 through Corvallis and on to Newport on the coast. Turn left onto Highway 101 and follow it south to Coos Bay. This route will take you along the very scenic section of the coast between Waldport and Florence. Once in Florence, the highway will move inland through the Oregon Dunes to Reedsport and Coos Bay. Drive time for this route is approximately 5 hours.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Welcome to Coos Bay! Registration and check-in.
(Sunday, August 18)
 Arrive To: Arrive at the Red Lion Hotel check-in after 2 pm. Orientation is at 5 p.m. in the hotel meeting room.
 Dinner: Buffet dinner in Banquet room at hotel
Accommodations: Red Lion Inn
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Simpson Reef, Cape Arago, Charleston and Shore Acres State Park.
(Monday, August 19)

Note: Short and frequent walks through parks and along scenic bluffs overlooking the ocean. None of the walks are more than a mile in length, but they add up throughout the day to a couple of miles total. Participants should be able to negotiate uneven ground, beach sand, and rough paths without assistance.

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in hotel breakfast room.
 Morning: Lively lecture on the dynamic geology of the coast followed by a field trip to Simpson Reef at Cape Arago west of Coos Bay. Simpson Reef is the state's largest sea lion and seal haul-out so we'll look for California and Stellar Sea Lions, Harbor and Elephant Seals. We'll also be on the lookout for Osprey, Herons and Bald Eagles.
 Lunch: Lunch at Oregon Institute of Marine Biology featuring their legendary Clam chowder and cheese bread.
 Afternoon: Return to Cape Arago and visit Sunset Bay where ancient tree stumps testify to the powerful geologic forces at play on the coast. Later, we'll travel to Shore Acres State Park to explore the dramatic sea cliffs and contorted trees on this battered headland. The park is the former estate of a local timber baron and his elegant formal botanical garden is still there with acres of flowers, exotic plants and a serene Japanese pond.
 Dinner: Buffet dinner at the hotel.
 Evening: A slideshow will introduce you to the natural history of the southern Oregon coast.
Accommodations: Red Lion Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Oregon Dunes dune buggy ride, Florence and the historic Umpqua River Lighthouse.
(Tuesday, August 20)

Note: Dune buggy ride over towering coastal sand dunes with a stop for a short walk atop one of the highest dunes. Opportunity to explore Old Town Florence on foot, (up to 1 mile), and a climb to the top of a historic lighthouse.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast in hotel breakfast room.
 Morning: Travel north to Florence, stopping in Reedsport, OR Headquarters of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. Ride the 400' dunes in fun and safety on a specially built dune vehicle. Lunch at a restaurant in Old Town Florence.
 Lunch: Lunch at a restaurant in Old Town Florence.
 Afternoon: After some free time to explore the shops, galleries and riverfront of charming Old Town of Florence, we will travel back to Coos Bay stoping to tour the Umpqua lighthouse and a chance to be up close and personal to a fresnel lens, a truly unique experience.
 Dinner: Dinner at the Red Lion Hotel
 Evening: Free evening to relax.
Accommodations: Red Lion Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Check out of Red Lion Hotel; Visit South Slough Estuarine Reserve, Bandon, travel to Gold Beach
(Wednesday, August 21)

Note: We will walk on a maintained trail at the South Slough National Estuarine Reserve and visit the Interpretive Center there. Walk is one mile and elevation approximately 200 feet. We will stop for photo opportunities along the way.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast in the hotel breakfast room.
 Morning: Travel to the South Slough Estuarine Reserve to learn about the vital habitat there. We'll walk through the forest along the estuary to a boardwalk over the tide flats. We'll watch for Heron, Egret, ducks, geese, and other sea birds.Travel on to Bandon for lunch. The beach at Bandon, south of Coos Bay, is one of the most spectacular anywhere. Massive offshore rock formations are home to thousands of sea birds and countless marine creatures.
 Lunch: Lunch at Lord Bennett's in Bandon.
 Afternoon: Continue our trip to Gold Beach, where we will check in to the Gold Beach Resort, our oceanfront hotel there.
 Dinner: Dinner at a restaurant in Gold Beach
 Evening: Before and/or after dinner there will be an opportunity to walk the beach in front of our hotel.
Accommodations: Gold Beach Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Jet Boat ride up the Rogue River, the first in the nation to be designated 'Wild and Scenic River' by the US Government
(Thursday, August 22)

Note: Jet boat ride will feature high speeds, spins and occasional splashes, but it's all done in a very safe manner. Lunch is upriver in tiny Agness, OR.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast in the hotel breakfast room.
 Morning: 64-mile jet boat ride up the historic Rogue River from Gold Beach to Agness, OR a tiny settlement on the river where mail is still delivered by boat. We will be looking for wildlife, osprey, bald eagles, deer, possibly elk and black bear.
 Lunch: Buffet lunch overlooking the river at Singing Springs Ranch in Agness.
 Afternoon: Return to Gold Beach on the jet boat with stops along the way to look at wildlife. The return drive to Coos Bay will have a rest stop at Bandon.
 Dinner: Buffet dinner at the hotel
 Evening: Wrap up our adventure!!
Accommodations: Red Lion Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Breakfast. Have a safe trip home!
(Friday, August 23)

Note: Individual Departures

 Depart From: Check out before 11 a.m.
 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
  Coos Bay OR Chamber of Commerce
For additional information, visit
  Oregon Coast
For additional information, visit
  Southern Oregon Visitors Association
For additional information, visit
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

Crossings: McCullough's Coastal Bridges

Author: Judy Fleagle & Richard Knox Smith

Description: The smattering of bridges along Oregon's Coastal Highway 101 are treasures of architecture and coastal history. The man behind the design and construction of the bridges was Conde McCullough and this book gives bridge lover's plenty of information on each of the coast's iconic bridges.

Lighthouses and Life-saving on the Oregon Coast

Author: David Pinyerd

Description: On of the captivating Images of America series of books, this little book is packed with historic photographs and a wealth of information about the coast's iconic beacons. A great read.

Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast

Author: Jim Pojar & Andy MacKinnon

Description: This is the Bible of Northwest Coast flora. If you are interested in the trees, wildflowers, and other plants of the Oregon Coast, this is the only book that has them all. We carry this book with us in the field and refer to it often.

Sibley Field Guide to Birds, Western North America

Author: David Allen Sibley

Description: When it comes to the many birds that frequent the Oregon Coast, no guidebook is more complete than Sibley's little handbook. With wonderful illustrations and plenty of information, this is the birdwatcher's bible on the coast.

The Beachcomber's Guide to Seashore Life in the Pacific Northwest

Author: J. Duane Sept

Description: Possibly the most concise guide to the myriad of intertidal zone creatures you may encounter on the Oregon Coast. It's not exhaustive, but it is pocket-sized and complete enough to help you identify and appreciate the creatures of the shoreline.

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