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Oregon's Beautiful Coast: Wilderness and Natural Wonders

Program Number: 11909RJ
Start and End Dates:
8/18/2014 - 8/23/2014;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Florence, Oregon
Price starting at: $899.00 - 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.
Meals and Lodgings
   The Driftwood Shores Resort
  Florence, OR 2 nights
   Red Lion Inn
  Coos Bay OR 1 night
   Gold Beach Resort
  Gold Beach, Oregon 2 nights
 The Driftwood Shores Resort
Type: Resort
  Description: In the heart of the Oregon Coast, spectacular views, 10 miles of un-interrupted beach, golfing, fishing and the Oregon Dunes and lakes nearby.
  Contact info: 88416 First Ave
Florence, OR 97439 USA
phone: 800-422-5091
  Room amenities: Ocean view, patio or deck, hairdryers, ironing board/iron, coffee makers, TV.Refrigerators & Microwaves in every room
  Facility amenities: Indoor heated pool and jacuzzi, restaurant and lounge
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: must ask hotel sales manager Contact hotel directly for Road Scholar pre/post program rates. Ask for Beth Campbell
  Check in time: 4:00 PM

 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

 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
  Additional nights after: Contact hotel for information. Please contract the resort directly for reservations.
  Check out time: 11:00 AM

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 The Driftwood Shores Resort that night.
  End of Program:
Program ends at arrival in Florence, approximately around 11 or 11:30am. You will be staying at Gold Beach Resort the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Free at hotel.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Florence, OR
  Nearest city or town:  Eugene, Oregon
  Nearest highway: Hwy 101
  Nearest airport:  Eugene, Oregon
  From End of Program
  Location: Florence, OR
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

Eugene to Florence


From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
phone: 541-461-7959
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


90 minutes 




70 Miles


Reservations made ahead of time. If possible at same time as traveling companion(s) to share costs. huttle will go directly from Eugene Airport to Driftwood Shores Resort in Florence.




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.

Driving Directions
  Portland to Florence by Car There are several great routes to Florence from Portland: Fastest: Follow Interstate 5 south from Portland through Salem, Albany, to Eugene. Take Exit (Highway 126 west) and follow Highway 126 to Florence. In Florence, turn right onto Highway 101 North and follow it to Heceta Beach Road. Make a left turn on Heceta Beach Road. Follow signs to Driftwood Shores Resort on the ocean (about 2 miles). Drive time for this route is approximately 3.5 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 toward Florence. This route will take you along the very scenic section of the coast between Waldport and Florence. On the northern edge of Florence is Heceta Beach Road. Turn right and follow signs to resort. Drive time for this route is approximately 4 hours.
  to Florence from points east and south by car If you are driving from California or points south/east, these are two alternatives: drive north on Interstate-5; take exit Route 126 west; route joins Highway 101 in Florence. Follow 101 North through town, turn left on Heceta Beach Road. Follow signs to the resort. Drive time from I-5 is approximately 1.5 hours. The second alternative route from points south is Highway 101 north along the beautiful coast. This route is slower than the interstate, but very scenic. Highway 101 from Northern California and along the South Coast of Oregon has many curves and hills. There are not many passing lanes and summertime can be especially slow when RV's and motorhomes are more likely to be on the road. But if you have the time, it is one of America's most scenic drives.
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 Florence! Registration and check-in.
(Monday, August 18)
 Arrive To: Arrive at the Driftwood Shores Resort. Check-in at hotel lobby after 2 pm. Orientation is at 5 p.m. in the hotel meeting room.
 Dinner: Buffet dinner in Banquet room at hotel upstairs above the resort's restaurant.
Accommodations: The Driftwood Shores Resort
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Oregon Dunes dune buggy ride, Florence and the historic Heceta Head Lighthouse.
(Tuesday, August 19)

Note: None of the walks are more than a mile in length, but they add up throughout the day to a couple of miles. Participants should be able to negotiate uneven ground, beach sand, and rough paths without assistance. 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: Breakfast buffet in hotel breakfast room.
 Morning: Lively lecture on the dynamic geology of the coast followed by a field trip to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. Ride the 500' dunes in fun and safety on a specially built dune vehicle.
 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 head to Heceta Head Lighthouse and visit the historic beautiful lighthouse and lightkeeper's house.
 Dinner: Buffet dinner at the hotel.
 Evening: A slideshow will introduce you to the natural history of the Oregon coast.
Accommodations: The Driftwood Shores Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Simpson Reef, Cape Arago, Charleston and Shore Acres State Park. The Umpqua Lighthouse in Reedsport.
(Wednesday, August 20)

Note: Short and frequent walks through parks and along scenic bluffs overlooking the ocean. Also, chance to climb another lighthouse!!! the Umpqua !

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast in hotel breakfast room.
 Morning: We will travel to Coos Bay stopping to tour the Umpqua lighthouse and a chance to be up close and personal to a fresnel lens, a truly unique experience.
 Lunch: Lunch in Charleston at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology featuring their legendary Clam chowder and cheese bread.
 Afternoon: After lunch, visit the overlook of 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 and the possible gray whale. We'll also be on the lookout for Osprey, Herons and Bald Eagles. 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: Dinner at the Red Lion Hotel
 Evening: Presentation on Oregon Estuaries.
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
(Thursday, 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
(Friday, 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.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant
 Evening: Wrap up our adventure!!
Accommodations: Gold Beach Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Breakfast in the hotel breakfast room. Then board the bus and we will head back to Florence to gather up participants' vehicles. We will stop in Bandon Old Town for a brief rest stop and to stretch! Then individual departures and have a safe trip home!
(Saturday, August 23)

Note: the group will return together to Driftwood Shores to pick up vehicles. Individual Departures

 Depart From: Florence.
 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: Departing Gold Beach around 8am, driving to Florence. Arrive in Florence approximately about 11am or 11:30am. Followed by individual departures.
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
  Florence, OR Chamber of Commerce
General information and links to area attractions. For additional information, visit
  General information
Florence and central coast general information 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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