For as long as I can remember, my favorite State Park has been Shore Acres State Park, located just outside of Coos Bay. Shore Acres is name given to the oceanfront estate of Louis and Lela Simpson. The Simpsons were shipping and timber magnates in the early twentieth century. The estate had a house and a five-acre formal garden on its 745 acres. In 1921, there was a devastating fire that destroyed the mansion. Twenty years later, the estate was sold to the State and turned into a State Park. The gardens were restored after 1970 and now are decorated with lights every Holiday season. It is now a regional destination, in and out of the holiday season. The park also has spectacular ocean views.
Another favorite State Park of mine is Seven Devils State Recreation Site (pictured above). The wayside, located between Coos Bay and Bandon, gives access to several miles of wild, undeveloped, rugged beach. It is not uncommon to be the only ones on the beach. It is a great place to find all kinds of treasures from the ocean – shells, driftwood, agates, and sometimes even a seal or some fish. The Bandon Dunes Golf Resort is right above a portion of the beach, on the bluffs, so it is not uncommon to find golf balls on the beach too.
My last State Park that I want to highlight is the Coquille Myrtle Grove State Natural Site. The seven-acre State Park was acquired by Save the Myrtlewoods, Inc., in 1950. It contains one of the last large stands of old-growth Oregon myrtle trees. The State Park also includes a swimming hole and a beach on the gently flowing Coquille River. It’s the perfect stop on a warm summer’s day.
By Joshua Friedlein, Oregon State Parks Foundation Administrative Assistant