|Aerial view of Shore Acres State Park. (Oregon State Parks)|
Shore Acres State Park is a jewel in the crown of the Oregon State Park system. Each year more than a quarter-million visitors drive 13 miles southwest of Coos Bay to visit the former palatial estate of timber baron Louis J. Simpson.
The 745-acre park features five acres of formal gardens (pictured above) including a rose-testing plot, and Japanese Lily Pond (pictured below … click on images to enlarge).
|RVer Jimmy Smith at Lily Pond, Shore Acres Garden. (Julianne G. Crane)|
“During autumn, winter and spring, visitors gather on the tall sandstone cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean for storm watching and observation of the gray whale migration,” say park officials. Shore Acres is also an amazing place for kids because it includes a small beach on a secluded cove where they can watch elephant seals haul out to molt.
|RVers Sharon & Ron Vail. (Julianne G. Crane)|
Louis J. Simpson, a Coos County timber tycoon was the son of shipping magnate Asa Meade Simpson. According to park reports, after “fire and financial losses devastated his estate holdings, Simpson sold the land to the State of Oregon for use as a park in 1942. The gardens Simpson developed, as well as one building, the gardener’s cottage, remain as important features in the park.”
Annual Holiday Lights
If you are traveling anywhere along the Oregon Coast between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, plan to spend an evening wandering through the gaily lit grounds. (Check out a post on RV Wheel Life about camping at nearby Sunset Bay State Park.)
|Sharon Vail shops at the Visitor Center. (Julianne G. Crane)|
Back in 1987 the Friends of Shore Acres decided to “string a few lights” to help celebrate the holidays. That first season, 6,000 miniature lights, one large Christmas tree, and the decorated Garden House drew 9,000 visitors, states the web site. This year there is expected to be at least 325,000 lights, 30 Christmas trees, dozens of lighted sculptures, and a performance pavilion. The festive open house will attract between 40,000 to 50,000 visitors.
|Showy perennials (Julianne G. Crane)|
If you go:
Address: Shore Acres State Park, 89039 Cape Arago Hwy., Coos Bay, Oregon.
13 miles southwest of Coos Bay/North Bend and U.S. Highway 101.
Phone: (541) 888-3732
Park hours: Daily from 8 a.m. to dusk. (Check posted times at park entrance for exact closing times.)
Cost: Day use fee per vehicle: $5.
Ample parking for recreation vehicles, however, if you have a large rig, suggest using your tow car because much of the Cape Arago Highway from Coos Bay to the park is a narrow two-lane road.
|(Julianne G. Crane)|
June 3 — State Park Day – Free Parking
June 18, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. — Rose Sunday – Father’s Day
August 19 — Bonsai Day
Sept. 23 — Dahlia Day
Thanksgiving-New Year’s Day, 4-9:30 p.m. — Annual Holiday Lights
Photos: (Top) Shore Acres State Park. (Oregon State Parks). Other photos: (Julianne G. Crane)