Cape Arago State Park

Cape Arago State Park offers panoramic views of the three separate coves that surround it and the broad span of ocean beyond. It has a more rugged and desolate feel than the nearby Sunset Bay and Shore Acres state parks. The beaches below the cliffs are common destinations for visitors, but it’s a steep descent to reach them. The park can still be enjoyed from the cliffs above. Cameras and binoculars will help capture the ocean and sea life antics.

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Simpson Reef overlook

25 Steps


I always stay longer than anticipated when we stop at Simpson Reef overlook. Protected from the wind more than any other easily accessible part of the cape, it is a peaceful place to take in the view. Seals of several types lounge, frolic, and bark on rocks of Shell Island. Pelicans enjoy ridge lifting the rock face. Beyond the seals, the slightly more distant reef is part of Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge and the cape’s North Cove can be glimpsed to the south. A helpful sign in the parking area shows a map of the area and describes the native wildlife.

Rock structure

100 Steps

Perched above the cape’s Middle Cove, this structure offers a rocky seat to view the wide-open ocean stretching to the horizon. My visits to this destination have always been brief. The views are spectacular, but so is the wind! Continuously exposed to the harsh elements, this area has withstood years and years of varied Oregon precipitation, from drizzle to deluge. You may need to weather some yourself in order to partake of the sights here.

Picnic viewpoint

125 Steps

After several visits, I still kept sensing I was missing something in Cape Arago State Park, like I was overlooking a hidden gem. On my visit in February 2012, I was determined to find it. As we passed this grassy picnic area, the wind was raging and it was starting to rain. Still, I requested my husband escort me to the bench near the cliff’s edge. Not at all hidden but certainly a gem, even in the harsh conditions of our visit the stop was definitely worthwhile. The benches afford prime viewing of South Cove, which lays beneath the steep cliffs.

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