Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint… The Oregon Coast Series

The face of the Indian maiden is clearly seen here in the rock. If you start on the right you can see her chin, mouth, nose and eye. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)


Peggy and I have driven through the town of Bandon several times without stopping on our journeys up and down the Oregon Coast. We decided to correct that oversight this past week. I had googled the small town along Highway 101. Photos of striking rock sculptures at the Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint were included on the site. That alone would have demanded a visit. But there was also the town of Bandon, Bullard Beach State Park, and the Coquille River Lighthouse to explore. Today, I will feature the scenic viewpoint. Next Monday I’ll focus on the town, park and lighthouse.

There’s a native American legend that goes along with Face Rock. It has to do with an evil spirit, a lovely maiden, and her favorite pets. The Indian maiden, Ewauna, had come with her father, Chief Siskiyou, to visit with several chiefs along the coast. In honor of the occasion, a great potlatch was thrown. After everyone had eaten far more bear and salmon than he or she should have and stumbled off to bed, Ewauna decided to go for a swim in the ocean, even though she had been warned not to. The evil spirit Seatka lived in the ocean and had a thing for fair maidens. Naturally, he captured Ewauna along with her dog, cat, and kittens. You can still see them today down among the rocks.

Face Rock near Bandon, Oregon.

Another view of the maiden, Ewauna. This one taken at sea level. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

The maiden with her cat and kittens off to the right. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

We were lucky to visit the scenic viewpoint at low tide, so we followed a wooden stairway down to the beach, wandered around among the rock sculptures, explored some caves, and admired the general beauty of the area.

Stairs led us down to the beach. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

I caught a photo of Peggy making her way down the stairs. Marvelous rock sculptures were waiting for us.

A small stream crossed the path at the bottom of the stairways.

Peggy caught it coming out on the other side of the colorful rocks. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

And I captured a broader perspective.

I promptly name this rock Elf.

Peggy took this for perspective.

Another towering giant caught our attention. I named it Bigfoot.

Peggy and Bigfoot’s toes.

This photo provides a Peggy perspective on Bigfoot’s big foot.

A distant view of Bigfoot looking small— and other rocks— from the scenic viewpoint.

These cliffs rose up dramatically behind the beach.

A pair of eye-like caves had been cut into the cliffs by the pounding waves. I was pretty sure that there would be pirate booty in them. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

One of the caves was filled with rocks. I was tempted to dig.

A view out from inside the cave. We hadn’t been alone in checking out the cave. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

The same rock looking down from the viewpoint.

Looking up at the rock from below.

The other cave provided a view through the rock cliff. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Another view. The yellow plant seen on the other side is gorse. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

George Bennet, the founder of Bandon, brought the thorny gorse with him when he came from the town of Bandon, Ireland in 1873. He saw it as a touch of home. Local Oregonians view it as an invasive plant that crowds out native plants.

It does have a certain beauty, but don’t try to hike through its thorns. The cave comes through the cliff on the right.

Another view.

There were many more rocks to keep us entertained. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

The cat and kittens looked a little more riled up here as the tide began to roll in. (And no, the cat and kittens aren’t obvious to me, either.)

Peggy caught the tide slipping in between thesis giants. Can you spot the misplaced Canadian Goose on top of the rock on the left? It flew off honking. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

I photographed the tide edging around this rock. The bottom of the rock, BTW, is packed with sea life.

Peggy’s close up shows goose neck barnacles, regular barnacles and mussels. Every inch is filled!

Our exploration complete, it was time to head back up the stairs.



Wednesday: The interview with Bone!

Friday: The beautiful temples of Burning Man.

Monday: It’s back to Bandon, Oregon.



48 thoughts on “Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint… The Oregon Coast Series

    • It’s a genuine Native American legend, Dave. Most prominent landmarks are incorporated into the mythologies of early people. I am sure you have the same thing in Australia. –Curt

    • Some of the world’s greatest art is out in nature, Dave— just waiting to be captured. There were a few people, but not many. We tend to make our coastal visits in off-season. –Curt

      • Best time to go … and you can always leave them out of the shot. I sometimes wonder if photos misrepresent the world because we only point the camera at the picturesque bits, not the landfill site slightly to the left … 😉

  1. You had me captivated here. The colors and shapes of those rocks, as well as their general environment, are just stunning. I almost couldn’t believe the Peggy/big foot perspective shot and then the distance shot just following! I saw all sorts of things hiding in there (a cherub, a howling dog) beyond the real ones photographed, which were pretty enthralling in themselves (like those barnacles and mussels!). What a great walk you had that day!

    • I love the Pacific Coast from Big Sur all of the way up to Alaska, Lexi. There is always something beautiful and interesting to explore. (There is a reason why the region often shows up in my posts.) And I enjoyed the perspective with Peggy. It always helps to add a human perspective, especially when you are dealing with size. And Peggy is a willing model. 🙂 –Curt

    • I always enjoy the legends surrounding a particular geographical feature when I can find them, Suan. You are right; they do spice up a visit to what is already a great place! –Curt


  3. What really appeals to me here, Curt, is the simple geology: the composition and the beautiful colors of the rocks. Living on the Gulf Coast is lovely, but we’re a little short on drama. Finding a sand dollar, or watching tarpon roll in the surf is nice, but it’s not as dependable as your rocks. And I really like the way so much of the coast has been made accessible: the steps, and so on. Of course, low tide helps.

    • It’s the reason why I am more of a fan of the rugged western shorelines, Linda. I’ve walked along, and really enjoyed, Padre Island and the Gulf coasts of Mexico, Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Florida, bur they have never given me the sense of wildness and drama that the Pacific Northwest provides. Peggy and I have had this discussion many times since she once owned property on the gulf in Florida. It wasn’t bad, no way, just different. –Curt

  4. All gorgeous. You two do seem to squeeze every last drop of delight out of your beach walks. I have a question: sometimes you show two perspectives of the same thing and say one is Pegge’s and one is yours. Do you both carry cameras, then compare at the end of your journey?

  5. I biked the Oregon coast in 2008 and stayed on 101, bypassing Bandon. Last September, when I pedaled again, I made a point to bike through town, and past these sights instead. I am so glad I did! After your shots, though, I want to go back and spend a few days so I can walk on the beach at low tide!

    It was gorgeous! Thanks for sharing!

  6. The rocks are astounding — not just for their size but also for their formations. And I’m kind of amazed that people are allowed to stand on the beach beside them. I guess I thought that would either be roped off or someone would be charging admission by now! Love the Indian maiden — wow!

  7. Sorry, Curt. Your Bigfoot rock is part of the Indian maiden story. He (Komax) is sitting there howling for his princess. Living so near the coast I can’t believe this was your first stop at Bandon. You forgot to mention that the gorse helped to burn Bandon pretty much to the ground back in 1936. The oils in the plant are highly volatile and when they tried to put the fire out with water, it just spread the flames.

    • Now you mention it, I do remember the Indian Maid story, Gunta. 🙂 Also remember the story about the Gorse. Pretty but deadly. I don’t know why I never stopped in Bandon. The town, the lighthouse and the rocks were all worth the stop. And we will go back. –Curt

  8. Pingback: Bandon, a look back | Movin' on

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