Harris Beach State Park… Another Gem on the Oregon Coast: Part 1

Harris Beach State Park is located just north of Brookings, Oregon, which, in turn, is located north of the California border. It is one of a number of beautiful state parks located along the coast.

Peggy and I just returned from visiting another of the scenic state parks along the Oregon Coast. This time we followed the Redwood Highway from Grants Pass to Crescent City, which, in itself, is worth the trip. Highlights included following the plunging Smith River as it tumbles down to the Pacific Ocean and winding through the giant trees of Jedidiah Smith Redwood Park. (Smith, BTW, was an early mountain man, explorer, pioneer and author in the western US. His name is on lots of places. Had I been in his boots, those places would be named Mekemson. Grin.)

Harris Beach State Park is a short 26 miles from Crescent City following Highway 101. It’s about three hours from our home. We lucked out and got a campsite overlooking the Pacific that is normally booked months in advance. We don’t do months in advance.

The park is named for George Scott Harris, a native of Scotland. According to the Park website, he obtained the property in 1871 after a lifetime of wandering, which included serving in the British Army in India and spending time in Africa and New Zealand.  In 1860, he made it to San Francisco where he worked in railway construction and mining, finally migrating to what would become the park, settling down, and raising sheep and cattle.

We’ve visited the park before. This photo is from one of our trips. You can see why we would want to return.

While we are always fans of reflection shots, Peggy and I found something else to amuse ourselves with this time: Tide pools. Half of our beach time was spent ferreting out sea life. I plan to feature what we found in this five part series including starfish, anemones, hermit crabs, snails, limpets, chitons and seaweed. Oh my! Plus. Naturally, there will also be sea stacks, driftwood, unique rocks, and sunsets— the types of things one expects when visiting the Oregon coast. Today, I will post a few introductory photos to the park.

Looking down on the beach. We timed our visits for low tide so we could visit the tide pools. People walking on the beach provide perspective.
Looking out to sea.
It pays to look down, as well. Interesting patterns can be found in the sand. Temporary art, soon to be washed away. This reminded me of a ferocious ocean bird. Travel back from the long, pointed beak to the fierce eye.
Looking up provided a view of a dead tree, yellow flowers and rock. The yellow flowers are bourse, another visitor from Scotland that came to Oregon and decided to stay.
A whole different world exists on top of the rocks. Seabirds find the seat stacks at Harris Beach an ideal place for raising families.
Speaking of nesting, the largest island on the Oregon Coast is just off of Harris Beach. Known as Goat Island, it is also known as Bird Island since over 100,000 birds nest here in spring, including tufted puffins.
The rocks also have unique stories to tell.
While I like drift wood because of the character it develops bouncing around in the ocean, many people find other uses for it. One person’s photo op is another person’s fort! Or possibly, a beach campfire.
If you need a change of scenery, look back toward shore. My focus here was on the shallow stream spreading out over the sand.
Here, I liked the distinctive layers starting with the sand and working upward. Note the size of the driftwood logs.
A closer perspective.
I’ll conclude todays’ post with a sunset. Next Friday I am going to focus in on star fish, also known as sea stars. They were almost wiped out in the past few years by a virus but have made a miraculous recovery.


Monday’s Blog-A-Book…It’s 4 AM and a Bear Is Standing on Top of Me: I discover that the overgrown, jungle-like graveyard next to our house is a great place to play during the day but becomes very scary at night when the ghosts come out.

Tuesday’s Blog-A-Book… “The Bush Devil Ate Sam”: While driving a laundry truck to earn money for college, I meet a young Liza Minnelli in her babydoll pajamas at casino magnate Bill Harrah’s home, and am held at gun point during a laundry takeover at Lake Tahoe. Later on, I was amused by the thought that it was good training for me as a student at Berkeley and as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

24 thoughts on “Harris Beach State Park… Another Gem on the Oregon Coast: Part 1

  1. Feel like we know this part of the world well as another great blogger used to post from Brandon all the time. I can see why you would want to photograph the area — gorgeous and such interesting shapes.

  2. Hi Curt. Your post sent me off to Google Maps in search of a road we took on a 2012 cross country trip that took us through the Jedediah Smith Redwood State starting somewhere south of Crescent City. We ended up in Medford.
    Here is the kicker, the road through the park was dirt. Do you know what it might have been?

    • There is a dirt road into Jedediah, but I don’t know of anyway it could get you to Medford, Ray. Further south, in Redwood National Park, there is a dirt road that can take you across to I-5 in California. From there you could go up and over the mountain to Medford. Farther north, there is a dirt road you can follow from Gold Beach that will eventually bring you out on I-5 north of Grants Pass. I’ve been on that one a couple of times. –Curt

  3. Looking down on that square rock – it doesn’t appear to be naturally formed, is it?
    That sand-bird is actually quite unique. That should be recreated somehow.

  4. How beautiful! Thanks for the mini-vacation, Curt.
    I’m so happy to hear the starfish are on a comeback! We’ve been missing them- we used to find piles of them on a couple of our beaches, and they were one of my favorite things about moving to a saltwater state 🙂

  5. We live in Florida and visited the NW Pacific coast for the first time in 2018. We started on Vancouver Island and worked our way all the way down the coasts of Washington and Oregon to the CA border. It was an incredible experience! I was especially attracted to the tidal pools that you mention in your post and have thousands of photos that I took on the beaches during our travels. Will be looking forward to more of your photos of the Oregon coast!

    • Thanks, Claire. I love the coast all the way from Vancouver Island to Big Sur in California. On Friday, Peggy and I are leaving for a week at Pt. Reyes national Seashore, north of San Franciso and one of my all-time favorite parks. This Friday I will be featuring some of the tide pool life form Harris Beach. –Curt

  6. What gorgeous photos, Curt. After seeing only the inside of my place for days on end, I’m eager to get out and see something — anything! Several people have mentioned how much worse this has been than isolation because of Covid. At least those confined during the pandemic weren’t freezing to death — metaphorically or otherwise! Maybe I’ll make a run down to the beach this afternoon, just because. It’s cloudy and gray, but at least it’s warmish today; we may hit 60!

    It won’t look anything like this gorgeous area, but we take what we can get!

    • I suspect that the 60s sound like heaven in comparison to what Texas has just gone through, Linda. I hope you made it to the beach! Beautiful here today. I may even get outside and do some yard work after Peggy and I go for our walk. We had to skip a couple of days because Peggy was wiped out by her Moderna booster… which I seemed to sail through. On Friday we are heading for Pt. Reyes national Seashore for my birthday. It is one of my all-time favorite places. Glad you enjoyed the photos. Harris Beach really is beautiful. –Curt

    • Like Pt. Reyes. The week before my birthday I was thinking ‘what do I want to do with the week,’ and Pt. Reyes popped into my mind. 🙂 That was all it took. And thanks on the photos. –Curt

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