Ever since reading A Garden of Finches by Jane Kirkpatrick, I’ve wanted to visit the Shore Acres State Park. Finally, after watching an episode of the Oregon Field Guide, Shari and I agreed that we must visit this place.
Perched on rugged sandstone cliffs high above the ocean, Shore Acres State Park is an exciting and unexpected combination of beautiful natural and constructed features. Once the grand estate of pioneer timber baron Louis Simpson, Shore Acres features lushly planted gardens with plants and flowers from all over the world. Something is in bloom almost every day of the year.
In the landscaped area you’ll discover a formal garden, a Japanese-style garden with a lily pond, and two rose gardens which include All American Rose Selections. From Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve, the gardens are ablaze with thousands of colored lights and holiday decorations put up by community volunteers and The Friends of Shore Acres in cooperation with the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.
After seeing the garden, you can stroll down a trail to a secluded ocean cove at Simpson Beach or skirt the cliff’s edge to see spectacular ocean vistas which often include towering waves crashing against the shoreline after a storm and migrating grey whales. On the site of Simpson’s vanished mansion, a fully enclosed observation building will allow you to view the ocean and protect you from the weather. The observation building has interpretive panels describing the history of the Simpson estate.
Shore Acres Park is located on the Cape Arago Highway, 13 miles southwest of Coos Bay/North Bend and U.S. Highway 101. The park is open every day from 8 a.m. to dusk. Please check posted times at park entrance for exact closing times. A daily vehicle parking fee is charged. Annual day-use permits are available for purchase. An Oregon Pacific Coast Passport or your camping receipt from Sunset Bay State Park or any other Oregon state park campground are accepted as a daily permit. Please display the receipt on the driver’s side of your dashboard. No animals permitted outside of vehicles, with the exception of service animals.
The Friends of Shore Acres operate an information and gift center at the entrance to the formal gardens where visitors can purchase items that relate to the historical and natural features of Shore Acres. The Friends also sponsor a variety of horticultural and cultural events at the garden throughout the year.
A large Monterey Pine (pinus radiata) dates back to the historic Louis J. Simpson estate. A member of the national Big Tree Register, the pine is 95 feet tall with a 208-inch trunk circumference and a 74-foot crown spread. It shares co-champion honors with a Monterey Pine in Carmel, California, which has a smaller trunk, but a wider crown. It was probably planted around 1910.