I highly recommend taking a solo road trip if you want to experience the unbridled, windows-down, blasting-your-favorite-songs type of joy. And if you can drive down the coast on Highway 101 while doing it, even better. It was freeing, terrifying, and exhilarating all at the same time. This trip took me to some of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.
I have always been pretty terrified of traveling alone. Maybe because I’m a young woman who feels vulnerable and incapable. It’s been one of my goals to go and face my fear head-on. So, nervously, I planned to drive from Portland down to the southern part of the Oregon coast. Since my anxiety tends to get the best of me, I had to plan every single detail. I made myself a timed itinerary and planned which motel I would stay at and what time I would arrive so I’d get there before dark. Of course, nothing went exactly as I’d written it out, but it eased my anxiety before I left.
To begin, I made my way south on I-5 from the Portland area, then east along the Umpqua River after passing through Eugene. My first stop was Bandon, Oregon, around 11 AM. I pulled up to Kronenberg County Park, and I sat face to face a vast display of uniquely shaped rock formations and a stunning ocean view. I had been to the coast before, but each place is an individual, unique display of beauty.
I got out to walk along the beach and enjoy the incredibly windy but still magnificent beach. Then, back in the car to continue south.
I drove in short spurts, stopping at every place I could.
The next place I stopped was Sisters Rock State Park around 2 PM. I know the phrase “hidden gem” gets thrown around a lot, but I’ve never heard of this place, and my goodness, it was stunning—a hidden gem. From the parking lot, you head down a trail amidst sprawling green and hints of colorful flowers.
The trail opens into views surrounding you on either side. In front of you, two massive rock formations appear, and I assumed they were the sisters. I could have taken in the views for hours at that exact spot. However, I’m glad I kept exploring.
You can take several paths from the main trail–I ventured off toward the west part of the park and what I found was impressive. I heard what I believed to be a cave or opening formed by waves, so I had to check it out. A short climb will bring you to exactly that, and it’s a beautiful, powerful show to watch.
After taking in all the views I could, I made my way back to the car to drive again. I think making these stops along the way made the long drive bearable. Next stop: Brookings, OR.
I wanted to check in to my tiny motel room to drop things off before venturing out to watch the sunset. Little did I know, I would see one of the most memorable sunsets of my entire life. I take photos of sunsets and sunrises, mainly because I forget even the most memorable ones. Though a cliche thing to say, the pictures don’t do it justice at all. I took these at Natural Bridges outside of Brookings.
After this, I ventured back to the motel, awaiting morning. I woke up early to make a quick stop at Harris Beach State Park. The early morning light greeted an active sea otter and me. I moved north on Highway 101 to stop by Secret Beach. I explored for an hour and a half–I wouldn’t have left if I didn’t have a full-time job to report to the next day. The way the morning light was shining between the rock formations and the bright color of the ocean, it all seemed too good to be true. I took my final photos and made the trek back to my car.
After this, I stopped a couple more times along the coast before bidding farewell to my first trip alone and traveling non-stop back to everyday life. I would make this trip again in a heartbeat.