Standing on edge of cliff looking out at the huge Arch Rock, trees, and Pacific Ocean on the Oregon Coast.

Disclaimer: Traveling Ness contains affiliate links and is a member of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. If you make a purchase using one of these links, I may receive compensation at no extra cost to you. See my privacy policy for more information.

Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor: 11 Best Places To Stop

A road trip along Oregon’s coast is one of the most dramatic sights in the entire United States. But no coastal Oregon road trip is complete without driving Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor on its southernmost region.

I have taken road trips throughout the entire US and on each coast and this is by far my favorite region for stunning rock formations, untouched beaches, forest trails, and views that are a must.

Even though you can pass through the 12-mile road rather quickly, please don’t! Take your time and get ready to be floored at the jaw-dropping beauty Oregon’s southern coast has to offer.

And whatever you do, make sure you have your camera charged as you don’t want to miss capturing the beaches, arches, huge rock formations, and stunning sunsets…

Prior to your trip, stock up on all hiking gear essentials and a filtered water bottle!

Looking down at the beautiful Natural Bridges rock formations on the Pacific Ocean along Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor in Oregon.

Where Is Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor?

Samuel H. Boardman State Park is one of the most scenic stretches along not only the Oregon Coast but the entire West Coast of the United States.

Specifically, the picturesque road hugs the breathtaking coastline for 12-miles along Highway 101 with a front row seat to the Pacific Ocean.

Located on Oregon’s southern coast, the corridor is between the cities of Gold Beach to the north and Brookings to the south and about 20 minutes from the California border.

Tips: I would not recommend coming on a day trip from Portland as the drive will take about 6 hours each way. Instead spend a night or two near Brookings or Gold Beach.

In this post, I’ll be listing the stops in order driving north to south!

Standing at a viewpoint overlooking the Pacific Ocean and gorgeous rock formations along Samuel H. Boardman State Park on Southern Oregon's coast.

Top Places To Stop Along Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor

1. Arch Rock

Arch Rock is one of the prettiest stops along the ragged coastal bluffs of Samuel H. Boardman State Park.

Each viewpoint on this list is ridiculously gorgeous, so it is hard to say which one is the best. But Arch Rock might be my favorite for the stunning view and its enormous arched rock.

Plus, there is an easy 0.2-mile loop that takes you to different vantage points through a sparse forest high up above the Pacific Ocean.

Standing along the bluffs overlooking the huge Arch Rock with trees on top along the shores of Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor along Oregon's southern coast.
Enormous sea stacks in the Pacific Ocean right off from the sheer cliffs at the Arch Rock viewpoint in Samuel H. Boardman scenic corridor.
Slightly south of Arch Rock looking out at two large rock formations, one with a natural arch in the ocean right off shore from the cliffs in Southern Oregon.

The iconic Arch Rock might look familiar as it is one of the most photographed rock formations on Oregon’s coast.

If you have packed a lunch or just want to take a moment to enjoy the scenery, there are picnic tables and restrooms.

Note: Not all stops have restrooms so take advantage of them when you see them!

Mile marker: 344.6

2. Spruce Island Viewpoint

If you want an outstanding view looking down at the towering bluffs, a beautiful beach, and several larger-than-life rocks, make a stop here.

Spruce Island Viewpoint is a quick and easy stop to get a view of Spruce Island just steps from your car.

Looking south at the tall cliffs, many large rock formations off the shore, emerald water and fog at Spruce Island Viewpoint in Southern Oregon.
Looking out at several sea stacks right off the shore at Spruce Island Viewpoint in Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor, Oregon.

If you want a different vantage point, you can walk a short 0.3-mile trail south. This trail also happens to be a trail that you can access Secret Beach to in the next stop below.

Mile Marker: 345

3. Secret Beach 

At one time, this might have been a secret spot but today it’s a well-known beach for its magnificent setting.

What might make it a little secret is it can be easy to pass by as there are no obvious signs. There are also a few ways to get to it.

Samuel H. Boardman Secret Beach is located between Spruce Island Viewpoint (north) and Thunder Rock Cove (south).

The gorgeous cove and small beach at Secret Beach with large rock formations off the shoreline at Samuel H. Boardman State Park in Oregon.

You can take the trail from either Spruce Island Viewpoint or Thunder Rock Cove but the simplest way to access Secret Beach is from Thunder Rock Cove.

Taking the trail from here is slightly longer but more straight forward and less confusing to navigate.

Tip: Try to time your visit at low tide to see the entire beach!

Mile Marker: slightly south of 345

4. Thunder Rock Cove

This is another stop that many pass by but worth it of you have time to walk the 0.7-mile loop trail.

It is a small but beautiful cove to your right that is bordered by towering cliffs and a natural arch rock formation that is captivating to see.

There is even a cave below where you may hear the waves crashing into it with a pretty loud sound. Even more so if the ocean is rough after a storm.

Mile Marker: 345.8

Sign that says Thunder Rock Cove Viewpoint and a trail leading off through dense forest.

5. Natural Bridges

Samuel H. Boardman Natural Bridges is one of the most famous stops on the scenic corridor along with Arch Rock.

So, this is one place you don’t want to skip! It is a gorgeous setting among dense Sitka spruce trees framing the cove which is home to several natural bridges.

The remarkable rock formations with arched bridges you see below are naturally carved into limestone as the force of pounding waves created them over millions of years.

Just 50 feet from the parking area, you’ll find a long wooden platform to view Natural Bridges from.

Walking out on the wooden platform overlooking Natural Bridges rock formations in Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor in Oregon.
Two huge rock formations off the Oregon coast with natural arches at Natural Bridges viewpoint in Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor.

This is the best and safest place to view a few of the natural bridge formations. Can you hike below to get a close-up view?

Yes, but I highly recommend you DO NOT! I attempted it myself and quickly turned around as it was wet and slippery with sheer 300 feet drops straight into the rocks and ocean below.

There is zero room for a misstep. One wrong step and you will fall to your death as many have unfortunately.

From the viewing platform you can capture more than enough beautiful photos and still make it back to your car in one piece!

Mile Marker: 346

6. China Beach

For another vantage point of Natural Bridges, stop at China Beach for a lovely view of the bluffs, arched bridges, and sea stacks along the coast.

If you want to make your way down to the secluded beach, follow the 0.5-mile trail ideally at low tide.

This is a less visited beach, so you may have it all to yourself!

Mile Marker: 347.5

A wooden post with a sign for the Oregon Coast Trail and person with a dog on a leash in Samuel H. Boardman State Park.

7. Indian Sands

Located between Thomas Creek Bridge and Whaleshead Beach you have the opportunity to walk a 1-mile loop.

Keep in mind that the loop takes you on a sandy trail to see beautiful sand dunes. The sand here was created by erosion of the sandstone cliffs above.

This is one of the lesser visited stops along the scenic corridor but an idyllic backdrop to see.

Mile Marker: 348.6

8. Whaleshead Beach

Whaleshead Beach is another favorite stop in Samuel H. Boardman State Park as it is a stunning mile long beach with a huge rock jutting up resembling a whale’s spout.

This is also a great place to take advantage of the bathrooms and eat lunch at one of the picnic tables.

Whaleshead Beach with a large rock formation off the coast that resembles a whales spout in Southern Orgeon's Samuel H. Boardman.

Even though the small road to the parking lot is pretty bumpy, the walk down to the beach is easy and flat to get to.

If the sun is out, this is a wonderful beach if you want to lay out, take a nap, or just watch the waves crash on the shore.

Mile Marker: 349.1

9. House Rock Viewpoint

House Rock Viewpoint is an easy stop as it is just steps from your car overlooking the stunning surroundings and view of the Pacific Ocean.

A plaque on a rock serving as a memorial to Samuel H. Boardman (the first state park superintendent) can be found here too.

He was instrumental in protecting all of the jaw-dropping cliffs, beaches, forests, and trails so that you can enjoy it today.

A large rock with a plaque memorial to Samuel H. Boardman at House Rock Viewpoint along the Oregon Coast.

Looking out you’ll be greeted to see a large rock formation and nice 180-degree vistas of the coastline.

If you are ambitious, you can hike from here to Cape Ferrelo (3.0 miles round trip), the next stop along Samuel Boardman Scenic Corridor.

Tip: This is a great stop to look for migrating whales (June thru October) so grab your travel binoculars! The day I visited it was quite foggy…

Mile Marker: 351.2

10. Cape Ferrelo

Cape Ferrelo is another great place to watch for migrating whales if you are visiting in the summer or fall.

There is an easy 1-mile loop that gives you the opportunity to really take in the entire rugged coastline in each direction.

On a clear day the views are quite mesmerizing to see the dramatic cliffs, sea stacks, and ocean.

For this reason, it is a wonderful place to watch the sun go down as the coastline takes on a golden glow. You won’t regret this photo-worthy opportunity!

Mile Marker: 351.9

11. Lone Ranch Beach

The southern most place along the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor is Lone Ranch Beach.

This is another stop that has restrooms, picnic tables, and tide pools at low tide.

Numerous sea stacks rise up along the coast at Lone Ranch Beach, making it a beautiful location to stroll along the arched shaped shoreline.

Mile Marker: 352.6

A picnic table off a trail along the beach with several large rocks at Lone Ranch Beach in Samuel H. Boardman scenic corridor.

Hotels Near Samuel H. Boardman State Park

If you are wondering if there are hotels within Samuel H. Boardman state park, there aren’t. But there are a number of hotels and cabins in nearby towns of Brookings and Gold Beach in addition to vacation rentals.

Keep in mind that both towns are quite small but part of exploring this more remote region of Oregon is part of the charm.

If you are looking for the closest proximity to the state park, Brookings is the closest at about 8-minutes away and Gold Beach 25-minutes.

Beachfront Inn (Brookings)

Whaleshead Beach Resort (Brookings)

Pacific Reef Hotel (Gold Beach) – I stayed here and enjoyed the fun light show at night!

Gold Beach Inn (Gold Beach)

Tu Tu’ Tun Lodge (Gold Beach)

If you would rather rent a vacation property book your stay here!

My bedroom looking out at the grassy lawn and ocean beyond at Pacific Reef Hotel in Gold Beach, Oregon.
The light show at night looking out from my room at the Pacific Reef Hotel in Gold Beach, Oregon.

Camping Near Samuel H. Boardman State Park

With so many forests and open land, there are no shortages of options to camp. The best campgrounds for an overnight stay are:

Best Time To Visit Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor?

The best time to visit the Oregon Coast and Samuel H. Boardman State Park in particular is during the summer and fall months.

During these months (June – November), you’ll have the most amount of sun, minimal rain, and not too many severe foggy days.

When the mist and fog come in heavy, it can drastically reduce your visibility of the coastline. That said, I have gone in the winter and spring when it was pretty foggy and enjoyed myself too.

For some reason, the beaches and coastline in Oregon can still look spectacular even with dark skies and rain. Just take extra care to have good shoes or hiking boots as the ground can get VERY wet and slippery.

If you do go in the summer, try to go during the week as weekends can get crowded. Or get an early start to minimize the crowds!

A foggy day with dark clouds standing on Lone Ranch Beach watching the waves against the rocks.

Directions To Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor

You can reach Samuel Boardman State Park along the Oregon Coast Highway (Highway 101) in the southernmost part of the state.

Having a car is necessary to drive the 12-miles of scenic corridor whether it’s your own or a rental. The drive time from the following cities is:

Portland, Oregon – 324 miles (521 km)

Eugene, Oregon – 218 miles (351 km)

Bend, Oregon – 310 miles (498 km)

Crescent City, California – 31 miles (50 km)

Eureka, California – 114 miles (183 km)

Mendocino, California – 257 miles (414 km)

San Francisco, California – 385 miles (619 km)

Find The Best Car Rental Rates Today!

Tips For Visiting Samuel H. Boardman State Park

  • Get an early start and get there first thing in the morning to beat the crowds on the weekends.
  • You can find restrooms and picnic tables at Arch Rock, Whaleshead Beach, and at Lone Ranch Beach.
  • If possible, try to time your visit to the beaches at low tide so that you can explore the coastline with ease.
  • Do your best to not leave a trace! Carry out anything that you bring with you.
  • Stay on designated trails and areas for people to access.
  • Download trail maps offline with AllTrails+ app.
  • Pack a lunch, snacks, and water as there is nowhere to get food.
  • There will likely be no cell service so have a map on hand or download an offline map.
  • Watch your footing! Some areas are very steep and close to the edge.
  • If you are continuing south to California, gas up in Oregon as gas is much cheaper!
Looking down at beautiful natural arch rock formations from a viewing platform at Natural Bridges in Samuel H. Boardman.

Items To Bring To Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor

  • Make sure to have waterproof hiking boots or comfortable shoes with a gripped sole.
  • No matter the time of the year, rain, mist, and wind can come on quickly so have a good rain coat.
  • Wear layers with tops, long sleeves, and jackets that wick away sweat or water.
  • When the sun does come out, have reef safe sunscreen on hand to protect your skin.
  • On overcast days or if you are out near sunset, carry a headlamp to light your way.
  • Have a reusable filtered water for staying hydrated on the trails.
  • Bring a reusable bag to carry out any trash or poop bags as many trails do not have them.
  • Keep food and drinks cold in the perfect cooler for a road trip!
  • Bring a beach travel towel or blanket to sit on one of the beaches.

Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor Map

A picnic table on a patch of grass looking out at the beach, rocks, and ocean on a foggy day at Lone Ranch Beach in Southern Oregon.

FAQ About Visiting Samuel H. Boardman State Park

Does It Cost To Visit Samuel Boardman Corridor?

No! There are no fees as it is completely free to drive through the scenic park and access the hiking trails.

Who Was Samuel H. Boardman?

Samuel H. Boardman is considered the “father of Oregon state parks” as he was an avid conservationist who purchased land to protect from development.

These protected lands became the state parks you see today and some of the most beautiful in the state. He also became the first state park superintendent from 1929 to 1950.

Is The Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor Dog-Friendly?

Yes. Dogs are welcome on the trails and beaches in Samuel H. Boardman State Park as long as they are on a leash. Be respectful of others and animals you may encounter keeping your dog on a leash no more than 6 feet long.

Where Do You Stop On Samuel Boardman Corridor?

There are numerous pullouts and places to stop along the scenic corridor but the top sights to see are Natural Bridges, Secret Beach, Whaleshead Beach, and Arch Rock.

How Long Is The Samuel Boardman Scenic Corridor?

The road that runs through the Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor is 12-miles long. The beautiful road hugs a rugged coastline, thick forests, and jaw-dropping rock formations.

How Much Time Should I Spend Exploring The Scenic Corridor?

You can see all the main beaches, viewpoints, and a few short hikes in a full day. But I would recommend staying the night nearby to take your time to see the full length of the park including some longer hikes.

How Do You Get To Secret Beach, Oregon?

Secret Beach is slightly south of milepost 345 on Highway 101 between Arch Rock (north) and Thunder Rock Cove (south). On the turn out there is a small gravel parking lot from where you can start the Secret Beach Trail. There is no sign, so you can easily miss it!

Does It Matter Which Direction You Drive The Samuel Boardman Scenic Corridor?

No, you can drive the Samuel H. Boardman State Park from either north or south. But if you want to make it simpler to pull over and make more frequent stops, driving from north to south will be much easier.

But Before You Go…

If you love hiking and exploring stunning landscapes, don’t miss out on seeing the giant Coastal Redwoods south of Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor and make it an epic road trip.

Find out all the best places to see giant redwoods up close in my post 7 Amazing Places To See Giant Redwoods In Northern California!

Got Travel Insurance?

Don’t leave home without travel insurance as you never know what might happen on a trip! It is always when you least expect it that something can go wrong like getting sick, in an accident or cancellation of some sort.

Get a no-obligation quote from two trusted travel insurance companies for peace of mind on your next trip! I have used both companies on numerous occasions and trust them for myself and my family.

SafetyWing Travel Insurance

World Nomads Travel Insurance

Looking For More Related Travel Content?

America The Beautiful Park Pass: Is It Worth Getting For Your Trip?

7 Best Filtered Water Bottles For Travel And Hiking

7 Amazing Places To See Giant Redwoods In Northern California

23 Top Things To Do In Mendocino County For A Weekend Getaway

The Best Northern California Coastal Road Trip

45+ Awesome Gifts For Hikers & Adventurers

21 Epic Hikes In Mammoth Lakes, California

The Best Ways To See Yosemite In The Fall

My Favorite Travel Planning Tools

Vanessa Shields

Vanessa Shields is the founder of Traveling Ness helping people with trip ideas, itineraries, travel planning, and boosting confidence for female travelers to take a solo trip. She has been a travel writer and content creator since 2019.

If you enjoyed this post, please share with friends!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *