COVID-19 UPDATE: Park is open to limited day use. Group camp closed. Restroom closed; use restroom in Sunset Bay Day-use Area. No fires.
Be prepared to turn around if crowded. Bring your own water, food and hand sanitizer. Do not travel far to visit. Facilities may close without notice.
Cape Arago may be the end of the road (the road out of Coos Bay goes no further), but it's really only the beginning of your south coast exploration.
Located at the end of Cape Arago Highway about 15 miles southwest of Coos Bay, Cape Arago is a scenic headland jutting into the Pacific Ocean. Long used by native Americans, Cape Arago was first sighted by Europeans during one of Sir Francis Drake's expeditions in the late 1500s. Modern visitors can scan the horizon for migrating whales and other marine mammals, as well as fishing boats and ships entering and leaving nearby Coos Bay.
The south cove trail leads down to a sandy beach and superior tidepools where you can visit intertidal plants and animals (but please enjoy them with your eyes only). The north cove trail provides access for fishing, beachcombing, and viewing the off-shore colonies of seals and sea lions at Shell Island -- a designated National Wildlife Refuge. The trail is closed March 1- June 30 to protect seal pups. Picnic tables, restrooms and a gazebo shelter are available for daytime use.
Commercial and recreational use of radio controlled aircraft, unmanned aircraft - "drones", quad-copters' and similar are prohibited at Cape Arago, Shore Acres, Sunset Bay, and Norton Gulch.
This is a safety effort to control hazards that could negatively affect other visitors or protected wildlife.
The park was given to the state in 1932 by L. J. and Lela Simpson, Coos County and the Cape Arago Park Commission. The original developments were carried out by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, few of which remain. Originally named Cape Gregory by the English navigator James Cook and honoring the saint on the day of sighting, March 12, 1778. Since the US Coast Survey of 1850, it has been called Cape Arago for Dominique F. J. Arago, French physicist and geographer. In the 1970s, a theory was posed that English privateer and explorer Sir Francis Drake anchored in the south cove of Cape Arago in June 1579. Followers of this theory believe Drake mistook the dune area between the Coos and Siuslaw Rivers for low, snow-covered hills and sailed down the coast to California, having abandoned hope of discovering a northwest passage back to England. A monument to Drake was placed in the park in 1977.