89814 Cape Arago Highway, Coos Bay, Oregon 97420
Where is Sunset Bay State Park
Sunset Bay State Park is located halfway up the Oregon Coast off of the infamous road trip coastal highway 101. Highway 101 runs from San Francisco, California up the coast through Oregon and Washington. This State Park is super popular in the summer months for road trips.
Sunset Bay is about 4 hours south of Portland, Oregon and about 9 hours north of San Francisco. The closest town is Charleston only 2 miles away. The larger town of Coos Bay with more services available is 12 miles north.
Connected by hiking trails are 2 other state parks to the north and south of Sunset Bay US State Park. To the south of Sunset Bay is Shore Acres State Park, and to the north is Cape Arago State Park. The Oregon Trail runs the entire coast of Oregon and goes through Sunset Bay State Park. An 8.9 mile out and back hike along the Oregon Trail connects Sunset Bay to Cape Arago State Park.
How Big is Sunset Bay State Park
Sunset Bay State Park is located on a crescent shaped bay protected from the rough waves of the Pacific Ocean with an island in the middle, hiking trails, and a campground. The elevation is at sea level with the campground about 12 feet above the shore, and an overlook hike about 65 feet above the shore.
The park is 405 acres in total including the shoreline and campground area. There are about 2 miles of trails to hike in the park, and a small creek that flows through the middle of the campground.
Sunset Bay State Park Weather
The Oregon coast has unpredictable weather that comes in off of the Pacific Ocean, bringing lots of rain and wind year-round. Because of the rainfall, the best and most popular time to visit Sunset Bay is from June through August during summer vacation months.
Summer months from May to September are the driest months bringing the least amount of rain at an average of 1 inch a month. The average high temperature during summer months is 65 degrees, and a low of 53 degrees during the evenings.
November through February rainfall averages over 10 inches of rain a month, with cloudy and windy skies almost daily. In the winter, temperatures drop to a low of 40 degrees.
Surfers or water users should plan on using a wetsuit as the ocean water in the bay ranges from 59 to 68 degrees, making it a cold swim. Harbor seals and sea birds frequent the area and can be seen year-round taking shelter in the bay.
When did Sunset Bay become a State Park
Sunset Bay was a sailor’s haven in a protected cove from storms and rough seas and is rumored to even have harbored pirates. An early Coos Bay settler gave the name Sunset Bay because of the west facing sunset views from the bay.
1948 to 1984, the land was obtained through exchanges, purchases, and land donations overtime from private owners with help from Coos County and the Bureau of Land Management, all to protect this beautiful bay for recreation for the public. Sunset Bay became an official state park in 1984.
Things to do in Sunset Bay State Park
The protected crescent shaped bay offers many ocean recreation opportunities such as surfing, paddling, swimming, and strolls on the shore enjoying the views!
Wildlife watch: Harbor Seals will come up onto this protected cove beach to rest and nap. Harbor Seal pups frequently rest on the safe shore taking a break from the rough seas. Our State Park Visitors Guide highly advises not to disturb or get close to them.
Surf or paddleboard in the bay: Rent a kayak, boogie board, surfboard, stand up paddleboard, sand boards, and more at Bahama Boards just a short drive away in Coos Bay town.
Stay in a Yurt: Available year-round, there are 8 yurts available to rent. Reserve one online! A great option for spring and winter stays.
Hike to a lookout: An easy .9-mile trail takes you out onto a point up 60 feet overlooking the bay. Hikers that venture off of the main trail frequently get stranded on the rocks below and need to be rescued. Stay on the trails at all time and don’t follow social trails.
Hike to Cape Arago: This 8.5 mile out and back trail winds through a coastal forest on the Oregon trail and connects to Cape Arago State Park to the south of Sunset Bay.
Grill and Picnic: Day-use grills and picnic tables are available with great views of the bay. Stop at the local grocery store in Coos Bay to pick up groceries to grill and picnic.
When to go to Sunset Bay State Park
The best time to visit Sunset Bay is from June to September when the weather is the sunniest and warmest. The park gets busy in the summer, especially during the weekends. Reserving a campsite or yurt is necessary to make sure to get a spot.
Mornings on the Oregon coast can be foggy from the cold ocean water warming up from the morning sun. After 12pm is the warmest time of the day to swim and enjoy the beach. Surfers can check the surf report and tides to find the best time to catch waves.
Parking is limited at the park and requires an Oregon State Park pass or a day pass you can purchase at the entrance.
Must-Have things to bring to Sunset Bay State Park
Sunset Bay State Park has limited amenities available for campers and day users, so bringing beach supplies, water, snacks, and everything else you may need is necessary. The local town of Coos Bay is a 20-minute drive away and has grocery stores and rental shops to bring gear to Sunset Bay.
Water: Water is highly necessary no matter where you are. And when hiking or camping out in a State Park it is even more important. List of Parks suggests bringing more than you think you need.
Food/Snacks: Coos Bay has a grocery store to stock up on food and snacks as this state park doesn’t have any services.
Swim gear: Bring a wetsuit and towel as the water here is cold year-round. Wetsuits are available for rent at Bahama Boards.
Paddle gear: Get out on the water with a surfboard, stand up paddle board, canoe, or kayak and enjoy the bay!
Hiking Boots: Lots of rain means muddy trails! The Oregon coast is a thick, lush jungle with roots, rocks, and brush. Bring good hiking gear to avoid getting injured.
Rain gear: Unpredictable weather blows in off the coast, so be prepared for rainstorms.
Warm layers: Nights can be chilly, even in the summer! Bring lots of warm layers.
Where to stay in Sunset Bay State Park
The Sunset Bay State Park Campground has 29 full hookup spots, 34 electrical sites, 66 tent sites, 2 group tent areas, and 8 yurt campsites available. There are day use picnic areas and grills. Reservations are recommended as this campsite gets very busy throughout the summer.
Outside of the park just down the way is Oceanside RV Resort & Campground with campsites, yurts, and cottages to stay at. Vacation Beach home at Lighthouse Beach is another option for rent on the coast nearby.
Coos Bay is a 20-minute drive away and has many hotel options to choose from ranging from cheaper motels to nice hotels.
Food Nearby Sunset Bay State Park
There is no food in the State Park itself, but close nearby towns offer grocery stores and a variety of restaurants to eat at. The state park does have BBQ grills available to use.
A 2-minute drive away in the town of Charleston there are many restaurants and food options. High Tide Café offers great seafood. Miller’s at the Cove Sports Bar & Grill, Chuck’s Seafood, Portside Restaurant, Crabby Cakes Bakery, and Ocean Air Taqueria & Eatery are just a few of many options in Charleston. Oregon is famous for its local caught seafood and beef from local farms in the surrounding farmland.
Airports near Sunset Bay State Park
Southwest Oregon Regional Airport is the closest regional airport located in North Bend, about a 30-minute drive away. Eugene Airport is a larger airport serving more flights and is a 2.5-hour drive away.
The recommended and most scenic route to Sunset Bay State Park is to fly into San Francisco and road trip up the scenic coastal highway 101. The total trip drive time is about 9 hours and can be done in a couple of days. Renting a car to drive around the Oregon coast is the best way to experience Sunset Bay State Park!