Southern Oregon Coast Elopement Locations - Brookings, OR Photographer
Other locations to consider for your elopement in the Brookings, OR area beyond Natural Bridge and Secret Beach.
Because I live here in Brookings, OR, I always keep an eye out for elopement Instagram posts in the area. You can drop any nearby, random coastal rock in front of me and I can tell you exactly where it is. But 9 times out of 10, the only locations I see are Secret Beach and Natural Bridges.
As a local, I’ll let you in on a secret: those spots are just okay. I’d recommend you stop by and visit them as a tourist but I wouldn’t recommend using them as your elopement location.
This is Natural Bridges:
And this is Secret Beach:
Here’s what you should know before you get attached to these two locations which virally circulate on Pinterest and Instagram:
They’re busy. You look at any Brookings blog post and those are the top two (and sometimes only two) recommendations they have. Because of this, “Secret Beach” isn’t secret anymore. The parking lot at Natural Bridges spends the majority of the summer packed past its capacity.
Natural Bridges is THE Instagram/Pinterest elopement spot in Brookings, but I don’t actually take people there for elopements (for good reasons, I promise). It has two main viewpoints: one is a nice platform looking directly west. It’s only a short, 100 foot walk from the parking lot. This isn’t the spot you see on Instagram and Pinterest though. To get to that viewpoint an unmarked trail takes you on a slippery, steep hike right along a cliff. It takes you to sections of the bridge where there’s only a few feet between you and a fall into the crashing waves. As recently as July 2021, someone died on this hike. To be entirely blunt, I refuse to hike it on my personal time let alone with a client in tow. It’s dangerous and I don’t recommend it to anyone visiting. The view from the platform is stunning (and much, much safer). Unfortunately, photos from that viewpoint aren’t possible.
Secret Beach is also super common to see on social media when you search for Oregon Coast elopements. It is actually a very small beach, which is part of what makes it so beautiful, but it also means it fills quickly. If there are other people on the beach, there’s not much space to get away for the private moments you want on your elopement day. It can get very busy in the summer and weekends (even in the winter).
Most importantly though, these two spots are just a peek into the amazing sights the Southern Oregon Coast have to offer. I might be a bit biased, but this section of the coast is the best I’ve seen. You can throw a dart at a Southern Coast map and it’ll probably land on the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen (so far, until you throw another dart). So let’s see some more of what this stunning coast has to offer:
I’ve spent hours and hours, and hiked miles and miles, exploring to find these locations for my clients. I've also done extensive research on how to be a good steward of the ecosystems so those that come after can also enjoy. Because of this, I am going to name the closest towns to these locations, but I’m not going to give the specifics of the location themselves. Be assured though, you can find all these locations on AllTrails. These locations don't have the infrastructure to support a large influx of tourists. These are quiet spots with the capacity for small groups of visitors. Without those structures in place, they'll experience far more damage faster with an influx of visitors. Check out this resource from the Leave No Trace Center if you want to see some background on why I have made this choice.
Other Brookings locations:
Natural Bridges and Secret Beach both lie within Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. It’s an easy to navigate park with clearly labeled signs at each pull-off/parking lot. All the locations are right off Highway 101, on the ocean side of the road. You can be in total awe of the incredible sites, regardless of where you pull off the road. I often recommend visitors just drive the corridor and pull over to explore wherever they can. Some spots have a view right from the parking lot while others have a short 0.5-1 mile round-trip hike to get to the view. It’s just epic view after epic view, with very easy access.
Gold Beach Locations
One of the best things you can do when picking a spot on the Southern Oregon Coast is to go past Brookings. There’s 3 other small towns north of Brookings boasting insane views with a fraction of the crowds. These are towns most people have never heard of and simply don’t visit while getting caught up in Samuel H. Boardman.
Gold Beach is the first town you come come across when driving north from Brookings, around 30 minutes up the 101. It’s a third of the size of Brookings but you can find stretches of beach and cliffs with the whole space to yourself. The drive from Brookings to Gold Beach is one of the best in the world, with some amazing views to behold.
Port Orford Locations
Port Orford is 30 minutes north of Gold Beach (or 1 hour from Brookings). This is an even smaller town than Gold Beach but is another great spot to get away from the crowds. There are great beaches really close to town, and beautiful sights just beyond the town limits.
Another 30 minutes north (1.5 hours from Brookings) is Bandon. Bandon doesn’t have the same level of seclusion as Gold Beach and Port Orford do. It’s only 30 minutes south of Coos Bay which is the largest town on the coast. It has a giant beach with stunning scenery though. Due to the size of the beach, it’s easy to get away from crowds even on a busy weekend. It’s also a great option if you’re struggling to find a place to stay. Coos Bay is packed with town amenities (yay Walmart!) and lodging options.
There are fewer location options in Bandon but it's packed with fun food places and other tourist activities.
Be wary of the "Pinterest Elopement" - for example, photos of a couple dancing and twirling on the edge of a cliff, with the Natural Bridges in the background. These photos fail to show the dangers of reaching those spots, and ignore the fact that there are other amazing spots just a few miles up the road. I recommend you enter the elopement planning process with an open mind. Don't fixate on a single location and lose out on your perfect spot because of it.
Most importantly, make sure to plan an elopement that fits you. If you aren't cool with a slippery hike down the edge of the cliff, don't do it! Let your elopement photographer find you a spot that's just as epic, and fits perfectly with your perfect day.
If you choose to visit this beautiful area, here’s some LNT advice:
Be mindful of plant life on dunes. Sand is a challenging environment to live in and this plant life is often delicate. Keep to already established, only sand paths.
Do you best to stay on established trails. This is especially challenging in this area. A large portion of the trails here are attached to the Oregon Coast Trail. There’s many sections where it is poorly maintained and minimally used. Some paths are just patted down grass that look like social trails even though they are actually the official Oregon Coast Trail. Just do your research, watch the signs, and do your best to stay on the trails!
Be careful when navigating beach rocks. They are often covered in sea life. The first wildlife I often notice is very small, black snails. They look like little pebbles stuck to the rock. Barnacles are living creatures and can be damaged when you walk on them even though they have that tough outer shell. Don’t pull starfish off rocks and don’t put things in the anemones. The intertidal zone is a vicious environment to survive in, where “survival of the fittest” holds brutally true. Make sure you let the critters have a fighting chance.
Avoid edges of cliffs. Many cliffs along the Southern Coast are sandstone. They are quite crumbly and sometimes carve out underneath the cliff. You want to give cliffs plenty of space to make sure you’re on solid ground. This is important for your safety and also to help slow erosion from human activity.
On the topic of sandstone, don’t sign names or initials into sandstone. This impacts the natural erosion process in addition to detracting from the experience of the hikers coming after you.
Dreaming about your Southern Coast elopement? I gotcha covered. Fill out my contact form and we can hop on the phone and discuss how we can craft your perfect elopement here.
Still need convincing? Check out these other Oregon elopement resources: