• Brookings and its vicinity provide plenty of adventures and activities
• Japanese military firebombed Wheeler Ridge near Brookings during World War 2
The town of Brookings sits on the Southern Oregon Coast plain just six miles from the California border. The Chetco River flows out of the Klamath Mountains and runs right through the town before entering the ocean.
Brookings has a very pleasant climate all year round with average temperatures in January and February ranging from 60° F to 70° F. Such a mild climate contributes to over 50 species of flowering plants thriving here. In the spring the area to the south of Brookings is full of blooming Easter lilies. In fact, the town is rightfully considered the Easter lily capital of the world with about 90% of those beautiful flowers growing here.
Brookings with its harbor and the surrounding area has a lot to offer visitors. Fantastic beaches to explore, two scenic state parks practically in the city, numerous hiking trails, comfortable weather year-round, scenic views, salmon and trout fishing, water sports, golf, and more.
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Places to See
This park is a fantastic spot for a picnic surrounded by beautiful flowers. The main feature of the park is a centuries-old 20-foot-high Azaleas. You can see crab apples and wild cherry blooming if you show up at the right time. Flowers and trees seem to attract butterflies, birds, and bees adding to the serenity of this place. The park has picnic tables, a playground, and even a bandshell for summertime concerts.
640 Old County Rd, Brookings, OR 97415
Harris Beach State Park
Harris Beach State Park is located on the northern edge of Brookings. The park has a campground with a sandy beach scattered with boulders west of it. Tides often bring ocean life, driftwood, and a variety of other things which originated in the ocean or ended up there as a result of human activity. Rockhounding and beach combing here are very productive, especially after the storms and in low tides. Tidepool watching is great with sea stars, umbrella crabs, sponges, corals, and other sea life creating a palette of beautiful colors.
Bird Island, also called Goat Island, is the largest island off the Oregon coast as well as the largest seabird rookery in the state. It is designated as an Oregon Island National Wildlife Refuge and you can spend hours birdwatching and enjoying the wildlife activity. A variety of aquatic birds such as pelicans, cormorants, and tufted puffins can be seen here.
Mill Beach is the southern part of Harris Beach State Park. This is a fantastic location for beach combing and rockhounding. The area is full of driftwood and sometimes you can even encounter Japanese fishing floats after a storm.
Chetco Valley Historical Society Museum
The museum building was constructed in 1857 as a stagecoach way station as well as a trading post. This building is considered the oldest dwelling in the Chetco Valley. The museum has a variety of displays from 1850s items to World War 2 artifacts. You can also see the life of the past in the museum such as the sewing room as well as the kitchen and dining display. On the hill near the museum, you can see the largest Monterey cypress tree in Oregon. It stands 130 feet high and has a trunk of over 18 feet in diameter.
15461 Museum Rd, Brookings, OR 97415
Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor
Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor is a 50 miles stretch of U.S. Highway 101 from Brookings to Port Orford. This part of the highway is also known as the “fabulous 50 miles” for its picturesque ocean and shoreline views as well as 11 marked viewpoints along the route. This scenic route is considered one of the most picturesque coastal drives in the entire state. You will see a dramatic coastline with rock formations, a sea of greenery, sandy shores, and the endless Pacific Ocean.
Things to do
Brookings and its vicinity have plenty of trails for hikers to enjoy. Bombsite Trail is a 2-mile hike about 19 miles out of town. This trail commemorates the Japanese incendiary bombing of the slopes of Mount Emily during World War 2.
Oregon Redwoods Trail allows hikers to enjoy old-growth redwoods. The trail is 1.7 miles and the first half-a-mile is wheelchair accessible. You can also hike through the redwood trees via the trail in Loeb Park.
Vulcan Lake Trail is a one-mile trail to Vulcan Lake about 31 miles away from Brookings. This trail allows you to see and enjoy the Kalmiopsis Wilderness without extended hikes.
Brookings and its vicinity is a great place to fish for a variety of species including salmon, trout, and ocean bottom fish. Since the town sits at the mouth of the Chetco River, you can catch both river and ocean fish all in one place.
Summer is salmon, tuna, and ocean bottom fish season for saltwater fishing. You can also catch cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, and Chinook salmon during your freshwater outing. You can catch rockfish like snapper, sea bass, and black bass, rock cod year-round.
Lingcod can be caught in March, April, and May when it comes into shallow waters to spawn. Albacore tuna season is summer when that fish arrives closer to the Oregon Coast. The Pacific halibut season starts in May. Fall and winter are the best seasons for rainbow trout, bass, and winter steelhead runs.
You can organize your fishing trip yourself or arrange a guided trip through one of the multiple available outfits. If you don't have a boat, you can easily angle at the harbor fishing pier or on the south jetty at Chetco River.
The river carries minerals from the Upper Chetco River area that have multiple gold-quartz veins and serpentinite rocks. The lower section of the river has numerous gravel bars with easy access and excellent materials. White quartz and jasper are plentiful here. Rarely, carnelian agate, petrified wood, and serpentine can be found.
Beaches in the town's vicinity are productive for a variety of minerals as well. You can find agates, jaspers, petrified wood, quartz, and other rocks.
Chetco River has a plethora of swimming spots to enjoy for the entire family. The lower section of the river is wide and slow so it is relatively safe for swimming in the summer months. This gorgeous coastal river features sand and gravel bars and clear turquoise water with temperatures up to 80° F at the peak of summer heat.
Surfing, kite surfing, kayaking, paddleboarding, and boogie boarding are common off of the coast of southern Oregon. Sporthaven Beach features very mild waves and is perfect for beginner surfers during summer.
Winter waves at the beach are much more impressive and might be more suited for experienced surfers. Brookings Harbor is home to an annual Southern Oregon Kite Festival attracting practitioners from all over the country.
Salmon Run Golf Course is an 18-hole course near the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. The feature of this course is the fact that you can see salmon and trout spawning as well as black bears, elk, and a variety of other animals during your golf game. Don't worry, you will be safe!
99040 S Bank Chetco River Rd, Brookings, OR
The mild climate contributes to a plethora of beautiful flowers blooming throughout the entire year. Brookings is an Easter lily capital of the world with 90% of those plants growing here, blooming in spring.
Rhododendrons, magnolia shrubs, and early azaleas bloom in the late winter, camellias bloom right at Christmas and daffodils bloom in late January and February.
Festivals and Events
Azalea Festival is a flower celebration with a parade, carnival rides, vendors, street food, and more.
Southern Oregon Kite Festival is a two-day event held in mid-July. Teams and individual kite surfers show their skills at the Brookings harbor.
Nature's Coastal Holiday Light Show is held at Azalea in December and features a show of 75,000 lights, music, sculptures, and food.
Brookings first started as a logging settlement. It was founded in 1908 by Brookings Timber Company engineer William James Ward. He identified the Brookings area as a very productive place to harvest timber and began lumbering operations. The town was named after the company's president John E. Brookings.
The Japanese Attack on US Soil during World War 2
The most unique part of Brookings's history is the first time the U.S. mainland ever got bombed.
On September 9, 1942, the Japanese I-25 submarine surfaced off the coast of Brookings. The crew assembled and launched a small 2-sit sea plane manned by the pilot Nobuo Fujita and observer Shoji Okuda. The goal of this air raid was to drop two 170-pound incendiary bombs on Wheeler Ridge, set a forest on fire, and cause panic among the population.
Fortunately, because of the wet weather at the time, the bombs didn’t do much damage but it was a rare occasion for an attack on US soil. The interesting fact is the Japanese pilot who did the bombing was invited to Brookings in 1962 and gifted the town the 400-year-old samurai sword he wore during the attack as a sign of peace.
Tsunami in 2011
On March 11, 2011, the Port of Brookings Harbor was heavily damaged by tsunami-related tidal surges. The largest surge was as high as 8 feet (2.4 m) and resulted in up to $30 million in damages including damaged and sunk vessels, broken pilings, and torn-away docks. Tidal surges were caused by a 9.0 Mw Tohoku earthquake in Japan.