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About to celebrate it's 153rd birthday in August, 2004, Port Orford is the oldest town site on the Oregon coast. It had it's beginnings over a century and a half ago when Captain William Tichenor sought to establish a settlement on the coast to supply the miners who would certainly come in search of gold.
The Port Orford cedar market took off in the early 1920s' and over 60 freight ships visited the harbor each year. Several decades later in the 40's the Trans-Pacific Mill was shipping millions of board feet of lumber a year out of Port Orford.
There was a notion in the early 1950's that if Port Orford had a breakwater (jetty) it might become as big as San Francisco. That never happened, although the Army Corps of Engineers did build a breakwater in 1968 and changed the harbor forever. For more background information on the dock, see About the Dock.
Today, Port Orford is a remote fishing village and artist community as well as a retirement town. While the initial appearance of Port Orford lacks the sparkle and flash of bigger cities, visitors soon find that it is as comfortable as an old pair of slippers and has more characters and intrigue than a mystery novel.
Sport fishermen love the nature filled charm and pristine beauty of the Elk and Sixes Rivers. Divers love the enchanting underwater spectacle at Nellie's Cove behind the dock at the Port. Beachcombers find driftwood and agates on long, protracted walks along the ocean's edge at Paradise Point and Cape Blanco beaches. Surfer's clad in wetsuits ride the waves at Hubbards Creek and at Battle Rock beach. Without the high pressure and fast pace of a big city, Port Orford provides a buffet of nature and ocean based good times to those wanting to just relax and enjoy themselves.
The residents call Port Orford Paradise. Chances are you will too!
You will be standing at the most westerly point in the contiguous United States when you visit Cape Blanco State Park. Drive 5 miles north of Port Orford on Highway 101 and look for the Cape Blanco State Park signs. Turn left and proceed nearly 5 miles to the campgrounds entrance, or stop and enjoy the Hughes House at the 4 mile point or go past the campground sign and visit the Oldest Lighthouse on the Oregon Coast, or just do some whale watching. There is also a Horse Camp with many oceanview trails to ride, access to the beach rich with driftwood, the Hughes family Pioneer Cemetery, and other walking and hiking trails. Spend a day or a month.
Reservations for horse camp, group camp, and log cabins 1-800-452-5687. Reservations for the regular campsites are not necessary.
Looking south from Port Orford, Humbug Mtn. fills the skyline with an ever present mystic. About 6 miles south on Highway 101 Humbug Mtn. State Park offers a rare ocean/mountain experience for the day user or serious, long term camper.
The Port Orford Heads is a Day Use Only State Park and also a very important piece of history for Port Orford and the US Coast Guard.
Paradise Point Recreation site and Blacklock State Parkare also in the immediate area. These are Day Use Only and do not offer overnight camping.
Both rivers are pristine and the Elk boasts the some of the best salmon fishing in the contiguous U.S. When the rains start (October or November), fall chinook salmon and coho salmon (also known as silvers) run. After Thanksgiving sea-run cutthroat trout (also known as bluebacks) and winter steelhead lure fishers from near and far. More information on the Elk and Sixes Rivers on Camping Guide webpage.
In early June, the Elk River Fish Hatchery sponsors a free fishing weekend for children 10 years old and younger. Fish caught can be 10 inches to 9 pounds and include chinook salmon, winter steelhead, and rainbow trout. Rods, reels, bait, and tackle are provided. Phone 541-332-7025 for exact date and times.
With 130 acres of lake in the middle of Port Orford, everybody gets a chance to catch their limit. Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, and chinook salmon (also known as king or blackmouth) are plentiful year round. See web page on Garrison Lake for locations of fishing docks and boat ramps.
This small isolated lake, on the way to Powers, has been stocked with trout in the past. Wily and hard to catch, only experienced fishers need make the trip up the Elk River. Four-wheel drive vehicles recommended. See Camping Guide for more information on Laird Lake.
In a kayak, canoe, or rowboat, you can catch bottom fish including lingcod, kelp greenling, red snapper, cabezon (a rockfish), and black snapper just waiting to snap up your bait around Nellys Cove. Or if you want bigger fish to fry, charter a boat at the Dock (see Port Orford Dock for more information). There are more than fifty species of fish in the deep waters off shore.
Fish off the Port Orford Dock or the jetty for smelt, sardine, herring, bottom fish, snappers, lingcod, halibut, and perch to name a few. Plus beach fish on the Dock Beach.
Pinkfin perch and serfperch can be caught from any beach in the area.
You can find Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations handbooks at McNairs True Value Hardware, where licenses, bait, tackle and fishing supplies are also sold. The Dock Tackle Shop also sells 1-day licenses and fishing supplies. For additional fishing information, seasons, regulations, restrictions, visit the Oregon Fish and Wildlife website: www.dfw.state.or.us or phone 503-872-5263.