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The Oregon Coast


The Oregon Coast is home to over 350 miles of the most spectacular rugged coastlines, quaint seaside coves, and bustling beach towns in the Pacific Northwest. With help from their meticulous state park system, Oregon has set the standard in recycling, conservation and rehabilitation, which has helped preserved the beauty of the seaside setting. A walk along the well-maintained, thriving coast provides sightseers with a greater appreciation for the surrounding natural beauty, as well as an intimate glimpse of the Pacific Ocean as it kisses the Oregon shores. It is easy to be overcome by the raw beauty of this landscape that is highlighted by the coasts rocky headlands, distinctive sea stacks, and incredible coastal marvels. For added adventures and better vantage points, the coast is bursting with hiking trails that act as the transportation veins for trekkers that want a more profound experience with Oregon’s cherished coastline. A trip along the Oregon Coast cleanses the soul and leaves visitors understanding how the Oregonians refer to the landscape as ‘more than a place, it is a place of mind.’

*The following landmarks are along Highway 101 starting at the mouth of the Columbia River in Northern Oregon and terminating at the Oregon-California border in Southern Oregon:

Astoria – Astoria is a historic port city that is surrounded by forests and Victorian-style homes that are scattered throughout the hills overlooking the Columbia River. This charming town has a riverwalk that takes visitors through the veins of the city, along the ships in port, and underneath the 4-mile long Astoria-Megler Bridge. The Astoria Column (9AM – 7PM) is located on Coxcomb Hill and offers a 360-degree view overlooking downtown Astoria, the Columbia River, and the Pacific Ocean.

Peter Iredale Wreck – The remains of a four-masted shipping vessel that ran ashore on its way to the Columbia River. The shipwreck lies on the beach at Fort Stevens State Park in Astoria.

Ecola State Park - Ecola State Park is north of Cannon Beach Park and provides a great view of the Oregon Coast and Haystack Rock looking south. The park stretches over 9-miles of coastline and boasts scenic views of the surrounding beaches, coves, forest-covered cliffs. The overlook from Ecola State Park is a great location to photograph Cannon Beach and Haystack rock during sunrise.

Cannon Beach Park – The most prominent features of Cannon Beach are Haystack Rock and the Needles, which are large igneous rock formations. Haystack Rock is over 230-feet tall and is one of the most well-known features of the Oregon Coast. There are countless ways to shoot Haystack Rock, so be sure to give enough time to walk along Cannon Beach to find the perspective that is most visually appealing to you. A favorite of mine facing north is shooting Haystack Rock and its reflection on the wet sand during low tide. Facing south, I find that the sand dunes during golden hour are brilliantly highlighted as the foreground element with Haystack Rock off in the distance.

Yaquina Head Lighthouse – The Yaquina Head is the tallest lighthouse in Oregon at 93-feet and was built out of brick in the classic conical shape that most lighthouses are modeled after. The lighthouse is located at the mouth of the Yaquina River as is meets the Pacific Ocean. This governing sentry stands watch over the rocky coastline for anyone navigating the surrounding waters. The lighthouse’s beam in fully automated and runs in a unique pattern of 2-seconds on, 2-second off, 2-seconds on, 14-seconds off, 24-hours a day.

Cape Perpetua Scenic Area – Located near Yachats, Oregon, the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area is home to Thor’s Well, Spouting Horn, and the Devil’s Churn. These are natural occurrences that are driven by the power of the ocean’s tide. All are best seen an hour before or an hour after high tide when they are at their most impressive.

Newport – A popular Oregon coastal town with a green arch bridge called the Yaquina Bay Bridge and a lighthouse called the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. It is a small fishing town that harbors many of the residents fishing vessels in the Yaquina Bay Harbor.

Heceta Head Lighthouse – The Heceta Head Lighthouse rests on a 150-foot bluff with breathtaking views of the Oregon Coast and Pacific Ocean. The lighthouse is 56-feet tall and was constructed using brick and stucco. The main tower is conical in shape and both buildings are painted red and white, which makes it stand out amongst the lush hillside vegetation. Heceta Head boasts being Oregon’s most powerful light with a beam that can be seen for over 20 nautical miles.

Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area – Between Florence and North Bend, the dunes dominate the landscape for 40 miles. The best place to view the dunes is through day-use areas at Jessie M Honeyman Memorial State Park and the Oregon Dunes Overlook. These wind-sculpted dunes tower up to 500-feet above sea level and are the largest expanse of coastal sand dunes in North America.

Cape Arago State Park – Just outside of Coos Bay, the Cape Arago Overlook is a picturesque scenic headland that juts into the Pacific Ocean with a view of the Oregon Coast.

Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor – This is a 12-mile stretch of coast that boasts some of the most stunning scenic viewpoints, access to beach and tide pool areas, and hiking trails. Some of the top stops on this scenic corridor (south to north) are the Lone Ranch State Park, Cape Ferrelo Viewpoint, House Rock Viewpoint, Whaleshead Beach State Park, Natural Bridges Cove Viewpoint, and Arch Rock Viewpoint.

Attractions that are worth the visit, but are located further east in Oregon:

Crater Lake National Park – Crater Lake is part of the Cascade Mountain Range in southern Oregon. Crater Lake’s name is derived from the lake collapsed volcano of Mount Mazama and the lake that formed within its crater. The most prominent feature of Crater Lake is the cinder cone island, called Wizard Island, which is surrounded by the deep cobalt blue waters. The Rim Drive is a road that takes tourists around the crater and provides different perspectives of the lake. For hikers, the Watchman Peak Trail is a moderately steep 1.8-mile hike that culminates at a fire lookout tower. The view from the top boasts one of the most spectacular views of Crater Lake.

Notable Oregon Coast Hikes (South to North):

Natural Bridges Cove – .5-miles round-trip – An easy hike that features beautiful wildflowers and some of the most enchanting scenery on the Oregon Coast.

Blacklock Point Trail – 4.3-miles round-trip – A moderate hike that leads hikers to the coast with stunning views of the towering Oregon coastal cliffs.

John Dellenback Dunes Trail – 5.5-miles round-trip – A moderate hike that leads through endless sand dunes and ultimately terminates at the sea. The Umpqua Dunes have been referred to as the “Sahara of the West.”

Cape Meares State Park Loop – 3.1-miles round-trip – An easy, but moderately trafficked loop trail, that offers chances to see the local wildlife while enjoying the beautiful coast. A serene and enjoyable experience for hikers of all ages.

Hug Point Trail – 1.2-miles round-trip – An easy trail that is good for all skill levels. The trail leads to Arch Cape where you can explore the nearby tide pools, caves, and marvel at the waterfall that spills out onto the sand in front of you.

Ecola State Park to Indian Beach Trail – 3-miles round-trip – A moderate hike along the coast with commanding views of the ocean and coastline.

Oregon Coast Restaurants Recommendations:

*The Vista Pub (BROOKINGS) – A small pub-style eatery with indulgent appetizers. Try their basket of Crispy Kurds with Sweet Chili Sauce and their Beer-Battered Onion Rings.

*Brewers on the Bay (NEWPORT) – A popular destination for locals and tourists, this brewery restaurant has concocted a multitude of unique menu items. I left satiated and satisfied after ordering their Black Bean & Quinoa Salad, Rouge Idaho Fries, Black Bean Dip, and homemade Draft Root Beer

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