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What are the best places to take photographs on the Coast?

If enter Oregon at Brookings, you may want to make Harris Beach State Park your first stop, especially if you are there during low tide. Harris Beach is one of Oregon’s seven Marine Gardens that are protected intertidal areas. There are also interesting rock formations and this is a good marine life and bird-watching area. In any case, you will want to save some time for exploring the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor, a 12-mile stretch of coast beginning just north of Brookings. There are several great stops. The easiest ones with great scenic bang for the buck include Whaleshead Beach, Natural Bridges and the Arch Rock Viewpoint. If you have time for a short hike, there may be none better than Thunder Rock Cove made a little longer by continuing to Secret Beach.

The drive north to Port Orford is scenic and you will be tempted to stop, but my favorite stops for photography include the Otter Point State Recreation Site just north of Gold Beach and the Cape Blanco Lighthouse. I would take at least a full day in the Bandon area. The beach at Bandon is one of the best for photography with dramatic rocky spires and other rock formations along the shoreline and just offshore. Seals are frequently seen below Coquille Point at Elephant Rock. The Coquille River Lighthouse is just north of town and is worth a visit. North of Bandon, you can follow the Bandon to Charleston Tour Route to Cape Arago – a must stop for photographers. You’ll find it hard to pull yourself away from the amazing views along the paved walkways and hiking trails at Shore Acres State Park. The short hike from Shore Acres to Simpson Reef is one of my favorites. Simpson Reef is one of the best places on the Oregon Coast to observe seals and sea lions. Bring your longest lens for amazing shots. You can also drive to Simpson Reef and then the end of the Cape at Cape Arago State Park for more great views. If it’s low tide, the South Cove is a remarkable tidepool area.

The Oregon Dunes is the next amazing natural area as you travel north. Much of the easily accessed areas are set aside for ATVs, so as a photographer, I prefer places like the Oregon Dunes Day Use Overlook (with dune access) and Honeyman State Park for shooting. The best dunes photography I’ve enjoyed requires hiking the John Dellenback Dunes Trail near the Eel Lake Campground,

I’d reserve another full day for the Heceta Head Lighthouse, Cape Perpetua and Yachats area. There are highway viewpoints of the Heceta Head Lighthouse just past Sea Lion Caves, but it is worth the half-mile hike up to the beautiful lighthouse from the State Park. You could spend days within the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area, but not to miss are Spouting Horn and Thor’s Well at Cooks Chasm and Devils Churn just to the north. These are best a mid-to-high tides for the most exciting ocean action, but this is great tidepool area too. On cloudy or overcast days, the rainforest trails make a nice option.

As you continue north, I like to check out Seal Rock State Recreation Site. There are scenic overlooks and the beach can be quite interesting especially at low tide. I would save a majority of my time on this leg of your journey for the natural areas near Newport. The Yaquina Bay State Recreation Site offer good views of the beautiful Yaquina Bay Bridge and Oregon’s only wooden lighthouse. Just north of town is the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, great for scenic photography including a pretty lighthouse and marine life and bird watching. If you can plan your visit for low tide, a stairway leads to another of Oregon’s Marine Gardens, a great place to photograph purple sea urchins. Just north of Newport is the Devils Punchbowl State Natural Area, another must stop. You’ll also want to check out the view from the Cape Foulweather lookout.

If you have time, follow the Three Capes Scenic Route turning off at Pacific City for views of Cape Kiwanda and Cape Lookout, though the easiest stop for lots of scenic opportunity is Cape Meares with its lighthouse. For the rest of the North Oregon Coast, I would reserve most of my time for the area near Cannon Beach. There’s an amazing viewpoint as you travel north of Manzanita and the highway climbs the edge of Neahkahnie Mountain. Potential stops as you continue include Short Sand Beach, a short walk away in Oswald West State Park and Hug Point – a must stop if its low tide where a picturesque waterfall flows onto the beach just around the point north of the parking area. Cannon Beach itself is home to Haystack Rock, great for tidepools or for framing as a foreground at sunset, along with the rocky spires known as The Needles nearby. Watch the grassy flanks of Haystack Rock for Tufted Puffins. It’s one of the best places to see the colorful birds in the Northwest. Ecola State Park would be my other don’t miss stop. The main viewpoint is fabulous and the Indian Beach area is also amazing.

Lastly, you probably won’t want to miss photographing the remains of the 1906 shipwreck Peter Iredale in Fort Steven State Park as you approach Astoria.

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on May 16th, 2015 - Post Your Answer

What is the best place to go kayaking on the Coast?

That’s a tough one. There are a wide variety of kayaking opportunities along Oregon’s 363-mile coastline and the “best” would really be determined by your skill level and the type of paddling experience you are after. There are scenic bays, rivers and estuaries, especially in Tillamook County; there are large lakes, notably in the Florence area; and there are whitewater thrills on the wild rivers of the South Oregon Coast. There is also some great ocean kayaking all along the coast for experienced kayakers and even some scenic ocean kayaking, including guided tours, suitable for less experienced paddlers.

For guided tours or recommendations from the experts, you should check into Kayak Tillamook and South Coast Tours.

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on April 22nd, 2015 - Post Your Answer

How should we spend 48 hours on the Oregon Coast?

Two days traveling the Oregon Coast means severely limit stopping and spending any time at the many attractions along the 363-mile coastline. Newport or Yachats make a good first overnight stop to explore some of the amazing scenic areas on the Central Oregon Coast. Top scenic attractions to make time for include Devils Punchbowl, Yaquina Head (Newport area) and the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area (just south of Yachats)

I would spend my second night in Bandon after a stop at the three amazing State Parks on Cape Arago southwest of Coos Bay. The beach at Bandon is decorated with dramatic rock formations and is one of the most scenic beaches of any adjacent to an Oregon Coast town. You could rejoin I-5 via OR 42 E from Bandon, but if you choose to travel further south along the coast, make time for visiting the Cape Blanco Lighthouse and the viewpoints along the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor.

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on April 10th, 2015 - Post Your Answer

Can you suggest a trip that allows us to see lots of boats?

There are several choices for good port or fishing towns on the Oregon Coast. On the North Oregon Coast, you could consider Astoria with its working riverfront ranging from fishing boats and international commercial ships to recreational boats and cruise ships. There’s a lovely river walk that allows you to take in the views of boats on the river and in port. The river walk passes a combination of working waterfront businesses and brew pubs, restaurants and coffee shops, along with the amazing Columbia River Maritime Museum that would be a must stop for you. For a luxury stay, you could book a room at the Cannery Pier Hotel that is built on the river pier of a former cannery and you could watch the river traffic from your room. Other options include Victorian bed and breakfasts, downtown boutique hotels or traditional hotels.

On the Central Oregon Coast, I would recommend Newport with its large bay front port on Yaquina Bay. It’s a fun place to walk, offering a unique combination of commercial fish processing along with tourist shops, restaurants and attractions. You’ll find some bay front accommodations and other local attractions are nearby including two historic lighthouses and the world-class Oregon Coast Aquarium. On the bay front, there is a small maritime museum. There are beautiful stretches of beach nearby too! The short day trip to Depoe Bay would allow you to visit the worlds smallest navigable harbor, as well as look for whales at the oceanfront Whale Watch Center.

There are several interesting choices on the South Oregon Coast. I love the character of the small fishing port of Charleston southwest of Coos Bay. Just minutes from the port is a string of three beautiful State Parks on Cape Arago. The Cape Arago Lighthouse can be seen from various viewpoints nearby. Accommodations near Charleston are more limited, but you will find many choices in North Bend and Coos Bay, a major shipping port. I love the town of Bandon for its amazing beach with dramatic rock formations. It has a small port on the Coquille River, but it would make a great base for exploring north to Charleston and south to Port Orford, a small fishing port, but home of the only dry dock port on the West Coast where boats are lifted directly in and out of the ocean’s waters by crane. Bandon makes relaxation time in the evening easy with an Old Town area and riverfront boardwalk where you will find some of the community’s best shopping and dining.

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on March 29th, 2015 - Post Your Answer

What is there to do around Rockaway Beach that is easily accessible for all ages and abilities?

Rockaway Beach makes a good base for exploring the coast north and south with several great accessible attractions for the elderly or those with mobility issues. A good day trip north would include taking in the amazing highway-side viewpoints on Neahkahnie Mountain north of Manzanita and a visit to Ecola State Park where amazing viewpoints are just steps away and paved walking paths lead to more stunning views. Cannon Beach and Manzanita are small beach towns that are easy to explore.

To the south of Rockaway Beach, the day trip to Cape Meares is my favorite, offering great views just off the parking area and paved paths that lead to a lighthouse. The Three Capes Scenic route can make an extended day trip including Cape Meares, Cape Lookout State Park and Cape Kiwanda at Pacific City.

One of the most popular activities in the Rockaway Beach area is crabbing which you will find just to the north on Nehalem Bay. Local marinas offer crab ring rentals and bait. You can crab from the docks or rent a boat, then have your catch cooked up dockside for the freshest crab dinner ever.

Happy exploring!

Gary

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on February 2nd, 2015 - Post Your Answer

Which state park has the best oceanside site for tent camping? Looking for great views and beach access.

I would have to go with Cape Lookout State Park on the North Oregon Coast. RV spaces are more toward the center of the park and the beachfront sites are dedicated to tents. You will find a link to the campground map on the Cape Lookout page of the Oregon State Parks website.

Happy exploring!

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on August 15th, 2014 - Post Your Answer

What are some family-friendly things to do around Lincoln City?

Obviously beach activities like beachcombing, kite flying and building sandcastles tops the list, but there are some other attractions and day trips that I would recommend. Depending on your kids’ ages, the Jennifer Sears Glass Art Studio offers an opportunity for capable youngsters to create their own piece of art glass. Chinook Winds Casino Resort has an arcade and there is a kids’ park with kayaking and bumper boats on Devils Lake. I would highly recommend a couple of short day trips as well. Depoe Bay has a Whale Watching Center that is the most dependable place to spot gray whales, even during non-migratory times. The small town shops are also fun to explore. A trip to Newport and the Oregon Coast Aquarium is a can’t miss for kids and adults of any age. It’s a great place to spend at least two hours. The Newport bayfront is also a good place for kids with family attractions, dining and shopping. You are likely to see blubbery sea lions lounging and barking from the bay front docks. A trip south to Pacific City is also a possibility. The kids can climb the giant sand dune on the flank of Cape Kiwanda.

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on March 25th, 2014 - Post Your Answer

We are traveling from Astoria to Florence on the Oregon Coast. What are some natural wonders we should stop and see along the way?

For natural wonders between Astoria and Florence, I would suggest starting at Ecola State Park near Cannon Beach. There are wonderful views of the coastline including Oregon’s iconic Haystack Rock and the offshore Tillamook Rock Lighthouse. You can visit Haystack Rock by parking in Cannon Beach and if you visit at low tide you can explore its tidepools. Between April and July, you can observe Tufted Puffins nesting on Haystack Rock. About 15 minutes south, the highway climbs Neahkahnie Mountain and there are dramatic roadside viewpoints. I would then suggest following the Three Capes Scenic Route southwest of Tillamook. Cape Meares offers great views and a short walk to a lighthouse. The next stop is Cape Lookout which offers beach access and hiking. It requires more time to explore, but could be a nice stop for a picnic. Cape Kiwanda is the last stop and it offers great views if you climb to the top of the giant sand dune on its flank.

Other great stops as you continue south include Devils Punchbowl at Otter Rock, a great viewpoint and interesting geological formation. Yaquina Head Oustanding Natural Area is another must see, with a beautiful lighthouse, views and a great intertidal area if you visit at low tide. I would save plenty of time for the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area just south of Yachats. There are roadside viewpoints of interesting rock formations including Spouting Horn, Thor’s Well, Devils Churn and Cooks Chasm. The visitors center offers views and access to easy rainforest hiking trails. Heceta Head Lighthouse also makes a good stop with a short walk the the lighthouse in a spectacular setter. Highway viewpoints just to the south offer good views looking back at the lighthouse. Sea Lion Caves is just around the corner from there and offers more great views and access to America’s largest sea cave that is shelter for wild sea lions.

Just south of Florence, you will find companies that offer dune buggy rentals and tours. Honeyman State Park is a great stop for getting out to climb the dunes and the Oregon Dunes Overlook, a little further south, offers views and dune access too.

Happy exploring!

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on January 27th, 2014 - Post Your Answer

What is the Oregon Coast like in February and March?

February and early March on the Oregon Coast are part of the quiet seasons, though Valentine’s Day and Presidents Day weekend do see an increase in visitors. This can be a great time for general sightseeing since attractions, State Parks and natural areas are less crowded. You do have to be prepared for a variety of weather conditions. Low temperatures average in the high 30s and highs average in the mid-50s. You should also be prepared for rain as February is still part of the wet season and can still see 8-10 inches of rain for the month. While the typical forecast may be overcast and showery, we often experience beautiful clear days that are sometimes unseasonable warm. I always recommend being prepared for whatever Mother Nature delivers and you can enjoy the coast during a very special season unlike what many warm weather visitors see. It’s a great season for birdwatching and wildlife. Bald eagles patrol the beaches and herds of Roosevelt Elk or commonly seen grazing in meadows. Wave action can often be dramatic unlike the summer when typically small waves roll to the shore.

There are also some major events during this time. Lincoln City celebrates Antique Week Feb 7-16, Feb 20-23 Newport hosts its annual Seafood and Wine Festival and Astoria presents the Fisher Poets Gathering. Cannon Beach hosts a Yoga Festival Feb 28-March 2 and then the Savor Cannon Beach Wine & Culinary Festival March 6-9.

Happy exploring!

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on December 27th, 2013 - Post Your Answer

Are there dog-friendly campgrounds on the Southern Oregon Coast near Florence?

Nearly all Oregon State Park campgrounds welcome dogs. Pets must be confined by the owner, or on a leash not more than six (6) feet long, and kept under physical control at all times. The closest State Park campground to Florence would be Honeyman State Park.

The following link is to Oregon State Parks brochure on pets in parks: http://www.oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=main.loadFile&load=_siteFiles/publications/pets-in-parks.pdf

The following link is to Oregon State Parks “Find a Park” page and you can check all of the State Park campgrounds south of Florence: http://oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=visit.dsp_find

There are also countless private and Forest Service campgrounds that are dog friendly, but rules can vary.

Happy exploring!

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on October 31st, 2013 - Post Your Answer
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