Eclipse Trips: Oregon Coast
Total Solar Eclipse
August 21, 2017
The eclipse will take less than 15 minutes to cross the state, with each region in the path of totality experiencing total darkness for only a minute or two. While those few minutes will be worth the journey, this also leaves lots of time to enjoy all the beautiful places and exceptional activities of Oregon. Eclipse festivities provide a starting place to visit these unique, small communities and beyond.
LINCOLN CITY/NEWPORT, 10:15 A.M.
Those wanting to catch the eclipse at its first landfall will head to Lincoln City, Newport and points between. There’s no shortage of sandy beaches and forested vistas here, all perfect for sky gazing. And while it can’t be guaranteed, chances are high for good eclipse viewing conditions since cloud cover tends to be partial to zero in August.
This area holds some of the largest concentrations of amenities on the Oregon Coast, so while lodging and eating options will be packed, there are more to go around. Hit up restaurants, from fine dining to crab shacks, brave the seas on a whale-watching mission, visit Newport’s lauded aquarium or walk the spacious beaches and lush forests. Lincoln City has the lion’s share of coastal lodging, as well as attractions ranging from ice cream parlors to small museums. Newport, on the other hand, has dockside eateries, brewpubs and a legacy of commercial fishing.
Stay alert: Sneaker waves appear out of nowhere, so never turn your back to the ocean. Check tide tables before heading out, and never swim alone.
The Oregon Coast is a beach-laden string of state parks, protected areas and unpretentious villages perfect for leisurely exploring.
NORTH OF LINCOLN CITY
Pacific City (in the path of totality) is home to dorymen who launch their small craft from the powdery beach into the surf to fish in the open ocean. It’s one of the oldest and most unique fishing groups on the Coast, and if you spend a few hours here, you’ll probably see some. In the meantime, hike up sandy Cape Kiwanda for a view of Haystack Rock and miles of beach in both directions; observe posted warning signs, and keep far away from the deadly ledges. When the waves beckon, you can rent wetsuits and equipment at the local surf shop. Cafes and restaurants can be found throughout the small coastal community.
Cape Kiwanda is one stop on the Three Capes Scenic Loop, so hop in the car to head a few minutes farther north to Cape Lookout State Park. This park sits 800 feet above craggy cliffs and holds wonderful hiking trails through mossy evergreen forests down to hidden coves. Cape Meares, several miles onward, has Oregon’s shortest lighthouse (38 feet), a wildlife refuge and trails to fun sites, such as a many-limbed spruce called the Octopus Tree.
From here there are several coastal towns to enjoy, including tucked-away-butadorable Oceanside; Oregon’s cheese capital, Tillamook; relaxing and dog-friendly Manzanita; posh Cannon Beach; bustling Seaside; and finally, historic Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia River. Plan ahead, as August is peak season.
Inland from the Coast, the Oregon Coast Range, which encompasses the Tillamook State Forest, offers scenic hiking. The Wilson River is also known for its salmon fishing.
SOUTH OF NEWPORT
The Coast gets more jagged and windswept around the village of Yachats and south to the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area. Stop here for tide pooling in the dramatic volcanic formations, to hike forest trails and to take in astounding views of the Coast. A little farther on, Heceta Head Lighthouse sits pretty on a forested headland and shines the strongest beam of light from the Oregon Coast.
Florence is the next dollop of civilization, serving the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, a 40-mile area of sand dunes popular with OHVs. The dunes are so majestic, they provided the inspiration for Frank Herbert’s Dune series.
Farther down is Coos Bay, the largest natural harbor between San Francisco and Seattle; the Coos Bay area is home to three state parks, each connected with trails. Stop at Bandon, about 25 miles on, for window shopping, harbor strolling and learning about the surrounding cranberry-farming industry. The town of Port Orford offers upscale comforts as the coastline gets more ruggedly scenic.
Gold diggers should stop at aptly named Gold Beach, where folks still pan for gold in the Rogue River, which empties here. Visitors are more likely to strike it rich with wildlife viewings, however, thanks to the large populations of bald eagles, elk, otters and more. The Coast’s final outpost is Brookings, known as Oregon’s Banana Belt because of its warmer climate.
These maps and directions are for planning purposes only. You may find that construction projects, traffic, or other events may cause road conditions to differ from the map results. For travel options, weather and road conditions, visit tripcheck.com, call 511 (in Oregon only), 800.977.6368 or 503.588.2941.