Let’s just get to the point. Cobble Beach in Newport is a place you need to go. Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, Cobble Beach’s home, is one of the treasures of Oregon. There you can visit tide pools, climb a winding spiral staircase to the tippy-top of Yaquina Head Lighthouse, explore a wonderful interpretive center, gaze in awe at the 300,000 common murres who live on the mammoth rocks off the end of the Head, feel the powerful wind in your face or climb the hill and look for whales. Do some of this or all of this, stay an hour or stay all day, but don’t leave before you descend the staircase on the south side of the Head that leads to Cobble Beach.

The Head is the result of Columbia River basalt lava flows of 14 million years ago—basalt much sturdier than the sandstone and other rock that have eroded away around it to form the Newport seashore. Basalt is also the root element of Cobble Beach. Over millennia, chunks of basalt have fallen from the hillside, tossed and bashed in the surf, and morphed into hundreds of gorgeous black round rocks known as cobbles. These comprise the small beach nestled out of the north wind on Yaquina Head.

As soon as you hear the satisfying crunch of your feet working their way through thousands of lovely spherical stones, as soon as you see the way the black stones illuminate the ocean water in an entirely unique way, you’ll know you are someplace special. But the real thrill is to come. Waves arrive on the beach as they do on any beach anywhere—large or small, high or low—but as the waves recede through the basalt cobbles, the most wonderful and unusual sound results—a watery tinkling, a musical waterfall. You’ve never heard anything like it. If you are like me, you’ll laugh aloud at how nature never runs out of surprises.

Newport is located 55 miles west of Corvallis on the central Oregon coast. Take Hwy. 20 to U.S. Hwy. 101 to Newport. Turn right onto Hwy. 101 and proceed north 4½ miles to Lighthouse Drive and turn left to the entry of Yaquina Head. Entry fee of $9. Open year-round.

about author Kim Cooper Findling

Kim Cooper Findling grew up on the Oregon Coast and became a Central Oregon girl in the mid-90s, taking in the sunny skies and never looking back (except a few wistful glances at the ocean). She is the editor of “Cascade Journal” and the author of “Bend, Oregon Daycations: Day Trips for Curious Travelers,” "Day Trips From Portland: Getaway Ideas for the Local Traveler” and “Chance of Sun: An Oregon Memoir.” Catch her around the state sampling microbrews, hiking river trails, walking beaches, and hanging out with her family.

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