North Oregon Coast Electric Byway

April 4, 2013 (Updated March 7, 2017)
Iconic Haystack Rock rises 235 feet from the surf in Cannon Beach. (Photo credit: Larry Geddis)

This journey leads out of the bustling center of Portland down the Columbia River, through the Coast Range and out to the beautiful beaches and friendly towns of Oregon’s North Coast. Travel west along the Columbia into the maritime town of Astoria, south to Lincoln City and then back to Portland by way of rolling farmlands on the North Oregon Coast Electric Byway.

Portland to Scappoose

Charging stations:

  • Portland, Electric Avenue, 121 SW Salmon Street (between SW 1st and 2nd Ave.)
  • Scappoose, Fred Meyer, 51501 Columbia River Highway
  • Westport, Berry Patch Restaurant, 49289 Highway 30

While your car is charging up at Portland’s Electric Avenue, get a jolt of caffeine from Park Avenue Café, or stop in at Rescue Bagels for something to nosh on during the drive. Take I-405 North to Highway 30 westbound. As you leave the city, notice the verdant hills of Forest Park on your left. With more than 5,000 acres of green space, it represents one of the largest urban forest reserves in the country.

In 20 miles you’ll find yourself in the town of Scappoose (pop. 6,802), where you can paddle tranquil Scappoose Bay in a kayak. The secluded watershed, an inlet of the Columbia River, is full of migrating birds, beaver, osprey, otters, turtles, heron, eagles and other wildlife. Take a guided tour with Scappoose Bay Paddling Center or rent a boat to head out by yourself. If you need a charge, there is an EV station at the local Fred Meyer.

Continue west on Highway 30 for 75 miles to Astoria. Along the way you’ll pass through the Coast Range and catch glimpses of the mighty Columbia. Charge up at the Berry Patch Restaurant in Westport.


Charging station:

  • Astoria, Sunset Empire Transit District Station, 900 Marine Drive

Driving into Astoria, you’ll see the wide mouth of the Columbia River as it spills toward the Pacific Ocean. Astoria has a maritime flavor like no other Oregon Coast town. Settled in 1811 as a basecamp for the Pacific Fur Company, Astoria remains a working port town. You can watch huge cargo freighters pass under the soaring span of the Astoria-Megler Bridge, the longest continuous truss bridge in North America. (Some of the best views are from the luxurious rooms at the Cannery Pier Hotel & Spa.) Stroll the waterfront to see the docked fishing boats, or steep yourself in maritime history at the Columbia River Maritime Museum and the adjacent wooden boat building hub of the Barbey Maritime Center for Research and Industry. From here you can walk to Fort George Brewery + Public House or Wet Dog Café and Brewery for some of the best beer on the Coast.

For a bird’s-eye view of the town and river, climb the 164 steps of the Astoria Column on the city’s hilltop. Charge your electric vehicle at Sunset Empire Transit District. For human fuel, you’ll find a great breakfast at the Blue Scorcher Bakery Café and beer-battered albacore tuna at Bowpicker Fish & Chips, housed in a converted gill net boat.

Back on the road, head south on Highway 101. Stop at Fort Stevens State Park to view the bones of the shipwrecked Peter Iredale where it ran aground in 1906. Visit Fort Clatsop at Lewis and Clark National Memorial Park to learn how the Corps of Discovery survived the Oregon winter here in 1805. From the fort, walk the 6.5-mile Fort to Sea Trail to Sunset Beach and experience the same forests, meadows and beaches Lewis and Clark explored.

Seaside and Cannon Beach

Charging stations:

  • Cannon Beach, Cannon Beach RV Resort, 340 Elk Creek Road

The 25-mile drive from Astoria to Cannon Beach takes you down Highway 101 along the Pacific Ocean. Passing through friendly little towns such as Gearhart (pop. 1,488) and Seaside (pop. 6,453), you’ll begin to appreciate the state law that makes all 363 miles of the Coast free and open to the public.

Enjoy Seaside’s 1.5-mile beachfront promenade, where you can get a bite to eat, visit the Seaside Aquarium and check out the reconstructed salt works of Lewis and Clark. After you’ve strolled the beach and had your fill of people-watching, drop by Seaside Brewing Company for a pint of craft beer and some fish tacos or a crab roll.

Stop at Ecola State Park for gorgeous views of the ocean and the potential for spotting migrating gray whales. (The park is one of 24 whale-watching sites established by the state.) Hike the trail to Indian Beach to watch surfers catching waves and stroll the rocks in search of tide pools.

Four miles farther, you’ll find yourself in downtown Cannon Beach (pop. 1,691). The quaint town is a walker’s delight, full of boutiques, cafes and restaurants. Iconic Haystack Rock (235 feet) rises out of the surf at the central section of the beach. Part of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge, it’s a wonderful place to watch tufted puffins, gulls and cormorants, or peer into teeming tide pools. In the evening, watch the bonfires flicker to life one by one. If you are up for a longer hike, Hug Point, five miles south on the beach, has an unexpected, 12-foot waterfall.

Perk up with a cup of coffee at Sleepy Monk Coffee Roasters or a fresh Danish, muffin or loaf of original Haystack bread at Cannon Beach Bakery, family-owned by a third-generation baker. Stop for dinner at Public Coast Brewing Company, where you can choose from nine beers on tap and a menu of fresh catch, organic beef burgers and house-made brats. (Don’t miss Stephen’s Ankle Breaker Root Beer Float.) If you’re staying overnight, Cannon Beach has many lodging options. Check out the family-friendly Surfsand Resort or the romantic Stephanie Inn. Charge your vehicle at the Cannon Beach RV Resort.

Tillamook, Pacific City and Lincoln City

Charging stations:

  • Tillamook, Fred Meyer, 2500 Main Avenue N.
  • Lincoln City, Cultural Center, 540 Highway 101

Follow Highway 101 South from Cannon Beach toward Tillamook. You’ll get great views of the Pacific Ocean, water birds and sea lions along the drive as well as many options for beach combing or strolling the quaint streets of charming little towns such as Manzanita, Wheeler and Bayview.

In Tillamook, don’t miss the Pelican Brewery & Taproom for a pint of craft beer and a tasty bowl of chowder. The Tillamook Cheese Factory draws cheese lovers from around the world for a self-guided tour and the chance to sample a range of specialty ice cream flavors. Charge up at the Tillamook Fred Meyer and then head back out toward the Coast on the Three Capes Scenic Tour. This detour off Highway 101 will take you past the Cape Meares Lighthouse and Cape Lookout State Park and down to Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City, where you can settle in on the patio at Pelican Pub & Brewery to drink a beer and watch surfers ride the waves and historic dory boats land on the beach.

In Lincoln City, you’ll find wide-open beaches and some of the best wind for flying kites on the Coast. The annual kite festival in June highlights expert kite demos, kite-making for kids and some of the biggest, most unique kites in the world. Charge your car at the Lincoln City Cultural Center and then head south to Devils Punchbowl State Natural Areawhere you can peer into a large bowl carved out of the stone by the dramatic churning of the ocean, and explore the tide pools on the north side of the feature. Stop in at Blackfish Café for a menu of fresh catch, chowder and fish and chips. Be sure to visit Mojo Coffee to fuel up on caffeine for the drive home. The 90-mile drive back to Portland from Lincoln City will take you along OR-18 into the northern section of the Willamette Valley, where you can check out the Willamette Valley Bounty Electric Byway and find charging stations in Grande Ronde, McMinnville and Newberg.

Travel Tips

Don’t own an electric vehicle? You can rent an electric BMW i3 from ReachNow in Portland. Visit the ReachNow website for information about how to sign up and start driving.

For the most up-to-date information about EV charging stations around Oregon, download the PlugShare app. This online resource provides real time detail about station locations and services as well as trip planning features.

Check out Oregon’s Electric Byways Road Trips for more EV itineraries around the state.

About The

Eileen Garvin
Eileen Garvin lives and writes in Hood River. When she’s not hunched over her keyboard or digging in the garden, you can find her mountain biking, kiteboarding, hiking, skiing or camping somewhere in Oregon.