The artful arch of the Alsea Bay Bridge signals your arrival in Waldport, a coastal community 15 miles south of Newport on the Central Coast. Like the bridge, Waldport spans the mouth of Alsea Bay, a waterway renowned for crabbing and rich with wildlife. With easy access to the ocean, the bay and the vast woodlands of the Siuslaw National Forest, Waldport makes an ideal base for outdoor recreation year-round.
Begin: Kick off your visit with a stop at the helpful Alsea Bay Historic Interpretive Center. As the name implies, it has interesting models and displays about Waldport’s historic 1936 bridge and its 1991 replacement. Oregon State Park naturalists offer tours of the bridge in summer, along with clamming and crabbing demonstrations in the flats below. A couple of blocks south, the Green Bike Co-op encourages two-wheeled transportation with free loaner bikes — painted green, of course — and a bike-repair station.
Bay: Crabbing is king in Alsea Bay, an estuary that’s literally crawling with Dungeness crab. Waldport has everything you need to give it a try — public docks, along with crab gear, licenses and boat rentals from outfitters like Dock of the Bay Marina. They’ll even cook your catch. Slide a kayak into the bay to explore the Alsea River Water Trail, a 10-mile route along the Alsea River, Drift Creek and Lint Slough. You might be joined by seals, river otters and certainly birds; the Audubon Society has designated these waters an “Important Birding Area.” Rent boats and sign on for eco-tours through the Kayak Shack, run by Waldport High School students at the Port of Alsea. Anglers know these waters offer outstanding fishing, particularly for fall and winter steelhead.
Beach: Five miles north of Waldport, a scatter of rocks lies just off the sandy beach at Seal Rock State Recreation Site. Although the spot is named for a seal-shaped rock formation, the cute whiskered mammals oblige by hanging out here, along with sea lions and a variety of seabirds. Low tide exposes an array of tide pools. Four miles south of town, campers delight in National Forest campsites fronting the Pacific at Tillicum Beach, an ideal vantage point for spotting whales and enjoying the sunset.
Big Trees: Stop at Waldport’s Central Coast Ranger District office (1130 Forestry Lane) for maps and information about the Siuslaw National Forest that begins just east of town. Steep ridges and drainages define the forest’s exceptional Drift Creek Wilderness, home to the largest tract of old-growth forest in the Coast Range. The Horse Creek Trail weaves under centuries-old Sitka spruce, Western hemlock and Douglas fir, a majesty of trees that provides habitat for the rare spotted owl. All sorts of wildlife thrives here, including Roosevelt elk, mountain lions, black bears and wild salmon and trout; Drift Creek is not stocked with any hatchery fish.
Extend Your Stay: Set on 20 acres on the north shore of Alsea Bay, Alsi Resort is the place to enjoy bay and bridge views. The onsite Waves Restaurant features local seafood like fresh steamer clams and savory smoked salmon alfredo.