Two Central Oregon Coast Drives of Intense Beauty, Soaring Sights
(Yachats, Oregon) – Sometimes, you just have to do it by car.
Sometimes, the weather just does not cooperate on a trip to the Oregon coast. Or even if it is in a really good, sunny mood and disposition, you want to see a large swath of it in one sitting. A nice drive will fit this bill nicely.
On the central Oregon coast, near the very center of the state's beaches, two wild and rugged possibilities lurk next to each other. Some of the best views and drives are nestled cozily along the water's edge between Florence and Yachats. These provide some of the most intense scenery from the comfort zone of your rig.
Cape Perpetua Auto Tour. Whether it's rain or shine, the area around Cape Perpetua is a consistent wow-inducer. Just south of Yachats, a few hundred feet south of the Devil's Churn parking lot, you'll find the entrance. The sign is clearly marked here: take the road on the east side of the highway to get to the Interpretive Center, to go to the top of Cape Perpetua and its trails or to take the 19-mile, 45-minute tour around the mountain and back to Yachats.
Stay straight, and you soon have the choice of taking the big Auto Tour and scenic route, or wind your way up the small mountain to the top. You'll meander through a thick rainforest before ending up back in Yachats.
The tiny, twisting ride to the top provides an enormous reward, however. Here, you've risen 803 feet above the sea and the panoramic view is awe-inspiring - augmented by an atmospheric stone wall encircling the viewpoint.
“This is always one of my favorites,” said Angela Rawlins of Eugene. “We always stop at the little stone building looking out at and over the ocean. It's just jaw-dropping.”
South of Yachats. It's the kind of drive that could be your last: it's so tempting to keep looking out the window that it needs a lot of discipline to keep your eyes on the road.
Rawlins never tires of this one.
“I just discovered it recently, having found out a lot of the show Bates Motel films here,” Rawlins said. “All those ocean vistas and beach road scenes are filmed right here.”
This mere 25-mile stretch between Florence and Yachats is filled with numerous tight curves atop high cliffs which create a never-ending cavalcade of amazing ocean views. If the weather is rough, there's plenty to see along this route. And if it's anything but rough, it's among the most pristine and uncrowded sections of all the Oregon Coast.
First up, south of Yachats, you begin the climb towards Cape Perpetua and the Devil's Churn, as blackened basalt shelves meander between you and the sea in various, unidentifiable shapes. For the next 20 miles or so, the road rises and falls, interspersed with rocky landscapes and sandy beaches dotted with boulders and basalt structures.
Some have bluffs and some are fairly flat, but all are rather bereft of human presence. At Strawberry Hill, climb out over a large headland with steps embedded in the rocks and sand, and wander down to a sandy stretch of various colors and textures, where boulders and formations create a kind of labyrinth. Tide pools reign supreme here.
There's the cobblestone surrealism of Bob Creek Wayside, where at low tide, weird mushroom-like rocks emerge that are covered with crusty marine life and starfish. At Rock Creek Campground and Roosevelt Beach, there's sand and small sea stacks, with a patch of basalt that cradles an idyllic, babbling brook. A bit south of there, spots like Muriel O. Ponsler Wayside are all sand, and it's about where the landscape flattens out to seemingly endless beaches.
Just north of Florence, you'll hit the incredible views near Heceta Head Lighthouse and Sea Lion Caves, where a myriad of pullouts allow you to gaze in awe at the wildlife covered cliffs and dramatic waves slamming into bulging structures at the bottom.
“I love all this stretch,” Rawlins said. “There's not a bad beach in the bunch.”
More on this area below and at the Upper Lane County Virtual Tour, Map.
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