Spring Break Kicks Off with Whale Week, Astronomy Parties Around Oregon, the Coast
Published 03/23/2017 at 4:13 AM PDT - Updated 03/23/2017 at 4:15 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff
(Oregon Coast) – On the first Saturday of spring break, you can catch wonders from the deep and in the universe above with two – well, stellar – events. Whale Watch Week begins, and there are some surprises this time around. Also, two star parties – one near the Oregon coast – will help you see the stars much closer. (Above: stars above Cape Foulweather, near Depoe Bay).
Whale watching will be at the top of everyone's list, as Whale Watch Week gets started on Saturday, March 25 and going until March 31. From 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. each day, volunteers will be at 24 sites along the Oregon coast to help you spot the great cetaceans on the way to their feeding grounds up north.
The word along the central Oregon coast is that the gray whales are making a good showing rather early. But wait, that's not all folks. Reports of Orcas are also coming in from around the Yachats and Florence area, which increases your chances of seeing something doubly spectacular.
Orcas often follow the gray whales as they chase the newborns for food. This usually happens in April, but this time around they are being seen earlier than usual.
The Whale Spoken Here spots are:
Ecola State Park in Cannon Beach has one, and there's another about 15 miles south at the Neahkahnie Mountain Historic Marker Turnout on Highway 101, just above Manzanita.
On the Three Capes Tour there is Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint, Cape Lookout State Park (that one requires a 2.5-mile hike to the site at the tip of the Cape), and then several miles south at the top of Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City.
In Lincoln County, you'll find the most sites: Inn at Spanish Head Lobby on 10th floor (Lincoln City), Boiler Bay State Scenic Viewpoint (near Depoe Bay), The Whale Watching Center/in Depoe Bay, Cape Foulweather and the Devil's Punchbowl State Natural Area (both between Newport and Depoe Bay), Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area in Newport, and Don Davis City Park, also in Newport.
The next one is about a 30-minute drive south, past Yachats, at the Cook's Chasm Turnout (directly on the Lincoln County/Lane County line).
About 15 miles south of there is the Sea Lion Caves Turnout – the large pullout on Highway 101, just south of the tunnel and a bit north of Florence.
On the southern Oregon coast, the Whale Watch sites are Umpqua Lighthouse, near Umpqua Lighthouse State Park, Shore Acres State Park, Face Rock Wayside State Scenic Viewpoint, Battle Rock Wayfinding Point, Port Orford, Cape Ferrelo, Harris Beach State Park, Brookings, Oregon, and the 9th Street Beach, Crescent City, California. More at whalespoken.org. Click here for best Whale Watch Week lodgings on the coast. Where to stay for this event - Where to eat - Maps and Virtual Tours
If you want to shoot for the stars for your spring break, Saturday, March 25 provides just that opportunity with Equinox Star Parties in the Gorge and the Oregon coast range.
OMSI and Rose City Astronomers will celebrate the changing of the season with a free Star Party at both Rooster Rock State Park and L.L. "Stub" Stewart State Park. From beginners to experts of all ages, this is your opportunity to view the stars and other celestial objects up close and personal through telescopes. Viewing highlights include the planet Jupiter, waxing gibbous Moon, Orion Nebula, and more.
Rooster Rock State Park is located 22 miles east of Portland on I-84 just east of Sandy River at exit 25. To reach L.L. "Stub" Stewart State Park, take US-26 west of Portland and turn right on OR-47. The event starts at sunset and is free with $5 parking per vehicle. Warm clothing and a flashlight with red light are recommended. Personal telescopes and binoculars are welcome.
On the scheduled day of each OMSI Star Parties, it is suggested that interested visitors check back at OMSI.edu for possible weather-related cancellations.
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