Oregon Coast Travel Secrets: Digging Deep Into Depoe Bay
(Depoe Bay, Oregon) - It's a tiny town, but it's huge on charm and hidden treasures. Depoe Bay, sitting essentially halfway between big cities Newport and Lincoln City, is a combination of almost-hidden getaway and bustling touristy hotspot.
This lovely little village curiously straddles the roles of natural wonder and strip mall, while still managing to ooze a strong sense of serenity and beauty. Whatever civilization takes away here, nature still more than makes up for it in fun and scenery.
Along Highway 101, countless shopping and eating opportunities populate the landward side, while the seaward side makes for some amazing discoveries. Numerous curio shops, art galleries, wine tasting in a "cave" (Depoe Bay Winery, 541-765-3311) and scrumptious eateries create a touristy vibe to this otherwise virginal sampling of coastline, but you can often find oddities and pleasantries you can't purchase anywhere else.
Depoe Bay State Park and the Spouting Horn
Phenomenal stuff lurks along this shoreline and behind the seawall.
It's essentially known as the State Park, and it's here where spouting horns will wow you with their enormous power and propensity for pounding you. Under the right tidal conditions, fissures in the rocks below the seawall will squeeze the water into one giant squirt, spouting seawater high into the air. Occasionally you'll catch the delightfully surreal sight of spouting horns shooting high enough to soak cars on the highway. Be prepared to get soaked if you're parked near them and venture outside your car.
Here, the Whale Watch Spoken Here headquarters caps the entrance to the park, a large lighthouse-looking building which sports some pretty nifty viewing areas and comes complete with those binocular contraptions that take 25 cents or so to operate. Watching the boats exit the bay, whale watching or just cuddling is the big pastime here.
Venture onto the rocks beyond the viewing areas and the seawall for more interesting discoveries. But you don't want to get too close to that unpredictable surf or fall into one of the hard-to-spot crevices. Be careful.
Beneath the Bridge
You'll find another viewing area just below the bridge, on the seaward side of the highway. From there, the walkway wanders beneath the bridge to the bay and the landward side of 101. This is a better option for crossing the street since 101 here is usually a madhouse of car traffic, but it's also a pleasant walk which can yield its own surprises.
This area is lighted at night and can really come to life in its own way then.
At the bay, you'll find yourself amidst the hustle and bustle of the various attractions as well as the businesses and boats making their living here. Seals and seagulls often take up residence in the bay, and if you're lucky, you might spot a wild seal doing tricks for scraps of food provided by one of the fish processing businesses just beneath the viewing platforms.
The bay here is known as the world's smallest navigable harbor.
Up on 101, indulge yourself in shopping, the eating of various delights, or wine tasting at the cave-like Depoe Bay Winery.
It's called Depoe View Park, and it's essentially a big secret. Look for Vista St., follow that to its end (be courteous of parking here, since it's someone else's neighborhood), and then treat yourself to an amazing span of puffy, bubble-like basalt cliffs.
Throughout this entire section, large and small crevices, perches and an endless amount of craggy boulders make for incredible climbing and exploring fun. All of it sits about 50 ft. above where the roaring, rather frightening surf pounds onto the cliffs below. You can sometimes even feel the waves hitting the rocks as their power resonates through the stone.
One spot looks eerily like an old ruin of an ancient stone dwelling, with the basalt actually forming a small, sunken room and steps going down into it.
At its very northern end, gawk at the strange, track-like shapes in the rocky cliff. At the southern end, a large formation juts out into the sea, sometimes allowing you to climb up and walk out even farther out over the ocean. A spectacular sight here is the ocean spraying this section with either small waves or a constant stream of thick, salt-water mist.
More Rocky Secrets
Once again, another trippy, rocky treasure lies tucked away behind one of Depoe Bay's neighborhoods. This is one lies at the end of South Point St., at Depoe Bay's southern end.
This stretch of bubbly basalt bluffs is much like the Depoe View Park, but with even larger, more spectacular crevices dotting its craggy expanse. It's even more fun because it's actually not as easy to climb around on, and parts of it zigzag downward to rocky shelves close to the waves, often where beautiful tide pools dwell.
Fishing off these shelves is a favorite activity here as well.
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