Constant Killer Views Abound Near Florence
(Florence, Oregon) – Between Yachats and Florence is a kind of exceptional no man's land on the Oregon coast, a 25-mile-long stretch of deserted beaches, niches and sandy or rocky nooks and crannies that never let up in their visual wow factor. From Yachats southward, about 12 miles or so, it's one soaring crest after another on the coast's Highway 101, when it suddenly flattens out a bit – for a while.
This is around Muriel Ponsler.Wayside, a tad south of Roosevelt Beach and Ocean Beach Picnic Ground. At Ponsler, things suddenly become flat and sandy, much like the majority of Florence. But head just a few more miles down the road, right up to about where Heceta Head happens, and you suddenly have a stretch of merely three or so miles crammed with some of the most dramatic views on all of the Oregon coast.
Heceta Head itself is downright captivating, with its magnificent lighthouse soaring into the air. You can see quite a ways around your from trails up above the famed light.
Take a right turn back onto 101 here, heading south, zip through the tunnel, and you'll find a few white-knuckled curves as the vistas literally explode around you. A series of pullouts along the road are guarded by rather charming stone masonry, looking a bit like a castle of sorts.
You'll immediately notice you are looking south towards the Heceta Head Lighthouse and down on some stunning, plunging cliffs.
On the southern face, a completely secret beach sits, closed off from any access, right next to Devil's Elbow State Park, which houses the lighthouse. You can never go there – just look down on it. In fact, it's a rookery for sea lions for the area.
Looking straight out to sea and it's nothing but incredible, distant horizons. Look down – a few hundred feet – and you'll see gobs of seabirds and sea lions living side by side. Get a powerful zoom lens and you'll be able to get a really good look below.
To the south of the viewpoints, soaring cliffs spill suddenly into the ocean, covered in a mix of green foliage and black basalt. They do so in interesting, wrinkly shapes.
Wander a curve or two and the Sea Lion Caves attraction comes into view. Nearby, a spot of forest land offers some wowing views towards more basalt cliffs just to the south, including this one that was torn apart by either erosion or some relatively quick geologic event.
For about a mile or so you continue curving along and really there aren't any viewpoint pullouts here – unless you know where to look. A couple of very secret pathways along these basalt cliffs show off some astounding new angles on those bubbly basalt cliffs that dive into the ocean.
From one vantage point – if you have a zoom lens – you can witness some mind-blowing wave action at the mouth of the cave that is Sea Lion Caves. In the photo here, you can see the sea lions loitering just above the sea cave entrance, probably a good 40 feet above the ocean. Take a quick look at that massive wave trying to crawl up the rock and you can do the math how big that probably is.
Also from here, parts of Florence come into view. The long, sandy stretches of the town's soft beaches and the lakes just inland can be seen in a kind of aerial view from here.
These views also dominate your sight along the highway as you cruise southward towards Florence, which sits in the exact midway spot on the Oregon coast.
From here, it is all downhill – not in terms of quality, but literally. The road suddenly dives downhill towards Florence, and you soon enter thick forestland and plenty of parks that offer lots of lakes, sandy stretches, horseback riding and even some freaky plants that eat bugs (at the Darlingtonia Wayside).
While there are no more official viewpoints, there's at least one sizable gravel spot to the side of the road, including this one, where a trail leads down to the beach.
You'll find Florence on the central Oregon coast, about 25 miles from Yachats and around 50 miles from Newport. It is about a three-hour drive from north coast towns like Cannon Beach or Seaside, and a perhaps a little longer from Portland if you take I-5 down to Eugene and then over to the coast.
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