Where the Galaxy Comes to Life Above the Oregon Coast
Published 08/06/2016 at 6:01 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff
(Oregon Coast) – That old saying of “on a clear day you can see forever” can – believe it or not – be applied to parts of the Oregon coast at night as well. Astronomy isn't the first thing that comes to mind when people think of this shoreline, and granted it's not ideal for deep space viewing. Overcast skies and ocean mists make that problematic. But there are times and places where the interstellar simply explodes above you. (Above: the stars and moon leave a massive trail in Manzanita).
When the Oregon coast clears up – and it's more often than people think – the complete lack of light interference in many areas brings out the best in the starlight and the glorious Milky Way. Those high vantage points that during the day cause the mouth to fall agape at the stunning sights and endless horizons can make an even bigger splash after dark. Don't be surprised to catch more shooting stars than usual by simply pausing at these places at night for a mere few minutes.
Part of the reason is that the higher elevation spots can be free of those pesky mists, but even the lowland beaches can become so remarkably clear it's as if you've walked into a planetarium.
Where to go?
Down around Depoe Bay and a tad north of Newport, Cape Foulweather may be the mother of all nocturnal viewpoints. Things are pitch black here as well, but the stars can really put on a show from this 500-foot-high vantage point.
Another awesome high point lurks just south of Yachats, near Cape Perpetua. Actually, a few high viewpoints are between here and Ocean Beach Picnic Ground, about ten miles farther south. Cape Perpetua would probably be the mother of all nocturnal viewing spots along the Oregon coast, standing more than 1500 feet high. But it is closed at night. So you'll have to do with some of the overlooks along the way. But none will disappoint if you're looking to either engage in a bit of beachside astronomy and discovery – or for that matter simply find a romantic, starlit moment high above the waves.
On the north Oregon coast, just south of Cannon Beach, those famed pullouts so enjoyed during the daytime can provide incredible viewing of things like shooting stars, aligning of planets and whatnot. They're also fairly safe as they're set a ways back from traffic. You'll be looking down at the rocks of Silver Point if you start viewing from here.
Also incredible in Cannon Beach itself is Ecola State Park, with the lights of city in the distance making for some seriously charming glows.
A bit further south of Cannon Beach, about 15 minutes down the road is Neahkahnie Mountain and Manzanita. This is perhaps the best of them all. Here, you're up above the sea a few hundred feet in the air, with absolutely no lights around you. The only drawback is the lack of a view to the east because of 1600-foot Neahkahnie Mountain right behind you.
Near Oceanside – about 20 minutes from Tillamook – sits Anderson's Viewpoint, a spot famous for launching handgliders during the day. You're quite safe from passing traffic here as well, and in fact there's almost none at night. But that, in a sense, is part of the drawback to this place: there's no traffic here because this road – the Three Capes Loop between Oceanside and Pacific City – is a bit of a handful to drive during the day. It's even more so at night. Where to stay in these areas - Where to eat - Maps and Virtual Tours
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