Covering 180 miles of Oregon coast travel: Astoria, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita, Nehalem, Wheeler, Rockaway, Garibaldi, Tillamook, Oceanside, Pacific City, Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Newport, Waldport, Yachats & Florence.
Oregon Coast Travel: Insider Tips from the Locals, Part 1
(Oregon Coast) - Fighting high gas prices, the rules for fires on the beach, where can you go camping on the beach, and more. These are all big questions and concepts that plague visitors to the Oregon coast, and there's plenty you should know before you head out to the beaches.
Plus, there are plenty of tidbits of info that many tourism agencies don’t tell you about, like how fall weather is warmer than summer on the coast, the meteor showers that are best seen from here, and more.
This is only part one. BeachConnection.net found so many insider tips and relevant tourism information hidden beneath the surface, we have to publish these in two parts.
Rules for Fires on the Beach
These are overseen by Oregon State Parks, but most beaches have their own rules posted at the entrance. Quite a few don't even allow it, so make sure you check.
Rules are often basic, but strict. According to the Oregon Coast Visitor Association's web site: "Use small pieces of wood only. Large logs are prohibited. The fire must be west of the vegetation line, NO EXCEPTIONS. Build your fire away from the beach grass & piles of driftwood. Extinguish the fire with water. Don't just bury it. Doing this will allow the fire to remain hot and continue to smolder for hours. This could also cause someone to get burned."
Dealing with Gas Prices
The proctology-like prices at the pump these days are no secret, and everyone is paying through the nose.
Nehalem and Cannon Beach have generally higher-than-normal gas prices, sometimes ten or more cents per gallon. Seaside’s gas prices are a little more comparable to Portland’s, although on the southern end of town the stations are a bit cheaper.
If you’re closer to Rockaway Beach, Garibaldi’s gas prices tend to be parallel with Portland, as do Tillamook’s. Pacific City tends to be a little higher than average.
Many north coast locals make their big shopping trips to the Fred Meyer’s in Warrenton, and then fill up there, where gas at that Freddy’s seems a little lower than many places. This is often – but not always – true of the Freddy’s gas station in Tillamook, which is near the big cheese factory.
On the central coast, the Space Age gas station – in the middle of town, near D River – tends to be the lowest on the coast. Prices in Lincoln City, Depoe Bay and Newport tend to be much those of Portland, although sometimes a little higher.
With Salem generally trailing Portland by a couple cents, Salem visitors may find prices slightly higher than home.
Prices in Yachats are often sharply higher than the state average, much like in Nehalem.
Don't Run Out of Gas
Also, beware the possibility of running out of gas in the wilderness of the coastal highways.
Highway 6, between Portland and Tillamook, has a 40-miles
stretch where there are no gas stations. The last one until Tillamook
is at about the 41-mile marker. Road signs on both directions of the highway
warn where that gasless tract begins. Get fueled up in Tillamook, or along
Highway 26 before the Highway 6 junction, just to make sure.
Towns like Yachats, Rockaway or Manzanita could find you stranded after the early evening, or stuck in one of the long stretches near there, between major towns. In Florence, Newport, Depoe Bay, Lincoln City, Tillamook and Seaside there are usually 24-hour gas stations, so watch your fuel gauge closely if you're making long trips late at night.
Yachats does not, so be careful of any trips between Florence and Newport late at night. And there’s a huge, 40-mile gap with no gas stations after a certain hour between Garibaldi and Seaside. That means after 10 p.m., there’s no gas available in Rockaway Beach, Wheeler, Nehalem, Manzanita and Cannon Beach. In fact, Rockaway does not even have a gas station at all.
Are you Under 25 and In Seaside?
You may have a problem finding lodging. Many lodgings in the north coast town don't allow young folks under the age of (approximately) 25 to rent a room without a parent or guardian. It's a popular hotspot for early twentysomethings, and young partiers have apparently ruined it for the rest in the eyes of many business owners. The age limit differs between lodgings, but it's generally around 23 - 25. It's best to call ahead to your favorite lodging to double-check.
Meteor Showers Spectacular
While it's true that August's annual meteor showers that splash the night skies can be seen anywhere in Oregon, make it a point to check it out on the coast. The crisp skies of a clear coastal night make for some incredible viewing of these. One spot on the coast that's legendary for viewing the showers is Mount Hebo near Tillamook, a ways inland from the beach.
Summer Goes Longer on the Beach
It's nicknamed the "Second Summer," and it's something that's still a bit of a secret to many in Oregon. The best weather on the coast happens in September and early October, often quite warmer than during the summer. The science of why is a long story, but suffice it to say the fact that lodging prices begin to drop and there are less crowds make that month and a half probably the best time to hit the sands.
Pitching a Tent Anywhere?
Nope. Not allowed. Places like Manzanita, Tierra del Mar
and the chunk of Clatsop County between Seaside and Astoria outright ban
camping on the beach, as do some state parks. And while it's not necessarily
stated that it's prohibited to pitch a tent on some beaches, don't be
surprised if authorities come and boot you. Read the signs at the beach
Guidelines like this make it a little hard to follow. Parts of Manzanita might appear to be open to camping, if you didn’t know better, because there is a specific ordinance there that targets a chunk of the beaches at the north end, with signage warnings. But no signs exist on the southern end of town, not far from the beginning of Nehalem Bay State Park.
State Park official maintain it’s simply best to not try camping anywhere on the beach, as it’s hard to tell where you may get ticketed.
“As far as it goes, we try to discourage beach camping due to safety and sanitary concerns,” Woody said. “The main problem is access: where do you park? I hope this does not confuse the whole thing, but the bottom line is that overall it’s not a good idea to camp on the beach.”
Woody cited several reasons it’s not a smart move - beyond the whole aspect of where do you go to the bathroom.
“Aside from high tides and rolling logs, the other hazards I can think of might be rocks rolling off the bank,” Woody said. “This has happened once that I can remember. Or people looking for an easy target to scare or terrorize. This has happened too.”
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