Where Interstellar Phenomena Meet the Oregon Coast
(Oregon Coast) – The old axiom of “on a clear day you can see forever” should probably be reworked to “on a clear night you can see forever” when it comes to the Oregon coast. And while such pristine conditions aren't exactly what the coast is known for, they do happen more than most regulars to the beaches believe and they, in turn, provide some incredible views of the rest of the galaxy (above: just south of Cannon Beach).
When the night falls on the coast, the lack of air pollutants and the dispersed sources of light interference in such a rural area make some for stellar viewing of the stellar realm above. Some of the best spots are the highest vantage points as well.
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. 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.
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.
Finally, 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 astronomy and discovery – or for that matter simply find a romantic, starlit moment high above the waves.
Below: Manzanita at night
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