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.
Nature Insider Tips for the Oregon Coast
(Oregon Coast) - The second of two parts in BeachConnection.net's series on insider travel tips for the Oregon coast concentrates on the natural world - with some surprises about how to really take advantage of that irresistible beach environment. There are fossil tours, wildlife tours, tips on where to find fossils, events for birders, kayaking possibilities, hidden nature spots most don't know about and much more. Especially this summer, there's much to do.
Fossils on the Beach
Did you know the coast has its own "Fossil Guy?" Newport's Guy DiTorrice runs fossil guide tours around the area, helping you to discover the fossilized remains of ancient lifeforms that dot the beaches. Check out. www.oregonfossilguy.com or call 541-961-1762 for more information on costs and arranging a time.
DiTorrice offers up some interesting tidbits of his own, such as Oregon's "beaches are home to one of the heaviest concentrations of 15- to 30-million-year-old fossils in North America." He also says some of the greatest shell locations are at Charleston, north of Florence at Strawberry Hill, the small parking lot north of Seal Rock and the section of beach just north of Ona Beach State Park (near Waldport.)
Lincoln County's Secret Delights
According to Newport beach expert Guy DiTorrice, the best beach access for getting a sunset shot or birdwatching in Newport is at NW 68th St. Plus there are great minus-tide tide pools there, he adds. You'll find that a bit north of Yaquina Head.
Both DiTorrice and Newport’s TC Caldwell pair up on advice for one heck of a scenic ride just outside of Newport: both tout the Yaquina Bay Road between Newport and Toledo. DiTorrice says it has excellent scenery, plenty of turnoffs, lots of birds and no crowds." While Caldwell notes the remains of the 1885 Oregon Pacific Railroad can be seen there, and that: "Oregon Oyster Farms is the state's oldest - established in 1907. They ship anywhere in world."
It can be found six miles east of the bayfront on Yaquina Bay Road. (541) 265-5078.
Caldwell adds that the largest concentration of waterfowl in Yaquina Bay is found at Sally's Bend.
If you're look for more waterfowl, Lincoln City's Visitors Center says that Devils Lake has a greater density of waterfowl than "any other wetland habitat on the Oregon Coast."
They add that Lincoln City "has more motel and hotel rooms than any town on the coast between San Francisco and Seattle."
Caldwell also says that Newport's Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area has the only "handicap" accessible tide pools "west of the Mississippi, maybe in the US." You can find these concrete pathways meandering down around the manmade tide pool area, allowing close-up viewing by anyone in a wheelchair.
There's also a handicap-accessible viewing deck at the very edge of Lincoln County, just south of Yachats. You'll find the platform at Cook's Chasm, immediately south of the Devil's Churn.
These are in abundance throughout the summer, especially on the central coast.
Lincoln City’s Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge is offering kayak tours through the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Spend a half hour paddling through the Wildlife Refuge and learn about the natural history of some of the plants, wading birds, water fowl and other wildlife that inhabit the estuary. Each participant must provide his own kayak or canoe. Email Annie Kilby or call 541-867-4550 or 541-270-5606.
Wednesday, June 4, 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. Thursday, June 12 8:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. Sunday, June 29 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. Tuesday, July 8 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 15 12:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. Thursday, July 17 1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. Saturday, July 19 2:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. Friday, August 1 1:15 p.m. - 3:15 p.m. Saturday, August 9 7:45 a.m. - 9:45 a.m.
Between Yachats and Florence, the Audubon Society is hosting “Ten Mile Creek Sanctuary Tours” at that pristine beach access. Learn about restoration and coastal temperate rain forest with Manager Paul Engelmeyer, (541) 547-4227. Variable price for tour groups.
Each Wednesday through Sunday, there’s a roving interpreter at Yachats’ Smelt Sands State Wayside and the 804 Trail (Memorial Day-Labor Day). Learn the trail's history and find native plants. Begins at Smelt Sand parking lot and heads north. Smelt Sands State Wayside, one mile north of downtown Yachats, on Hwy 101. At Yachats State Park, hear programs about tide pools and the whales seen from the park's platform. Find Yachats State Park at the west end of 2nd St in downtown Yachats.
At Strawberry Hill, explore tide pools with the Roving Interpreter and hear about harbor seals resting nearby on the rocks. Find Strawberry Hill 5 miles south of downtown Yachats on Hwy 101. 800-551-6949.
May – September: Heceta Lightstation Tours, daily. Check out the famed lighthouse up close and personal. Noon – 5 p.m. 14 miles south of Yachats on Hwy 101. Call to confirm (541) 547-3416.
In Newport, OceanQuest ’08 brings daily guided estuary tours to the Hatfield Marine Science Center, as well as Antarctica auditorium presentations. These happen daily in June, July and August. 2030 Marine Science Dr., Newport, Oregon. Admission by suggested donation. 541-867-0100. http://hmsc.oregonstate.edu
The Yaquina Birders & Naturalists group is holding quite a few events for the summer. There’s lots for folks who are into coastal birds and marine critters. All events take place in or around Newport and are free.
Thursday, June 19. Eric Horvath and "Birding Southeast Arizona." Eric will show photos taken from several birding trips to SE Arizona. He will talk about special birds of that area, from Elegant Trogon and Gray Hawk to Rufous-winged Sparrow. 7:30 PM at the OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center Education Wing Room 30/32. Please use the Staff Entrance (NOT the entrance to the Visitor's Center), follow the signs, and park near the Library. Cost: free.
Saturday, June 21: 7-9 a.m. "Birds of Mike Miller Park." Eric Horvath will lead this Yaquina Birders & Naturalists field trip. Eric writes: "We will look for Hermit & Wilson's Warblers, Purple Finch, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Wrentit, Bewick's Wren, Swainson's Thrush, and many other birds." Meet at Mike Miller Park, South Beach, just south of Newport.
Sunday, July 20. "Tidepooling at Seal Rocks." Cynthia Trowbridge will lead this Yaquina Birders & Naturalists field trip. Meet on the beach near the NW Cross Street pullout (about Mile Post MP 151.2) by 7:30 a.m.
Friday, August 22. “Birds of Newport Area.” Range Bayer will lead this Yaquina Birders & Naturalists field trip. Please meet at the OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center Visitor's Parking Lot at the Flagpole by 1 p.m. Duration: afternoon.
Contact Range Bayer for more info, at 541-265-2965.
Discover the Beach in a New Way
The Seaside Aquarium will get really beachy with Beach Discovery Days each weekend in July and August. On Fridays and Sundays, these take place at the estuary at Quatat Park in Seaside, 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 a.m. On Saturdays, they happen on the beach in front of the aquarium – 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 a.m.
You’ll see animals found on the beach and in the estuary. Each of the event days, aquarium staff will grab a sampling of critters found on the beach or the estuary – depending on where the event is that day. See and touch mole crabs, pipefish, perch, hermit crabs, clams, sand dollars and whatever else the marine environment presents.
There’s a tank that duplicates wave action, so you can see how sand gets washed away in the winter and brought back in summer. You’ll even find a sampling of beaches from 20 miles away, so you can see the difference between beaches.
Beach Discovery Days are free. Call the Seaside Aquarium for more info: 503-738-6211.