Moments of Wild, Intense Color Along the Oregon Coast
(Oregon Coast) – It's often half the fun of hitting the beaches of the Oregon coast: those moments of wild color that suddenly explode all around you near sunset and make the most memorable photo of your jaunt. It's where the world abruptly changes its color scheme, and everything is riotously brighter and more intense.
But it doesn’t always happen the way you might think. There are some surprise places and times you may find such striking moments.
Dusk, is of course, the surest way to find monster colors. That, and some sort of version of sandstone. Like at Gleneden Beach here, between Lincoln City and Depoe Bay. These soft, often delicate cliffs tend to erode faster in the winter (they’ve become problematic for oceanfront homes on top of them during storms). But their composition becomes downright radiant, even almost glowing given the right conditions.
This is the opening of the pathway down to the beach at Gleneden Beach State Park.
Another stunner at dusk is Roosevelt Beach, between Yachats and Florence, a tiny ways into Lane County. The stubby knoll with its slightly cave-like indentation is shared by the access on the other side known as Ocean Beach Picnic Area – and it has an identical indentation on that side.
This sort of sandstone fires up nicely during the last rays of sun, while a flock of sea birds in the distance turn a bright silver as well. There’s a nice campground lurking a ways back from 101 in this spot as well.
Here is proof that summer isn’t necessarily the best time to catch these crazed colors. Early fall often presents the Oregon coast with a phenomenon called “Second Summer,” where the coast is at its warmest during the whole year. This was the tail-end of that, one October at Cannon Beach, as a fairly warm day turned quite cold at Ecola State Park. It then lit up the sky with a host of intense shades of purple, pink and blue.
Cape Kiwanda – at Pacific City - can be the most strikingof recipients of such vibrant colors. The departing sun can set this sandstone afire and positively make it glow in golden tones, while turning the sea a deep blue, complimenting the cape perfectly. It’s a scene that’s at once exotic and warmly familiar – one that’s paradoxically eye-popping and yet comforting, because you already know this cape well.
Spring can bring the most remarkable shades at the end of the day, often in somewhat muted tones – but many times not. Especially April and May, when fat, puffy clouds dominate the coastline and the thick, damp air of numerous showers from the day collide to create spectacles in the sky.
Such cloud configurations happened here at Yachats in late April, causing unusually powerful colors to bounce around those clouds in just the right way.
Surprise colorizations occur in time and moments you probably haven’t considered, especially on the coast. At night, for example, if you train your eye to see them, the coast takes on a whole new, powerful visual life.
The camera then really brings these out, as it sees and records chemical reactions from light sources and gasses in the atmosphere that humans can’t see. Like this foggy night at Newport’s Nye Beach, where the fog picks up and grabs everything around it and hold them there in mid-air, making otherworldly greens, yellows and shades of red hover in designs you didn’t even know existed. It’s ethereal, surreal, unbelievably beautiful and yet slightly disconcerting in its stark newness.
Also incredible for finding exploding colors in ways you hadn’t imagined before is broad daylight itself. This is obvious, of course, as everyone knows flowers look their best in the bright of day.But other plant life you may not have considered – as well as geology – also explode with different colors in such conditions. The secret beach at Oceanside (just beyond the tunnel through Maxwell Point) shows off brilliant, almost alien colors of the moss-like material growing on these gargantuan basalt rocks. The ancient stones themselves seem to shimmer a little in this suntan-inducing atmosphere.
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