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Land of Giants, Wild Sands at Ariya's Beach, South Oregon Coast

Published 08/15/21 at 6:29 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Land of Giants, Wild Sands at Ariya's Beach, South Oregon Coast

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(Gold Beach, Oregon) – A land of arches, holes, crusty caves, gobs of tidepools, intriguingly shifting sands, and of course a land of towering giants: that is the place called Ariya's Beach on the southern Oregon coast, part of Meyers Creek Beach and in turn part of the state park's Pistol River park. (Photo courtesy David Prasad / Flickr, cropped from the original below).

Who Ariya was and how a beach was named after her isn't known, but she must've been drop-dead gorgeous, like this singular, distinctive southern Oregon coast semi-hotspot. Ariya's Beach is sandwiched between the two parts of Meyers Creek Beach: Meyers Creek Beach Viewpoint and the Meyers Creek Pullout south. It's a bit less than a half mile between them.

A caveat: look out for alternating spellings of Meyers Creek as it sometimes shows up as “Myers,” even on Google Maps.

Either way, you're at Ariya's Beach when you're approaching that huddled mass of sea stacks and blobs, with the southern border approximately where the “kissing rock” is. It's not actually THE Kissing Rock that's north of Cape Sebastian. Although this spire does have a look of a face puckering up.

It's easy – and just fine – to get Meyers Creek, Pistol River Middle and Ariya's all mixed up. They're really one big long stretch that starts from that dip down Cape Sebastian and that inimitable bend where so many photographs are taken. There, you're moving past Hunters Cove and its dark, probably gold-laden sands; then Hunters Island and that eye-catching eastward-leaning blob – a sea stack that looks like it was frozen in time after getting drunk.

This whole few miles from here to the Pistol River and Crook Point get some amazing dune action. Dunes here build high in the summer and spring, often with massive dips between them, creating mesmerizing, even eccentric shapes. Gigantic holes seem to appear in the spaces between them, at least when you're looking down from above. Other times, they get gracefully sculpted into unique latticework-like shapes, or maybe grooves. Even wilder still: periodically the mix of moisture and fast winds create hundreds of mushroom-like shapes and forms all over. They're so intricate that newbies to the Oregon coast cry foul on social media, claiming the pics aren't real. They are (see examples here, though not taken from Ariya's)

As you roll past the Meyers Creek Beach Viewpoint, you'll see a couple of large, flat slabs out at sea. The southernmost is Cave Rock where there actually is a giant opening through to the other side.

At the cluster of rocky giants at Ariya's Beach, yet another arch pops into existence, cloistered between the colossal formations. Sometimes ocean mists create wild, imaginative effects here. Other times photographers catch sunlight streaming through like some magical portal.

There are rare, extreme low tide moments you can walk out there. If you're lucky you'll see the hole in its ceiling.

Periodically, the seas are calm enough for wading here, and you may encounter a small sea cave during real low tide events. Bundles of tidepools are scattered about Ariya's Beach and its towering residents. Sometimes they cover huge sections of the bottoms of these rocks, meaning these parts are usually underwater. That's a bit humbling to look at these chunks and know where you're standing is normally Sponge Bob territory.

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Those rocky plops are usually part of the Otter Point Formation, a strange geologic tale that goes back well over 140 million years. Rocks of the Otter Point Formation – like many sea stacks on the southern Oregon coast – are a melange of ages. They started forming way back and kept being added onto, so the rocks themselves actually contain parts from all over time. It's about as Dr. Who as you can get without having a TARDIS.

From the main viewpoint of Ariya's Beach, a gentle slope lets you descend to this land of gargantuans and wacky sands. Craggy objects abound, sometimes with diagonal lines showing one kind of geologic uplift or another. One feature almost looks like a soaring dinosaur tail.

At some points in winter, the foliage on the hillsides can turn bright oranges or yellows – truly remarkable colors. In summer, glorious flowers bloom with intense shades of pinks or purple.

It's all a short drive from Gold Beach. 541-469-0224. MORE PHOTOS BELOW

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Courtesy David Prasad / Flickr

Courtesy Flickr/Matt Kieffer

The area in the 70s: courtesy Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees nearly 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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