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Cape Lookout's Stunning Colors: One Serious Oregon Coast Treasure in Pics and Pixels

Published 01/16/23 at 6:50 PM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Cape Lookout's Stunning Colors: An Oregon Coast Treasure in Pics and Pixels

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(Oceanside, Oregon) – There's little doubt that Cape Lookout State Park is one of the more dynamic places on the north Oregon coast. Set well back off the road that is the Three Capes Tour, the beach here takes a couple minutes worth of a drive through thick, forested layers, and then you arrive at a rather small beach access that gives way to much bigger things. (All photos Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

A hint of that is the soaring trees overhead: wind-blown, weather-beaten specimens that have been blasted by countless Oregon coast gale winds, some left leaning in possibly precarious stances – all rather dramatic. Yet by silhouette they wind up looking almost like tall tropical trees, especially when the deep colors of sunset erupt behind them.

Indeed, it's the colors of Cape Lookout State Park that can create the unforgettable sights and moments, happening somewhere between dusk and blue hour. Like the shot at top, with Cape Lookout itself – the second of the Three Capes – a dark, descending blob that meets the sea.

At other moments, dusk can surprise with how plain it gets. The stream that comes down from the state park along with the tracts of stones covering the place are in a dusk that's given a pale cast by some amount of clouds, so there's just a hint of sundown's usual hues. It's nice, even lighting that shows what much of this beach is made of.

This shot, by the way, is summertime, hence the calm conditions and wider beaches. Hit this place in winter and it can be scary with those raging storms. Not to mention: sand levels decrease and bring the tideline even closer.

Moody spring days produce interesting and complex color schemes to the Oregon coast. There's a lot of pastels and cooler shades you get only between February and maybe June. This shot is typical of April along the shorelines of Oregon.

Once again it's summer, here. You can see the beach is fairly expansive. Keep heading south towards the cape and things get even more colorful with large chunks of rock sticking out that are covered in bright green lichens and algae.

When sunset happens, the softer soils of the cliffs can light up brightly and deeply, almost rivaling the hues of Cape Kiwanda to the south.

These soils hide something fascinating, especially hundreds of feet to almost a mile inland, where things get swamp-like. Embedded here is evidence of various crushing tsunamis, especially the big one 300 years ago. Those fields, complete with dead, worn-down stumps, helped geologists a few decades back prove the extent of that 9.0-generated death wave.

Cape Lookout has also contributed to Oregon coast geology and science in other ways. During some winters, ghost forest stumps about 4,000 years old can pop up on the northern part of the park. Yet for a couple of winters way back around 2007, winter storm erosion was so harsh that it pulled up parts of Neskowin's ghost forest (only 1900 years old) and deposited the debris here. Those ghost forests were thought to be doomed at the time – something climate change will eventually do to them. Back then, however, it was a strange sight to see broken chunks of one ghost forest mix with the older ones still in their sandy graves.

This shot above is one of Cape Lookout's own ghost stumps.

On one late spring eve, dusk's colors began some intense transformations at the north Oregon coast favorite. Cape Lookout's tall trees were in fine form as the sky shifted and clouds tweaked the dials on the hues.

Then came a major surprise. Oregon Coast Beach Connection headed north to Oceanside and this spectacular moment exploded.

Later, after dark, the area was this magical, even sci-fi-like scene. Hotels in Three Capes - Where to eat - Three Capes Maps and Virtual Tours



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

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