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Curious Travel Tips from Oregon Coast You Haven't Considered

Published 04/19/21 at 9:25 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Curious Travel Tips from Oregon Coast You Haven't Considered

(Oregon Coast) – From fossils to the curiosities of spring and summer, untamed wildlife and finding less crowds, there's still so much to discover about the Oregon coast, no matter how many times you've been there.

Seasons change and so do the facets of fun around here. Take a look at some travel tips you probably don't know.

Cape Sebastian on the southern Oregon coast (courtesy Oregon State Parks)

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Secrets of Spring. Most years, the post-spring break weeks of April and May see the Oregon coastline a bit ignored, although the pace has definitely picked up in recent years. It's generally a good time to get away from crowds because most don't want to deal with the rather erratic weather where squalls come in and out almost startlingly often. This leaves lodging cheaper, less people on the roads, etc.

This April has been a strange one, however, with far more sunny days than usual and some major rushes of summer-like crowds.

An odd pro tip: Don't want to deal with Memorial Weekend crowds? Often the weekend just before is rather emptied out because everyone has plans to go on the big holiday.

Summer Goes Longer on the Coast. It's nicknamed the "Second Summer," and it's something that's still a bit of a secret to many in Oregon. The best weather on the coast happens in September and early October, often quite warmer than during the summer. The science of why is a long story, but suffice it to say the fact that lodging prices begin to drop and there are less crowds make that month and a half probably the best time to hit the sands.

Early October gets especially inviting as that's when people largely stop coming in droves and the sun still shines. Around the middle of the month is when things often turn to the slightly more wintry, but that hasn't been so every year for the last 20 years. Perhaps it's a climate change thing, but those lovely days still keep going through to near the end of the month more often.

Finding Fossils. Normally, wild wave action of winter reveals fossilized creatures millions of years old just lying around the beaches in great abundance, or showing in bedrock where lots of sand has been cleared away. Yet calmer times of the year have these as well.

Oregon officials suggest looking at Beverly Beach, Fogarty Creek State Park, Seal Rock, Cape Blanco, and Arcadia Beach. On the south coast, you'll also occasionally find them floating around Sunset Bay and Shore Acres near Coos Bay because of all the unusual rocky blobs in the area. Moolack Beach around Newport is a remarkable stretch as well, although often the stuff is still stuck in the cliffs. Keep your eyes peeled around there – and anywhere else you see fossils in cliffs. It's not unusual for them to be nearby.

Remember: it's illegal to pull any fossil out of the rocks but fine to pick them up off the beaches.

Cape Arago, courtesy Oregon's Adventure Coast

Wilder Side of Wildlife: Seals, Sea Lions, Elephant Seals. In spring and early summer is when pupping season begins for most pinnipeds along the Oregon and Washington coast. And once summer comes along you'll start finding elephant seals molting on the beaches – which is a painful and unpleasant process for humans to watch. In all cases, you're supposed to stay away from these creatures and their young.

But what if you want to watch the babies at a decent distance? Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) has the answers for the season on both the northern and southern half of the Oregon coast.

“The easiest marine mammals to observe are harbor seals and sea lions,” the agency said. “Often seen in bays lounging on piers, tideflats, or sandbars, these animals can be entertaining to watch. Good locations for viewing include the South Jetty of the Columbia River, sandbars in Netarts Bay, near the mouth of the Siletz River, Yaquina Bay between the jetties and along the bay front, sandbars and beaches near the mouth of Alsea Bay, Cape Argo, Rouge Reef, and Simpson Reef.”

Down around Coos Bay, elephant seals are a possible find – but rare – at Simpson Reef's Shell Island or Cape Arago State Park.

There, as on the regulat public beaches, ODFW said it's normal for a mother seal to leave her pup on the beach for a long time while hunting.

“Please remember to stay away from them,” ODFW said. “If they are in a high traffic area, please call your local State Park so signs can be placed around the animal to tell others to stay away. If you think a marine mammal is in trouble, please call the Marine Mammal Stranding Network at 800-452-7888.”

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