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Deeper Inside Cape Kiwanda: Ancient Details, Fallen Arches on N. Oregon Coast

Published 08/02/20 at 3:54 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Deeper Inside Cape Kiwanda: Ancient Details, Fallen Arches on N. Oregon Coast

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(Pacific City) - The gargantuan, sweeping cliffs of Cape Kiwanda create one of the more legendary spots along the entire Oregon coast, making for dramatic sights left and right. It's held visitors mesmerized for generations, with pictures going back some 100 years, featuring people in thick, stuffy post-Victorian clothing goofing around the top of the ancient headland. These days, it's drones, selfies, experimental art nudes when no one's around and some jaw-dropping night imagery using pro gear and tripods. See Complete Guide: Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area

Cape Kiwanda is the centerpiece to be sure, but there's more going on than that. More is getting revealed.

Climbing up these steep slopes is half of the fun (albeit laborious), then exploring the otherworldly expanse of pock-marked landscapes and structures on the top. From some areas, you can see the winding labyrinth of small headlands and odd shapes that meander throughout the northern end, all up against the raging sea below.

Cape Kiwanda in the 1920s

Here some of the oddball treasures lie, and only recently with the proliferation of drones are we able to see distinctive and strange new shapes most haven't seen before.

Further exploration brings you to the top of the dune: a towering monster of sand where people take pleasure in shoving themselves off and sliding downwards on sandboards – or literally just rolling their bodies down.

Everyone knows what Cape Kiwanda looks like from the usual, slightly frenetic parking lot at the southern end. But what's on the other side of this north Oregon coast icon?

A hidden park on the northern face of the cape allows driving on the beach, and from this access it's almost a mile to the sloped dunes and golden structures of the landmark. It's called McPhillips Beach, and you can find it by an unmarked road darting off westward, about a mile north of the main cape entrance. [Note: as of this writing in 2020 driving at McPhillips and Tierra Del Mar beaches is suspended; check Oregon State Parks for updates if you're reading this after 2020]

N. Oregon Coast: hovering above Cape Kiwanda with some remarkable colors. Photo courtesy Instagram's...

Posted by Oregon Coast Beach Connection on Friday, May 22, 2020

From this vantage point, more engaging shapes appear. It becomes apparent that a major chunk of the cliff eroded somewhere in the past, leaving chunks of sandstone sitting just a ways off the main structure. Some have little tufts of vegetation up top. They're like tiny micro environments to themselves.

Until about 2010, there was an arch here, through which you could see colossal waves firing up against the boulders and other rock formations. When that arch crumbled it left tons of debris around the area, thus blocking off the ocean there. Now, you can get closer to that “oceanic canyon” and peer inside that wild, chaotic section, a chunk of Oregon coast that would kill you in an instant if you ever stepped inside those raging waters. Hotels in Pacific City - Where to eat - Pacific City Maps and Virtual Tours

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