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An Oregon Coast Wild Card: The Unseen Depoe Bay
Virtual Tour of Depoe Bay, Gleneden Beach, Lincoln Beach, Otter Rock, Oregon Coast

Cape Foulweather at night

(Depoe Bay, Oregon) – There's a lot of stuff crammed into the tiny area known as Depoe Bay, a largely rocky shelved shoreline on the central Oregon coast, between Newport and Lincoln City. There's plenty in town that will yield surprises, if you do just a little exploring. But open your territory up to include a couple miles on either side of town and suddenly you have a world of discovery and wonders to take in. There's enough in these six or seven miles that you can't possibly explore it all in one day (above: Cape Foulweather at night).

Add to that the extremely secretive aspect of “what for just the right moment” and you have a shocker of a coastal experience coming to you. In other words, timing can be critical here too. Encounter this tiny spot on the right day or hour, under different conditions, and it's a treasure trove.

Sometimes the most amazing sights in the Depoe Bay area aren't where you are – but when. Just south of town sits the towering Cape Foulweather, where you get a monumental ocean vista from some 500 feet in the air. This is one of the most spectacular lookouts on the entire Oregon coast at any given moment. But come up here at night, on a calmer evening, and the sight of the moon glistening on the water will be burned into your brain forever. It's beyond magical.

In this particular photo, taken around 2 a.m., a ghostly fog envelopes part of the area as well, creating even more awe-inspiring atmosphere.

North Point area of Depoe Bay

The North Point area of Depoe Bay is one of the most magnificent chunks of shoreline in all of Oregon – but few know about it. It sits tucked away behind a neighborhood of homes, without any signage, in the northern half of town. It's all bulbous basalt rock cliffs, all of which overlook some mighty and dramatic surf, even in the calmest of conditions. On slightly crazier days, you can even feel the sea smack the cliffs as it vibrates into the rock.

From here, you can actually look back at Depoe Bay as if you were on a boat.

Fogarty Beach in fog

Fog, is of course, a camera's best friend sometimes, even if it isn't always so for the visitor to the Oregon coast. But Fogarty Beach, a tad south of Depoe Bay's city limits, admittedly looks a bit more dapper and mysterious under these foggy, dusk conditions that have bent the light into a strange shade.

Depoe Bay in otherworldly violet

The seawall at Depoe Bay is by far one of its most popular features. The famed Spouting Horn can fire off sea water some 30 feet into the air at times. Whales are often spotted with almost startling frequency from here, and it's a never-ending kick to watch the fishing boats, Coast Guard vessels and tour boats wander in and out of the tiny baymouth.

Again, it's the time that's more important than the place - at times. As in this almost unearthly scene found in June 2011, as the sunset takes on a fiery, otherworldly violet, as if you were looking at Depoe Bay in another parallel universe.

Another famed and prominent feature of the area is the wild and wooly Devil's Punchbowl, just south of Cape Foulweather. During heavier storms it lives up to its name, with a boiling cauldron of deadly waves swirling around inside. Even in calmer conditions that caved-in former sea cave is not hospitable to humankind wandering around.

Every once in a while, however, a huge minus tide allows us mere mortals to meander inside. This past summer, where a lot of high sand levels created some unusual conditions, the Punchbowl allowed access to its interior a little more often than usual. This was the scene on some summer days at this otherwise unfriendly place.