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The Great Arches of the Oregon Coast - And Those You Didn't Know

Published 05/11/22 at 3:45 PM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

The Great Arches of the Oregon Coast - And Those You Didn't Know

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(Oregon Coast) – The first glance fills us with intrigue, firing up the imagination with the thought of pirate ships wandering through, or maybe as portals to another existence. The arches of the Oregon coast are one of its more engaging features – and there's a boatload of them. Some are rather hidden, but you have to know where to look. (Above: photo of Elephant Head Rock in Bandon courtesy Manuela Durson - see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more)

Luckily for you, there's this almost complete guide of the great arches along these shores.

There's no way to put them all in one story, but this is a start, especially with those examples you probably don't know exist.

Goonies Rock, Cannon Beach. At Ecola State Park, you'll find the sizable rock offshore that's referred to as Goonies Rock – but it was never a part of the movie The Goonies. It's simply gotten mixed up with a place in California where they filmed that final scene with the arch, and the fact other scenes were filmed in Cannon Beach.

Photo: Oregon Coast Beach Connection

Arch Cape. This one, near Cannon Beach, is often hidden from view by the tides. You can't get there unless it's a really low tide or one of those extraordinarily high sand level events during summer. It's worth the wait, though.

The arch at Arch Cape used to be three arches: the whole thing was once a large spider-like structure that fell apart in the '40s or so.

Hidden Arches at Manzanita. To see these you have to walk a bit down to a rather dangerous hidden spot off the gravel pullout that overlooks Short Sands. On either side, the jagged, ancient basalt of this mountain cloisters two magnificent and strange arches. You can actually see one with a powerful zoom lens from the beach, however.

Rockaway Beach. Perhaps the best known of the big arches along the Oregon coast, Twin Rocks sits just offshore and is actually one big structure. It has a remarkable geology story to tell.

Three Arch Rocks, Oceanside. Little do many people know the famed giant blobs off Oceanside's beach are full of holes. You can see the arches inside them from up above at Cape Meares. They were also made national wildlife refuges over a century ago by President Teddy Roosevelt.

Small Arch Between Florence / Yachats. The northern, rather unmarked part of Neptune State Scenic Viewpoint contains a small arch hidden in the sands. Go to the lower part of the oft-unpopulated place and you'll find it fairly quickly.

Bandon's Elephant Head Rock and Mythic Gateway. A large variety of rock blobs dot the landscape around Bandon's Face Rock area, and many come with elaborate names and mystifying shapes. One of the most captivating – at least if your timing is right – is Elephant Head Rock and its wildly glowing arch. (See photo at top of story)

This takes the absolute right angle and right moment near sunset, and it isn't often captured. The ocean mists combine with that timing and create an otherworldly glow to it, looking like some kind of gateway. It's one sight that simply can't be beat on the south Oregon coast.

Above: photo courtesy Manuela Durson - see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more

Crook Point and Its Mack Arch / Arch Rock. Down south, near Brookings and Gold Beach, there's several rocks that get the Arch Rock moniker, and none are undeserving. It is more than a tad confusing, however.

That big one off Crook Point, however, is a real eye-catcher, resembling in many ways Twin Rocks in Rockaway Beach. There's another Arch Rock jammed up against a headland in the Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor, and then there's a few others tucked away inside that 20-mile stretch as well. The south Oregon coast definitely takes the prize for the most "Arch Rocks" crammed into the region. Technically, this is Mack Reef and thus Mack Arch. Well, maybe. Mack Arch and Arch Rock seem interchangeable, at least on the net.

Harris Beach State Park and Its Heavenly Arch. Harris Beach at Brookings is one of the more intriguing arches along the Oregon coast, set deep inside a vast and giant rocky slab that towers above you and occupies tens of feet in length. Under many tidal conditions you can approach it from the myriad of jagged, rocky chunks occupying Harris Beach, some of it rising up from the sands in groove-laden tracts. Often, these are likely carved into these shapes by being under the sands a lot of time.

This rock is sometimes known as Arch Rock because of the giant hole in the rock structure. Hit this place at the right time around sunset and it's like some sort of Stonehenge: the light comes bursting through with an almost purposeful path. It lights up the surf and stones in front of it in glorious ways. Like Bandon's rock above, it can create that ethereal glow, making it look like a magical portal.

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