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Three Intricate and Intriguing Rock Structures of Oregon Coast

Published 07/24/21 at 6:15 PM PDT
By Andre' GW Hagestedt, editor

Three Intricate and Intriguing Rock Structures of Oregon Coast

(Gold Beach, Oregon) – There are always surprises lurking along these 362 miles of Oregon coast, even in spots you've been to a lot. You simply have to look closer, or maybe visit a few times during the year, as beaches can change drastically.

Looking for some intrigue along these shores? Here's three places with fascinating aspects galore.

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Kissing Rock, Gold Beach. Just barely south of Gold Beach on the southern Oregon coast, you hit a viewpoint and turnout with a rock feature slightly towering above the highway. Here, you've reached the Hunter Creek Turnout and Kissing Rock – not an official state park or anything, simply a wondrous little spot filled with beachy delights.

Kissing Rock itself is a tall structure with a slightly curved shape at the top, looking a bit like a dollop of chocolate. It can look fairly different if viewed from the south or the north, but that curled aspect always remains.

It's unclear why this south Oregon coast landmark is named Kissing Rock. Perhaps the tiny cubbyholes within it (though some are downright claustrophobic) made good makeout spots while hiding from the wind. Or maybe it's that chunk of rock that's missing that looks like a mouth agape to some degree, although frankly it looks more like a bitey face than something of a romantic nature.

Either way, there's more to this formation than meets the eye: you've got to go look inside a bit.

The rest of what is known as Hunter Creek Beach is a mix of those slightly harder sands of a grayish color (meaning possible gold flakes), a few other rock blobs, and some of those pock-marked, funky rock structures that are elemental to the south Oregon coast. It all dead-ends a little less than four miles to the north at the Rogue River, but goes on for a few miles to the south until you encounter the cliffs and isolating bends of Cape Sebastian.

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Heceta Head. On this varied and fun-filled beach near Florence, two sea stacks cap the headland which sports the Heceta Head Lighthouse and a labyrinth of amazing trails that show off unforgettable views. On the beach below, at least on sea cave inhabits the cliffs here and provides tons of amusement possibilities.

The big one is on rare occasions accessible, especially if summer sand levels get really high and keep the tideline way out, imitating a low tide. Inside, it's dark and damp, with oddball items flung inside with insane force by the sea. It's humbling and even spooky to ponder what it took to do that.

The interesting story about the closest sea stack to Heceta Head is that it was once actually much more connected to the headland. However, tourists in the earlier part of the century spent so much time getting stranded or in trouble on the rocky bluffs that state authorities blasted the accessible chunks of rock away to keep folks from getting up there.

The lighthouse allows visitors and tours (depending on time of year and COVID restrictions), and the keeper's quarters is a B&B. The beach is a mix of tidepools, caves, sand, cobblestones, occasional agate beds and various birds that like to feast or just hang out.

Cape Kiwanda. Wonders never cease on top of the golden, weather-sculpted cliffs of Cape Kiwanda - the centerpiece to Pacific City. Just offshore, as if guarding it for the past eternity, sits the stately Haystack Rock (one of three with that name on the Oregon coast).

You scale to the top of this stunning north coast landmark via a strenuous incline made of loose sand that makes it harder to climb. Once there, however, incredible sights abound, such as wild, craggy structures with weird color schemes that often resemble another world. The whole top of Kiwanda has been reworked in the last year with new fencing and better, safer ways to get that super awesome selfie with some of the famous rock features, so some of the formerly secret trails to incredibly dangerous spots have been cut off.

Exceptional to oddball lines are left and right up here, with alien landscapes serving up glimpses of parts of the cliff which jut and wriggle their ways out into the ocean. There's a nearly endless parade of incredible viewpoints you can't get anywhere else in the area. Then, on sunny days, the cape becomes especially entrancing as the sun sets the cliffs on fire and causes the tumultuous water below to turn a deep, dark blue in stark and unforgettable contrast.

Down below, there's a sea cave that sometimes becomes visible. It's never safe to enter, but at extreme low tides you can occasionally get close and snap a pic of a place rarely seen.

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

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