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New Beach Driving Restrictions, Fencing At Oregon Coast's Cape Kiwanda

Published 05/21/21 at 5:55 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

New Beach Driving Restrictions, Fencing Atop Oregon Coast's Cape Kiwanda

(Pacific City, Oregon) – A bevy of changes at Pacific City's Cape Kiwanda will make the north Oregon coast hotspot a little safer for everyone. Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission has approved new restrictions for driving on parts of Cape Kiwanda's beach and at Tierra Del Mar, and new, improved fencing has gone up on the cape that should ease some of the death rate that plagued the spot over the last decade. (Photo above courtesy OPRD)

The new fence – a much more elaborate, trail-like system – was unveiled this past week, which Oregon State Parks and Recreation (OPRD) said will now offer different views of the rocky headland and the wild surf below.

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Driving on the beaches from Tierra Del Mar to the Sand Lake area had been previously allowed during some parts of the year, but the new OPRD rules have now ended that. It is prohibited year-round. The beach south of the Tierra Del Mar access remains open for driving, however, allowing vehicles to go all the way to the north side of the cape

Also no longer allowed is driving on the sands at the main entrance to Cape Kiwanda's beach, on the southern face of the headland. Only vehicles launching boats are still able to traverse the beach on the north end of the boat ramp, which is found at the large county-owned parking lot. From the southern side of the ramp, no cars are allowed at all. However, some exceptions can be made for boat launches or retrievals if the area north of the ramp is not safe.

Signs at both beach accesses make the driving rules clear, OPRD said.

Cape Kiwanda's beaches were temporarily closed to all motor vehicles in 2020 during the height of the COVID crisis, in cooperation with the county over its crowding concerns. Revenue shortages and a resultant lack of staff were also part of the reason for that shut down.

Park Manager Jason Elkins said the new rules are already making a better experience for beachgoers.

“This change moves nearly all the motor vehicles to designated parking areas off the beach on the south side of Cape Kiwanda,” said Elkins. “It's great seeing families having a natural experience on the beach without dodging cars.”

The other major change is atop the famed north Oregon coast headland itself, where the walk up the sandy, steep dune should now make for a safer visit with new fencing. OPRD said the top area has numerous dangers, including sheer drops into the ocean and the edges are prone to erosion. Between 2014 and 2016, six people died on Cape Kiwanda by falling off, and visitors routinely wandered outside the fencing area. It has been a major hazard for some time.

Now, the new barrier structures do something the old fencing didn't: allowing you to see new geologic features that were beforehand 100 feet or more out of view. OPRD said this new structure creates more views and viewpoints.

It was unveiled on May 20.

“We want visitors to enjoy better views without being tempted to cross a fence,” said Elkins.

The new structures are higher than the old fences and a little more impassable.

Cape Kiwanda became a state park back in 1973, and the fencing has undergone numerous new configurations since then. OPRD said it has been difficult to maintain because sandstone is a much lighter rock material and crumbles easily. That, together with the elements were causing the destruction or decay of fencing over and over.

This new structure has a little something in common with Oregon Wine Country: it uses the same sturdy wooden posts found in vineyards and in growing hops. These have a coated, nonreflective chain link covering the spaces under the rails.

OPRD said the new fencing structure was installed at a cost of $30,000, utilizing crews from OPRD and Department of Corrections crews. MORE PHOTOS BELOW

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