Coast Travel Tips: The Other Fall Scenic Drive
road heading into the Arch Cape Tunnel: strange mists may appear
at any time
- There are moments when the most interesting times at the beach
aren’t really on the beach at all.
the scenery from the safety and warmth of your car is one of those
long-standing American traditions, especially when autumn rolls
around. As more wintry weather encroaches on Oregon’s coastline,
bringing with it the tempestuous storms as well as the colors of
fall, the region is the other fall drive favorite of Oregonians
and travelers from elsewhere. Sure there are mostly big, exploding
waves and tiny burghs with charm-inducing architecture, but autumn
too wraps its vibrant flag around the foliage of the coast, creating
a unique atmosphere and vibe that only the ocean shoreline can.
The fog and
mists of the season is also something you’ll catch sight of,
along with interesting tidal action and perhaps the striking oddity
or two, such as sea foam so frothy it gets thrown onto the highway
like small flurries of surreal snow.
to the coast becomes more concentrated on staying out of the weather
rather than walking around in it, this when the fall drive becomes
a bit of a necessity. Still, the pleasures you can take in from
the comfortable vantage point of your moving vehicle can be thoroughly
memorable, even unforgettable.
Creek, s. of Yachats
beaches abound in this area, where even on high-density days like
Memorial Day, summer weekends or such, you'll find less people.
Try Bob Creek Wayside, where more tide pools populate this obscure
but fascinating place. They really emerge at lower tides, clinging
to odd, mushroom-shaped rocky blobs at the southern end. At this
end, there's also a small sea cave and a huge boulder that creates
a sort of arch by leaning up against the cliffs here.
Motel, Rockaway Beach
If expansive ocean views, close proximity to
golfing, fishing tours and quick access to seven miles of
pristine beaches is your thing, then this quintessential beauty
in Rockaway Beach is your ticket to vacation fun for families,
couples or large groups. Some rooms are pet friendly. All
rooms at the Tradewinds Motel are immaculate and have TV’s,
VCR’s and in-room phones with data ports. The oceanfronts
all have a queen bed, a double hide-a-bed, kitchen, cozy firelog
fireplace and a private deck. Some oceanfront units come with
all those amenities but the kitchens. Both types sleep up
to four people. The non-oceanfront rooms are appointed with
a queen bed, small fridge, and coffee maker – sizable
for a two-person romantic getaway, yet still perfect for those
on a budget. There is an elaborate oceanfront Jacuzzi suite
that has two bedrooms, coming with a kitchen, double hide-a-bed,
fireplace and private deck, sleeping as many as six. For those
wanting bigger accommodations for family reunions or large
gatherings such as weddings, some rooms can connect to create
two-room and three-room suites. 523 N. Pacific St., Rockaway
Beach. (503) 355-2112 - 1-800-824-0938. www.tradewinds-motel.com
At the north
end, you'll find plenty of mussels - but you'll have to cross the
creek to do so. During the winter that's difficult, if not impossible
and certainly unwise.
Most of the
beaches here are a mix of sandy stretches and large basalt structures
- perfect for exploring and climbing. Spots like Bob Creek, Neptune
State Park and Strawberry Hill contain dozens of craggy marvels.
All the while, you're driving above the ocean, with a constant stream
of splendid views and beach accesses like these, mere steps from
their parking lots.
On this route,
you'll also find the Cummins Creek Trail, where hikers can wander
up the mountain above this shoreline.
Coxcomb Hill, the top of the town is reched via a long, winding
but very scenic road
The oldest town
west of Mississippi lies right here in Oregon and is filled with
layers of historical significance beyond that achievement. Just
south of here, at Fort Clatsop, Lewis & Clark set up camp in
1805. There was a nasty fight over the town between Britain and
the U.S. not long after the Corps of Discovery left. And there was
a horrid prevalence of the act of "shanghaiing" in this
port town for a time (where able-bodied men were drugged and woke
up to find themselves working on a sailing ship).
traditions are still evident today - beyond the enormous ships which
pass through, to and from, the mouth of the Columbia. With the majority
of the town squeezed into some leg pain-inducing steep hills, the
streets are crammed with awe-inspiring Victorian mansions (most
of which are on the national historical register). You'll find yourself
mesmerized by these gorgeous structures and the near overdose of
quaintness and history this town exudes.
City Vacation Homes
There’s something for everyone
among this selection of wondrous homes: smaller homes with
a view to a large house that sleeps 15. All the homes are
either oceanfront or just a few steps away from the sand
– all with a low bank access and fantastic views.
Most are in the Nelscott area; one is close to the casino.
You’ll find a variety of goodies, depending on the
home: fireplaces, multiple bedrooms, dishwashers, Jacuzzis,
washer/dryers, hot tubs, cable TV, VCR, barbecues; there’s
a loft in one, and another sprawling home has two apartments.
Pets are allowed in some homes – ask ahead. Each comes
with complete kitchens so you’ll have a home away
from home. Most have the seventh night free. Prices range
from winter $85 to summer $230 per night. www.getaway2thecoast.com.
Newport and Depoe Bay
- both high and not so high - line this twisting, turning highway,
and give way to unforgettable vistas of endless sea. If you're coming
from Depoe Bay, it all begins just south of town at Rocky Creek
Wayside. Pull over here and see the waves pound the pillow basalt,
or maybe spot some whales.
Zip up the hill
on 101 - or take the immediate right, at Otter Crest Loop, to cruise
down this tiny road (which eventually becomes a one-way) to catch
more amazing views. There are some hidden spots to discover here
as well - if you're up for a hike.
Above it, 101
meanders even higher as it reaches Cape Foulweather. There, you'll
find an eye-full of ocean, as well as a funky gift shop full of
wonders (see if you can find the clippings from Beach Connection/Oregon
Coast Guide tacked to a wall in the back).
cliffs below Foulweather
more high viewpoints front convenient turn-offs as the road slithers
down the hill - with Newport's Yaquina Head Lighthouse coming into
view for the first time. Soon, you'll encounter the road to the
Devil's Punchbowl, Otter Crest and its various vantage points, also
with no shortage of stunning ocean views. But here, you can gawk
at the swirling madness of the Punchbowl (a sea cave with the top
missing), where the ocean can get frightfully frenzied and frenetic
during stormy weather.
Paradise Suites & Vacation Rentals - Seaside
Unique Luxury Accommodations in Seaside. 1BR
Suites, 1BR & 2BR Duplex Units and 3BR Houses, units for
2-8 people. Rent our entire property for 20-26. All units
close to beach, river and Broadway St.
Suites are designed for two adults; vacation rental units
for families. All units have kitchen and many have fireplace,
deck and jetted tub. Enjoy comfy robes & slippers, luxury
bath amenities, quality linens and more. See us on The Travel
Channel's "Great Escapes" show in August 2006. 741
S. Downing St., Seaside. 800-738-6691. www.SeasideSuites.com
South of Otter
Crest, the highway hovers above the beaches just north of Newport,
with the pristine sands of Moolack Beach and Beverly Beach State
Park streaming past as you drive.
Corridor of Mystery
spot along 101
City and Pacific City you'll find the forested corridor that twists
and winds up and down huge hills, and takes you away from the beach
for a while. Soon after Lincoln City, you'll pass access roads to
Cascade Head and its hiking possibilities, as well as Three Rocks
Road (the route to the arty Sitka Center). The entire drive, fall
colors are especially vibrant, as you pass through tunnels of towering
trees covered in autumn’s flag.
distinctly noncommercial village of Neskowin appears soon. Not long
after that, huge, dramatic hills and basalt walls flank you on either
side, covering your view of the ocean. The road rises and falls
here, periodically allowing viewpoints to pop into view.
About two miles
after Neskowin, you'll find a secret beach access at the road marked
Wenema Road. It's a spectacular place, where hardly another soul
is to be found, coming complete with pristine, untouched sands,
climbing possibilities on the cliffs and a large blob of a sea stack.
Along the Inland Routes
Highway 26 runs
from Portland to the north coast, and through dense forests, with
several stunning viewpoints along the way, overlooking small, comely
valleys. About 15 miles from the Cannon Beach/Seaside junction,
you can take squiggly, wormy Highway 53 for a beautiful (but somewhat
white knuckle drive) shortcut to Wheeler, where each twist and turn
reveals another chunk of primitive forest. As you get into the farmlands
of Tillamook County, the close knit, small mountains of the coast
range can resemble Europe. When blobs or blankets of mist sit lodged
in them, they can look like ghosts just hanging out near the peaks.
18 wiggles from Portland to Lincoln City (eventually joining with
Highway 22 from Salem), wandering through the wine country of Yamhill
County. It's easy to get distracted in the wine tasting possibilities
here and never make it to the coast. But fall colors are especially
shattering in this area, where they literally explode all over the
route. Wander off the highway into the backroads near Sheridan and
discover some amazing hidden parks that will blow your mind.
Van Duzer Corridor, just outside Lincoln City, is jam-packed with
forested wonders, like secret hiking paths and inviting streams
in great abundance.
between Corvallis and Waldport, is a long, winding scenic route,
full of funky rock structures that surround streams, veiled parks
and more deep forests. One major attraction you shouldn't miss is
Marys Peak - the highest mountain in the coast range. It sits just