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Where the Pointy Things Are on Oregon Coast: Famous Spires

Published 05/09/22 at 4:25 PM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Where the Pointy Things Are on Oregon Coast: Famous Spires

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(Oregon Coast) – No one ever said it was smooth sailing around the shorelines of Oregon. Sure, the long expanses of sand are soft and easy to walk on, and they're perfect for watching sunsets. But little on the Oregon coast can replace the dramatic shapes of many of its rocky forms. Some of that scenery gets startling when it includes the pointed spires among those distinctive shapes. (Above: Howling Wolf Rock in Bandon. Courtesy Manuela Durson - see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more)

When things get spiky out here, that's when some of the most remarkable photographic moments can happen.

Bandon. Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint has a lot more going on than the legendary princess wading in the waters. The entire beach is chock full of rocky blobs and a few sharp spires.

Many of them have names: two that are popular are Howling Dog and Wizards Hat Rock, which look very similar but they're hundreds of yards apart.


The Basket of Kittens next to Face Rock. Courtesy Manuela Durson - see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more

The really pointy objects go by titles like The Castle, Basket of Kittens and the Needles (or probably more correctly The Needle – singular). Names around this south Oregon coast hotspot get tossed around rather freely and it's sometimes hard to figure them out. It doesn't help that Bandon folks decades ago had completely different names for them.

Basket of Kittens is the jagged set of rocks that stretch out near Face Rock, and it's part of her origin story. Another acicular chunk lies near the tip of a promontory and looks much like Howling Dog and Wizards Hat.


The Castle. Courtesy Manuela Durson - see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more

The Castle is aptly named, which definitely can look like some medieval structure's ruins from certain angles.

Most remarkable about all these rock structures here is that some are of entirely different compositions from other groupings, and all millions and millions of years old. As Eugene geologist Marli Miller told Oregon Coast Beach Connection:

“Just walk about the sea stacks at Bandon - a lot of them are sandstone,” Miller said. “But a lot of them are highly fractured and faulted. Go down the beach and another block is different altogether. It’s really wild to see all these different rock types kind of thrown together.”


Photo: Oregon Coast Beach Connection

Cannon Beach's Needles. The other famous Needles are on the north Oregon coast at Cannon Beach, part of Haystack Rock's little group. The Needles surround it to the south, making for spire-like points in some instances.

Haystack Rock and its companions are about 14 – 17 million years old and have a really odd geological origin. They are called “intrusives” because all of it was once part of a larger lava flow that was so powerful it dived underground when it reached softer material, then re-erupted here.


Photo: Oregon Coast Beach Connection

Pulpit Rock near Manzanita. Tucked away far behind and below chunks of Neahkahnie Mountain, Pulpit Rock can't be seen unless you hike a certain ways down the trail towards Short Sands Beach, or at least from the Devil's Cauldron area.

The spiky remnant of some larger structure that's been eroded away, Pulpit has had this name for a good 100 years.


Seal Rock. Just south of Newport on the central Oregon coast, Seal Rock is an intricate gathering of rocky shapes and blobs, but there's the occasional pointed bits of leftover lava amid these specimens. They punctuate an otherwise rounded-yet-jagged view, rising up from the others and standing out.

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