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Tense But Wonder-Packed Oregon Coast Scenic Drive Between Depoe Bay, Newport

Published 05/04/23 at 6:44 AM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Tense But Wonder-Packed Oregon Coast Scenic Drive Between Depoe Bay, Newport

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(Newport, Oregon) – The grandest of viewpoints, hints of a forest primeval, intense ocean vistas, and a drive that is both white-knuckled and a soaring form of bliss: it's crazed and it's wondrous in this stretch of central Oregon coast between Depoe Bay and Newport. Viewpoints are high and not so high, but relentlessly beautiful. The highway is twisting, turning and downright dangerous at times – especially since you're tempted more than ever to gawk at the sights whizzing by in a part of Highway 101 where you could just go sailing off into the deep blue and wild blue yonder at the same time. (Rodea Point, all photos Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

Unforgettable vistas of endless sea pop out at you one after the other, starting just south of Depoe Bay at the Rocky Creek State Scenic Viewpoint. In any weather, this region is fire. You're tempted to check out every little thing along that 18 miles of Oregon coast highway. And you should: but be advised there's more to it than meets the eye, and just this little chunk will eat a day or two of exploration.

At Rocky Creek, pull over here and see the waves pound the pillow basalt, or maybe spot some whales. This is, after all, a hotbed area for whales to hang out. They're drawn to the Depoe Bay area by all the kelp beds that hide their favorite foods.

Rocky Creek hosts some hidden treasures, like this bench overlooking the wild surf of this remote tract of bubble basalt.

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. One set of cliffs lying below a gravel pullout will knock your socks off. See the Depoe Bay Virtual Tour for more.

Tense But Wonder-Packed Oregon Coast Scenic Drive Between Depoe Bay, Newport

One of the absolute most dramatic spots of the entire Oregon coast lies at that junction with 101 and the little road: Rodea Point (see above).

Above it all this, 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.

From here, 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.

Devil's Punchbowl, Otter Rock

Soon, you'll encounter the road to the Devil's Punchbowl, Otter Rock 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.

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.

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

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