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Seal Rock a Blast of Colors, Textures - an Oregon Coast Tidepool Hotspot

Published 01/03/22 at 5:10 PM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Seal Rock a Blast of Colors, Textures and an Oregon Coast Tidepool Hotspot

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(Waldport, Oregon) - Somewhere between Waldport and Newport, the landscape along this part of the central Oregon coast on Highway 101 shifts from tree-lined industrial areas and parks to sudden but sometimes intermittent views of the surf. Great forested bluffs hide the Pacific and then abruptly open up with a game of scenic peak-a-boo. The highways winds in and out of tight curves on occasion. The tension seems to be building.

And then, boom. There it is. You've stumbled upon the tiny village of Seal Rock and Seal Rock State Recreational Site, and its array of structures sometimes referred to as Seal Rocks.

Seal Rock is still Seal Rock by any other name, Shakespeare would've said, and all that really matters are the stunning sights. And they are copious.

Barely a quarter mile of town exists here, but it boasts a massive Oregon coast treasure. Seal Rock began its days as a budding resort town back in the last century, but various failed business deals resulted in this diminutive dot on Highway 101 being surrounded by wondrous, unspoiled natural attractions. Seal Rock State Rec Site is one large chunk of the entire town, with a variety of rock structures, rock-dotted sandy beaches and weird grooves made of basalt (actually geologic oddities and hints of fault lines) to climb around on.

There's one section near the tideline where the basalt rocks form a small channel that creates some fun climbing opportunities at lower tides. It's one of the more famous grooves on the Oregon coast: a fairly large gap in the rocks that funnels the tides in, hidden from general view while walking into the park. Signs say to stay out of it, and that is definitely correct, but you can climb near it, depending on tidal conditions.

The largest rock here is called Elephant Rock, the hulking mass that generally dominates the view. It's riddled with craggy formations that look like dried drippings, as if something had melted on top and slid down the sides and then froze there. That's not far off, as that structure is basalt and that's the way the lava cooled after whatever eruption formed it.

More of its relatives lie scattered about as you walk a bit south, ending up in a mass of tidepools and unique, sometimes head-scratching little structures poking out of the sand. Mostly, you're dealing with bedrock, especially in winter when sand levels get really low, but when summer comes a lot of that stuff disappears and gets covered up.

Winters, however, mean great agate picking on this beach, especially after storms.

Speaking of which – storms are a gem here. During that season when the Oregon coast gets especially testy, parking at the overlooks at the southern section of Seal Rock provides quite the front row seat to all kinds of crazed wave action. They collide with that myriad of sea stacks with frenetic intensity. The oceanic fireworks are wondrous.

If you're looking for a hidden spot around here: a tad north of the entrance to Seal Rock State Recreational Site sits a small path down to the beach. Look for Grebe St. and it's nearby.

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Seal Rock a Blast of Colors, Textures and an Oregon Coast Tidepool Hotspot

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