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As a Stormwatch Brews, Part Two of Oregon Coast Viewing Hotspots

Published 11/09/23 a 6:05 a.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

(Oregon Coast) – Essentially nothing in this state is anything like a good Oregon coast storm. A dash of heavy winds and copious helpings of insane wave action – not necessarily under gray skies, either – and you have a recipe for one hell of an experience. (Above: Yachats. All photos Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

Just like part one of this series said: it's like a Jerry Springer Show for the ocean. When a Stormwatch Brews: Vantage Points to View the Gnarly Oregon Coast (Part 1)

Part two of this piece on great stormwatching spots look at Yachats, Cape Meares and some areas just south of Cannon Beach, as well as some safety warnings.

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Cape Meares. Just west of Tillamook, this is likely one of the safest spots to catch the action on the Oregon coast, as you're some 200 feet above it all. What you'll see are enormous waves crashing into rocky headlands around you. Often, these winter storms mean you'll even see awe-inspiring waves approaching, appearing so enormous it looks as if they might even get you where you stand up here. Cape Meares Octopus Tree Complete Guide

Yachats. Really, there's not a bad view in the house here, and it doesn't take much for waves to go nutso. Aside from the small bay, the entire shoreline is made of large, craggy basalt structures, which makes for massive wave action the whole year round.

Yet it's storm season when this stretch gets downright hair-raising. Make sure you stay above the bluffs, and in larger events not even the paved path of the 804 Trail is safe. Big storms can toss major logs onto the area, and some winters turn the entire shoreline into something that looks like a devastated forest.

The road behind downtown Yachats runs along the shore, starting at the Recreation Area. The road meanders almost a mile, through residential neighborhoods, and provides remarkable views of the walloping waves. There are even some benches along here.

Also providing great views is the Devil's Churn, a few miles south of town. Along the way, there are lots of spots to watch the Pacific go crazy. But once you reach the Churn, you'll find a long crevice stretching a few hundred feet, which squeezes the ocean's mighty energy into some fierce explosions. [Devil's Churn, Foamy Waves, Yachats]

South of Cannon Beach. Amazing viewpoints abound along the 10-mile stretch between Cannon Beach and Manzanita, providing many opportunities to catch the oceanic drama while remaining safe, far away from the waves themselves. Those pullouts just south of Cannon Beach are some of the most popular, and the views are dramatic non-stop.

A few more miles down the road, between Oswald West State Park and Manzanita, you'll come to the gravel viewpoint and trailhead above Short Sands Beach (Smuggler's Cove) and the viewpoints beneath Neahkahnie Mountain. The world seems like it's opened up here, with the Pacific exploding in front of you and stretching as far as the eye can see. The turnouts are abundant on this chunk of north Oregon coast, with all sorts of interesting rocky cliff faces hovering over you from the landward side of the highway. Viewpoints Above Manzanita

The biggest pullout provides views towards the north and south - allowing you to watch waves slam into Cape Falcon to the north and attack the shores of Manzanita to the south.


With king tides coming up soon, this is evermore important.

It seems like every year someone does something just shy of common sense and gets hurt during a winter storm. Always stay away from small beaches when the storms are doing their thing. Some sandy spots, like Seaside, are broad enough to go walking on, and they can give you room to stay away from the breakers. One rule of thumb for exploring even large beaches in this weather: you need to have a good 50 feet between you and the highest wave. Otherwise, don't go near the beach and stay up high.

Whatever you do, if officials have closed off an area because of high waves, don't go beyond it. In the early 2000s, a group of stormwatchers ignored such signs near Garibaldi, and found themselves swimming in a sneaker wave - along with their vehicles. One woman was seriously injured.

Worse yet, others have died:

Astounding Video of Massive Waves; Child Missing in Surf on Oregon Coast

Updated: Two Youths Rescued from Seaside's Surf, N. Oregon Coast; One Dead

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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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