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Soaring Moments from an Oregon Coast Landmark: On Top of and Around Cape Kiwanda

Published 06/15/23 at 7:31 a.m.
B
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Striking Scenes from an Oregon Coast Landmark: On Top of and Around Cape Kiwanda

(Pacific City, Oregon) – It's the kind of place that never ceases to surprise, wherever you are around this magnificent monolith and its accompanying headland. Even whenever: you could come to this part of the north Oregon coast 100 times and find something new every visit. (All photos Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

This is what Cape Kiwanda, at Pacific City provides, with its soaring dune, rugged and ragged sandstone labyrinth-like structures to climb around on, and even the surrounding beaches at times. There's so much more to Kiwanda than the Haystack Rock (not to be confused with the other Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach – yes they both share the name). It can be a surprise a minute.


Bounce around on top for just a tiny bit and you'll come to one astounding viewpoint after another, sometimes lurking within various large openings. These giant chasms abound with startling regularity. To throw more spice into the sights, the sandstone cliffs can really catch the sunlight in wowing ways. Also see Complete Guide: Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area

Down below, on the beach, catch Haystack Rock in one of its mistier moods and you have the quite photogenic model. Though this one is some millions and millions of years old, possibly part of various lava flows that came through here and literally plunged downward into softer sediment, to re-erupt into stand-alone structures like this (which eventually eroded into sea stacks). Or it was part of a much larger structure that included Cape Lookout. No one's positive yet.

Check out Cape Kiwanda during a massive storm and you may see waves so large they fire up high enough to be seen on the other side of the cape. But even smaller storm wave crashes – like this one – are impressive enough.


In summer, sometimes the sand levels of Pacific City get so high they create these unusual patterns in the sand.

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Some of the most stunning scenery on the entire coast sits in one relatively tiny spot: right at the tip of Cape Kiwanda. There you'll find a jaw-dropping oceanic canyon, sort of hidden below the cliffs of the gargantuan cape and mostly accessible by a mile or so walk from the beach access to the north of Kiwanda. The ocean swirls around in here in a frightening display of tidal madness, smashing against the confines of these towering, slightly otherworldly structures. If conditions are right, you can actually stand at a spot where they stop and watch them – although this is extremely rare.

Mostly, you have to approach this area with great caution and stay on the sandy cove, at least 50 feet away.

In either case, it's a mind-blowing highlight to a place already filled with nearly reality-bending sights.


Pacific City is about a 20-minute drive from Lincoln City, or 20 minutes from Oceanside to the north – along the Three Capes Loop. Hotels in Pacific City - Where to eat - Pacific City Maps and Virtual Tours


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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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