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10 Essential Oregon Coast Adventures

Published 10/26/22 at 12:24 AM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

10 Essential Oregon Coast Adventures

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In need of a new find on the coastline? Or a first-timer looking for a special experience? There's way too many of those possibilities to fit into one article, as there's 360 miles of this rugged shoreline. Really, you can close your eyes and point to a spot on the map of the coastline and you'll come up with plenty of fun (see the list of virtual tours on this page). However, here's ten ideas for some deep, multi-layered adventures. (Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor, Natural Bridge, courtesy Manuela Durson - see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more)

Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor

With locale names like Secret Beach, Natural Bridge or Lone Ranch Beach, you know you're in for an interesting time. It's 12 miles of Oregon coast all in one tract of highway, and no, you couldn't see it all in one day. A major highlight is the Natural Bridge, really a set of rocky islands with a couple connected by a sizable rocky stretch. By far and away this is one of the most photographed places in the state.

Stately Arch Rock sits a ways offshore from its namesake viewpoint and state park, and Secret Beach provides some scenic thrills with its mix of blobs and soft sand. Close to a dozen other panoramic viewpoints lie along the Boardman State Scenic Corridor, along with large but secluded beach spots like China Creek, Lone Ranch, or Whaleshead.

All of it is a tad north of Brookings.

Between Yachats, Florence

10 Essential Oregon Coast Adventures

Some 20 miles of what you could term hidden spots, many of them a varied mix of sand rocky spots: it's also an incredible drive, should the weather not cooperate with you. Bob Creek, Strawberry Hill and Stonefield Beach offer up a wide variety of landscapes, leaving tons of nooks and crannies to explore. A few hidden caves sit tucked away, such as Neptune Beach. The towering Heceta Head Lighthouse lurks along this area, and a set of soaring ocean viewing spots sit just south of there that are guaranteed to take your breath away. (Photo Oregon Coast Beach Connection: Tokatee Klootchman near Florence)

Shore Acres State Park

A legend along the south Oregon coast, Shore Acres is a must-see if you're anywhere near Coos Bay. Bulbous, patterned cliffs jut out into the ocean, accentuated by colors that explode when the sunset hits them. That's nothing compared to the tidal explosions that rock the place (literally the waves can cause them to rattle beneath you). When higher tidal conditions hit, these waves fire up into the air in the most dramatic means possible, sometimes soaring 200 feet. (Photo courtesy Oregon's Adventure Coast)

Walking Through History at Astoria

Sometimes a mere stroll can be high adventure enough, and that can literally happen with Astoria. The town at the tip of the Oregon coast is the oldest west of the Rockies, and wandering these streets can reveal some intense, elderly sights. Old Victorian mansions, some on the National Historic Registry, dot these steep streets. Downtown hosts the site of the original Fort Astoria, or scale new heights atop Coxcomb Hill, then climb even farther up inside the Astoria Column. (Photo Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

That riverfront walk is loaded with messages from the past with all those old pilings from its tuna cannery days.

The Coast at Night

When the sun goes down, a whole new kind of fun can rise up. Head out to one of the sandy beaches at night (stick to calmer weather, of course) and give your eyes some time adjust. The coast is a whole new world. If the stars are out, you're in for a jaw-dropping show. Even better, spend some time at a major viewpoint like Neahkahnie near Manzanita – that one can, for some reason, yield a surprising number of shooting stars. (Above: Seaside at night)

Find a beach with no light pollution and check for glowing sand. Seeing those bioluminescent things is bound to be a highlight in any trip.

Three Capes Tour

Even as a foul weather drive this 20 miles is amazing, but again, you'll probably need four days if you're going to explore it all. Three big capes, one lighthouse, a strange anomaly of a tree, and a handful of rather secret spots are just the beginning. Tiny Oceanside on its own has enough curiosities to keep you busy for more than a day, such as that rather spooky tunnel, the wilderness-like beach on the other side or even just a neighborhood tour in those cloistered hills. (Above: overlooking Oceanside)

Spring's Surprises

Heading out to the Oregon coast for spring break is obvious, but April and May have some enormously attractive qualities people still don't know about. Orcas like to pop in around April. That month can also bring some wondrous mood swings that create particular conditions which likely make it the best time of year to photograph. Sunset colors are remarkably different and vibrant forms of pastels that only happen in March through maybe early June. Then there's the significantly empty beaches at this time and cheaper lodgings. (Above: spring's pastels at Arch Cape)

Hiking The Tallest Peaks

Ready for true adventure? Neahkahnie Mountain soars some 1600 feet above it all, and then drops a bombshell view on you at the top. On the south Oregon coast, Humbug Mountain challenges you with 5.5 miles roundtrip to its 1700-foot peak. Cape Perpetua near Yachats is a little easier and you're rewarded with that captivating stone shelter at the top. (Above: near the top of Neahkahnie, photo courtesy Seaside Aquarium's Tiffany Boothe)

Storm Watch Season


This will be obvious to many Oregon coast regulars, but if you're from out of state this is a season you have to try. Stick to rocky areas, like Yachats, Depoe Bay, parts of Port Orford, Cape Blanco or Bandon, where you can be a ways back and just watch things explode.

Ghost Forest Hunting

There's way more to Oregon coast ghost forests than the 1900-year-old stumps at Neskowin. Mostly, these come out in winter, and they're a harbinger of great agate-combing as well. There's a few around 1,000 years old at Sunset Bay near Coos Bay visible much of the year, and some closing in on 80,000 years old at Netarts. Sand levels and storm season's scouring determine whether you'll see most or not, such as at Newport, Seal Rock or Arch Cape. But it's well worth your time to look in December through February, if storms have been really active. See in search of more Ghost Forests. (Above: 4,000-year-old stumps at Seal Rock)

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