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Three Different Rocks With One Name on Oregon Coast: Bandon, Pacific City, Cannon Beach

Published 06/23/2020 at 3:44 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Three Different Rocks With One Name on Oregon Coast: Bandon, Pacific City, Cannon Beach

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(Pacific City, Oregon) – One point of confusion on the Oregon coast is that some will point to Cannon Beach and its famed Haystack Rock, while others tout the taller Haystack Rock at Pacific City. There can't be two with the same name, can there? Some on the internet even shout in all caps, “what the hell is going on?” (Above: Cannon Beach).

The truth is there are actually three Haystack Rocks on these shores. The first two are the most famous, the subject of many selfies these days and bundles of Instagram moments. But a third sits unnoticed by many down in Bandon on the south coast.

None of them have any resemblance to an actual haystack, really – except maybe Bandon.


Courtesy Google Maps

In that southern city by the sea, the Haystack Rock there lies about a mile from Face Rock and its famed beach, a bit of a hike south of there. That one is more of an indistinct lump shape, and actually if you stare at it enough it begins to look a bit like an elephant more than half submerged. It’s not even quite 100 feet high. Geology of Pacific City's Haystack Rock


Up north, Pacific City’s Haystack Rock sits farther out to sea, almost a mile away. Its original name was Chief Kiawanda, given by the original inhabitants here and a name you’ll find on some other spots around Pacific City on occasion. These days, some locals have simply bypassed the state’s official designation and have begun calling it “Kiawanda,” even if it only winds up a nickname in passing or mention on social media.

Fun fact about ol’ Kiawanda: he’s 340 feet high. Another odd fact: if it wasn’t for Kiawanda, Cape Kiwanda’s soft sandstone would’ve eroded away much further than it has. It’s entirely possible it would be gone. This ancient structure shields the cape from some of the wave activity.

Haystack in Pacific City – like its brothers – is made of basalt, what was once lava from some scary fissure or volcano. Scientists aren’t sure about this Haystack Rock as not much testing has been done on its age or makeup. However, it’s believed it was part of a lava flow that filled up a canyon somewhere over 16 million years ago, and then the rest of the canyon eroded away leaving this blob. Hotels in Pacific City - Where to eat - Pacific City Maps and Virtual Tours


Cannon Beach’s Haystack Rock is 235 feet high – yup, it’s a shorty compared to Pacific City. While both are wildlife refuges, Pacific City’s rock only has to worry about boats coming close. Oregon maritime rules state you must stay clear from it.

In Cannon Beach, there are nesting birds atop the rock and you’re not allowed to go tromping around the base of it. In fact, that’s the reason there are no Fourth of July fireworks in town. It’s worth it, as many of the protected birds are those adorable puffins.

The north Oregon coast landmark – possibly the most photographed piece of the state – is an especially weird geologic story. It came from a kind of double eruption, where one massive lava flow was so powerful it plunged into the ground somewhere else and re-erupted here. That happened about 16 – 18 million years ago. It doesn’t look a day over 2 million years, does it?

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