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Two Extraordinary Scenic Drives Along a Wild Stretch of Oregon Coast

Published 11/08/22 at 2:49 PM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Two Extraordinary Scenic Drives Along a Wild Stretch of Oregon Coast

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(Yachats, Oregon) – There are moments on this shoreline when you're forced to go by car. (Above: near Florence, Roosevelt Beach. Photo Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

Sometimes (some may say more often than that), the weather just does not cooperate on a trip to the Oregon coast. But even if it is in a really good, sunny mood and disposition, you may want to see a large swath of it in one sitting. A nice drive will fit this bill nicely.

On the central Oregon coast, near the very center of the state's beaches, two wild and rugged possibilities lie next to each other. Some of the best views and drives are nestled cozily along the water's edge between Florence and Yachats. These provide some of the most intense scenery from the comfort zone of your rig.


Cape Perpetua Auto Tour. Whether it's rain or shine, the area around Cape Perpetua is a consistent wow-inducer. Just south of Yachats, a few hundred feet south of the Devil's Churn parking lot, you'll find the entrance. The sign is clearly marked here: take the road on the east side of the highway to get to the Interpretive Center, to go to the top of Cape Perpetua and its trails or to take the 19-mile, 45-minute tour around the mountain and back to Yachats.

Stay straight, and you soon have the choice of taking the big Auto Tour and scenic route, or wind your way up the small mountain to the top. You'll meander through a thick rainforest before ending up back in Yachats.


The tiny, twisting ride to the top provides an enormous reward, however. Here, you've risen 803 feet above the sea and the panoramic view is awe-inspiring - augmented by an atmospheric stone wall encircling the viewpoint.

It's a longtime favorite with many, who often don't miss it if they're in the area.

South of Yachats. It's the kind of drive that could be your last: it's so tempting to keep looking out the window that it needs a lot of discipline to keep your eyes on the road.

Many visitors never tire of this one, partially because there's so much to see.


It also may come as a revelation to many that many travel scenes from show Bates Motel were filmed here. The edgy show was set in a mythical Oregon coast town, showing the evolution of Norman Bates into the character from the original Psycho film. Luckily, no one is lurking around any of these scenic bends with a big knife.

Looking at old episodes, it's a kick to occasionally spot some of these grand vistas. According to an Oregon Coast Beach Connection reader, showrunners used local talent from Oregon to film these brief cuts.


Bob Creek Wayside

This mere 25-mile stretch between Florence and Yachats is filled with numerous tight curves atop high cliffs which create a never-ending cavalcade of amazing ocean views. If the weather is rough, there's plenty to see along this route. And if it's anything but rough, it's among the most pristine and uncrowded sections of all the Oregon coast.

First up, south of Yachats, you begin the climb towards Cape Perpetua and the Devil's Churn, as blackened basalt shelves meander between you and the sea in various, unidentifiable shapes. For the next 20 miles or so, the road rises and falls, interspersed with rocky landscapes and sandy beaches dotted with boulders and basalt structures.


Strawberry Hill

Some have bluffs and some are fairly flat, but all are rather bereft of human presence. At Strawberry Hill, climb out over a large headland with steps embedded in the rocks and sand, and wander down to a sandy stretch of various colors and textures, where boulders and formations create a kind of labyrinth. Tide pools reign supreme here.

There's the cobblestone surrealism of Bob Creek Wayside, where at low tide, weird mushroom-like rocks emerge that are covered with crusty marine life and starfish. At Rock Creek Campground and Roosevelt Beach, there's sand and small sea stacks, with a patch of basalt that cradles an idyllic, babbling brook. A bit south of there, spots like Muriel O. Ponsler Wayside are all sand, and it's about where the landscape flattens out to seemingly endless beaches.

Just north of Florence, you'll hit the incredible views near Heceta Head Lighthouse and Sea Lion Caves, where a myriad of pullouts allow you to gaze in awe at the wildlife covered cliffs and dramatic waves slamming into bulging structures at the bottom.

It's not only a drive you'll fall in love with, but one you'll likely get addicted to.

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