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Two Mesmerizing Oregon Coast Destinations in One Newport Spot

Published 03/27/21 at 7:25 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Two Mesmerizing Oregon Coast Destinations in One Newport Spot

(Newport, Oregon) – This central Oregon coast hotspot is part touristy, part party town, a dash of upscale resort pleasures and a sometimes surreal bit of Americana. Newport is a wildly varied treasure trove, filled to the brim with natural beauty and historic eye-poppers, as well as modern man-made delights. There are plenty of crowds in some sections, and others with hardly a soul.

It’s that mix of history and natural beauty that often leads the storyline here, especially prominent and intermixed with two major attractions in Newport.

Cobble Beach

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Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. If you can’t find anything to do here, you’re probably dead and no one told you. A gigantic manmade tidepool experiment, hidden rocks and boulders to climb on, a mysterious hill encircling the headland from overhead, a strange, noisy beach made of polished stones and one major lighthouse provide more than you could do in a day.

These days, one of its more popular features is the intertidal area, carved out of an old rock quarry. These wheelchair-accessible paved paths weave in and out of what were briefly rocky tidepool areas that were created to see what happens when rocky shelves are left alone to become colonies of marine life. That did not stick around long after it was started in the ‘90s.

What remains is still engaging. Fossil bits occasionally wash in, and if you know what you’re looking for you could be holding a piece of a living creature millions of years old.

There’s also an interpretive center here, as well as access to the noisy beach via a long staircase (second from top). This one’s a bear coming back up, but it’s worth it. Called Cobble Beach, there are plenty of tidepools here. The large cobblestones make quite a rattling noise when attacked by the tide – which tends to hit here with sizable force because the tideline is at a fairly steep incline.

Not far east of the intertidal area’s parking lot lie some interesting boulder-filled areas, perfect for climbing on and exploring.

Above the lighthouse parking lot lies Salal Hill, which is accessible by a meandering, quarter-mile walk to the top. From there, amazing views of the central Oregon coast burst out (so amazing there’s a web cam planted here). Another awe-inspiring route can be found near the intertidal parking area, which wanders up on a one-mile roundtrip to more magnificent views atop yet another hill.

Yaquina Head Lighthouse. At the end of the headland sits the Yaquina Head Lighthouse, one of two in Newport. Standing at 93 feet, the lighthouse has been around since 1873, with its light still showing the way today and visible for miles in any direction. The lighthouse is open year-round (at least in non-COVID times).

This makes it the tallest lighthouse on the Oregon coast, but Cape Meares, though it’s only 39 feet high, sits on a cliff that’s much higher.

There have been some ghost stories surrounding this one, although in 2000 they were debunked by the Bureau of Land Management – which runs the Yaquina Head area. They found out the purported ghost, a lighthouse keeper named Higgins, never died in the lighthouse at all, as the tale maintained. Instead, he eventually moved to Portland and died of old age there.

The scariest story involving the lighthouse purportedly centers around a Hollywood movie crew filming a horror flick there. Apparently, they left it such a mess – smothered in cobwebs and other spooky fixings – that the BLM had to threaten a lawsuit to get them to come and clean it up.

This may just be a rumor, however. There seems to be no documentation on this.

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