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Wild U.S. Travel: 3 Wonder-Crammed Oregon Coast Stretches You Should Know (But May Not)

Published 3/03/24 at 5:35 a.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

(Oregon Coast) – At the dramatic, western edge of the continent, where the Pacific Ocean smacks into the sands of the Beaver State, it's what is known as the enchanting, rough 'n crazed Oregon coast. 362 miles of zigzagging shoreline that are often in a chaotic mood. (Above: Tillicum Beach near Yachats in a calming vibe - all photos Oregon Coast Beach Connection unless otherwise stated)

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There's lots that's well known here and even legendary, but those from international places afar and travelers from other parts of the United States should be aware of three unusually intense but off-the-beaten path little destinations. One sits near Yachats, the other several miles south of Coos Bay, and the other about an hour and a half drive from Portland.

Tillicum Beach and Campround, Yachats

Almost exactly halfway between Waldport and Yachats, you'll find this funky little Forest Service campground that's been a longtime fave of those Oregon coast regulars in-the-know. It's quite the well-kept gem, offering up around nine miles of sand in either direction. Hiking one way will get you to the northern edges of Yachats; the northern route brings you to Alsea Bay.

In the midst of it all, there's a cliff of golden yellow wonders, with interesting nooks 'n crannies dug in by erosion that make great spots to hide from the wind.

There's dozens of campsites, full amenities, RV spots and so much soft, sandy beach you won't know what to do with it all. Reserve camping

There are some interesting secret beach accesses about a mile south of here. About MP 161 (approximately a mile south of Tillicum) you'll find streets named after states. Look for Oregon St., turn west and you'll find a hidden beach access in between some homes. It's still fluffy sand in this area.

Take care when parking as not to disturb the residents.

Another one lies close by, just a mile south. Around MP 162 - just kitty-corner from Brubacker St. - there's a patch of gravel on the west side of 101 and a small wooded trail wandering off to the beach. Here, it's a little less than a mile to the basalt-covered world of Yachats' beaches. But near this clandestine beach access, you'll also find some large, colorful boulders and a little hidden cove in the cliffs. Hotels in Yachats - Where to eat - Yachats Maps and Virtual Tours

There's some exceptional Oregon coast history as well: the tale of Tillie the Whale Skeleton. Oregon Coast's Tillie the Whale History a Kooky and Dramatic One

Cape Arago State Park, Near Coos Bay

Courtesy Oregon's Adventure Coast

Really a sort of climax to the whole Cape Arago Highway just south of Coos Bay, the state park is very much the end of the road. However, this little spot and its looping road are crammed full of scenic wowers and surprises.

The road with parking spots wanders through rather sometimes dense forest and plenty of green grassy areas, accentuated by various openings where the ocean just pops out at you. It's lush and downright primeval at times. Picnic tables abound as well. Take the South Cove trail to amble around a rather dramatic beach often full of tidepools, or head to Drake Point (named for Sir Francis Drake who documented his passing by in the 1500s). The North Cove Trail brings you out onto more wild beach stretches and some excellent viewing of seals and sea lions.

Courtesy Oregon's Adventure Coast

The peak of it all is that stone lookout area, which provides even more atmosphere on top of the stunning views. It gazes down at more rocky bluffs and barking, carousing wildlife. There's some wowing history near here Radar Bunker at Coos Bay's Cape Arago: Living S. Oregon Coast History

Oceanside's Maxwell Point

What is one of the more magical beaches on all of Oregon's coast is part of a tiny town that's like one big hidden secret, all sitting just west of Tillamook.

There's but a handful of businesses in Oceanside: an espresso shop, two restaurants, and a smattering of motels and rentals. Most of the buildings are nestled up on the steep hill overlooking the ocean, looking a bit like Astoria or a primitive San Francisco.

This pristine beach features miles of sand to the south, until you hit one end of Netarts Bay. Capping the northern end of town is the imposing Maxwell Point and the Three Arch Rocks just offshore. But that's not the end of Oceanside. Indeed, there's a tunnel built here in the early part of the century which still survives, letting you visit the other side. This secretive strand contains a myriad of surprises, like coves, caves and giant rocky slabs and small sea stacks in odd shapes.

At the very northern end of this curious pocket beach sits Lost Boy Cave, named for a true hidden spot on the other side, which is only accessible under very rare circumstances. Hotels in Oceanside - Where to eat - Oceanside 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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