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When Rockaway Beach Falls Off the Edge of the Oregon Coast's Seasons

Published 6/05/24 at 12:05 a.m.
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection

(Rockaway Beach, Oregon) – Everywhere up and down the shorelines of Oregon, as summer ends it really kind of just begins for the beaches. Summers along the Oregon coast can be so-so, but ironically it's in September and early October when really warm weather often starts. They call it “second summer” out here, but some locals refer to it as the first time summer makes its appearance. (All photos Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

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In Seaside:
Includes exclusive listings; some specials in winter
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Includes rentals not listed anywhere else
In Manzanita, Wheeler, Rockaway Beach:
Some specials for winter
In Pacific City, Oceanside:
Some specials for winter
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Some specials for winter
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Look for some specials
In Waldport
Some specials for winter
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Some specials for winter
Southern Oregon Coast Hotels / Lodgings
Reedsport to Brookings, places to stay; winter deals

Yet when that starts to move over again to fall or wintry weather, it can be like a light switch. In some places, the drift from second summer to fall can signal itself with some interesting changes. Like Rockaway Beach, for example: one day in mid October it's lovely and warm, and then sometimes by dusk it starts to turn a corner.

This is when Rockaway Beach can be at its most engaging. You could say there are weather adventures to be had here. Like in the shot above, where Rockaway Beach is warm and cozy one day and the following day a winter-like storm kicks in. Waves get busy, and yet in spite of these crazy conditions less than a half mile from the curve of the sands, the winds are not manic.

Nothing like being in the midst of a winter storm without it feeling like winter. Then there are the other changes the town goes through. Get ready for a few insider tips.

About 20 minutes south of Manzanita, 35 minutes south of Cannon Beach and about ten minutes north of Tillamook, Rockaway Beach sits spread out over seven miles of exquisite and pristine sands.

On one particular night, as darkness began to fall, other visual treats of Rockaway Beach come to light. One of the streams cutting through the dunes reflects an ethereal bluish sky. These streams and little rivers can become quite mighty during stormier conditions, and you see the way they ravage the ground around them by the gigantic logs tossed up here. That takes a lot of waves. The ocean quite literally keeps those railroad tracks on its toes (they sometimes get quite smacked in winter).

Another example of Rockaway Beach during one of those early fall storms – taken from the main access in the middle of town. And yes, you could smell the beach bonfires all around. Further proof this little north Oregon coast town is visually delicious no matter the weather.

The really trippy thing is with those higher sand levels of summer, sometimes you can get just a little closer to Twin Rocks – like a couple hundred feet or so. Head down to Minnehaha St. at the southern end and that's where Twin Rocks sits. From that vantage point, Twin Rocks seems much closer than you've ever seen it. It also hosts a weird geographic / geographic surprise. Rockaway Beach Geologic Surprise

Over to the jetties, at the very northern end of Rockaway Beach – the area known as Nedonna Beach. This borders the southern jetty of the Nehalem Bay. It's here where you can watch the town light up just after dark as it casts quite the purple glow across the sea and landscape.

Insider tip: blue hour on the coast can get incredibly ethereal, even when it's foggy. Indeed, fog helps. If conditions are right, it takes the last rays of sunlight and creates wild shades like this one. Or maybe you'll find an wowing pink in the fog of dusk.

This area is where those effects of sand levels became especially apparent. In summer, sand levels rise and they stay there until storms start eating them away. Normally, the jetty looks like this – as above. The tides come quite a ways in, sometimes dangerously so.

However, even in early October – as seen here – sand levels stayed so high they kept the tide away this deep into the fall season. This scene shows a kind of low tide situation: what appears to be an extreme low tide. But it's not. It's simply the sand keeping the water much farther out.

Many of the best sights don't always happen during the day but after dark. Lake Lytle is pictured here, with newish dock built about ten years ago. A fog hovering in the area caught and reflected various light sources and created this otherworldly moment.

A similar alien scene happened while photographing the famed Twin Rocks at night in the middle of September, a few weeks before most of these shots were taken. The landscape truly looks like another world after dark.

Rockaway Beach, like the rest of the Oregon coast, will officially enter the fall season at some point, so you'll start to notice erosion soon. Snap your summer photos, then back in winter after a few storms and you'll see a difference. Your favorite beach will have changed width or configuration.

Another insider's tip: there's a secret shipwreck here, only visible every few years in winter. When a Mysterious Shipwreck Popped Up Out of Nowhere: Oregon Coast History

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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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When Rockaway Beach Falls Off the Edge of the Oregon Coast's Seasons
Get ready for some insider tips on weather, changing sands

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