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Wild, Wowing Winter Drives on Oregon Coast

Published 10/26/20 at 11:34 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Wild, Wowing Winter Drives on Oregon Coast

Latest Coastal Lodging News Alerts
In Seaside:
Includes exclusive listings; some specials in winter
In Cannon Beach:
Includes rentals not listed anywhere else
In Manzanita, Wheeler, Rockaway Beach:
Some specials for winter
In Pacific City, Oceanside:
Some specials for winter
In Lincoln City:
Some specials for winter
In Depoe Bay, Gleneden Beach:
Some specials for winter
In Newport:
Look for some specials
In Waldport
Some specials for winter
In Yachats, Florence
Some specials for winter

(Oregon Coast) - When winter rolls around, as it's about to do, the Oregon coast takes on a truly rugged character. Incredible winds, massive storm-fueled waves and torrential downpours come and go, interspersed with bouts of sun and gorgeous sunsets - or these storms may stay around for days on end. It's a wild place, filled with rousing sights. (Above: north of Manzanita)

In many instances, remaining in your car will seem the best option. Perhaps you should take a scenic drive: you're sure to find something to make your eyes pop out.

Manzanita to Oswald West. It’s a short stretch of Oregon coast but jam-packed with action. The road twists and turns along precarious cliff edges, beneath which the Pacific roars and slams into ancient rock formations with ferocity year-round. Several viewpoints sit along the way, beneath the looming presence of Neahkahnie Mountain, allowing you to park and ogle the seemingly endless expanse of ocean.

Manzanita and Cube Rock

Not far from the entrance to Oswald, the road gives way to glimpses of Short Sand Beach. In winter, these waves can be gargantuan and frightening as they crash and tumble into the crescent-shaped area, an imposing sight even from about a mile away.

Continue north, out of Oswald, and you'll emerge from the forests of the park and encounter more high vantage points as the highway twists and turns on its way to Cannon Beach. En route, you'll see the sweeping vistas and craggy cliffs just south of the Arch Cape Tunnel and a host of sea stacks just offshore.

The whole eight-mile stretch between Manzanita and Cannon Beach is filled with numerous wonders that can be enjoyed from above. Hotels in Manzanita, Wheeler - Where to eat - Manzanita, Wheeler Maps and Virtual Tours

Otter Crest Loop. South of Depoe Bay, the road suddenly begins an abrupt ascent up a steep hill as you zoom along towards Cape Foulweather. If you blink you’ll miss the good stuff. Right at the beginning of that rise sits a hidden road that darts off to the west of Highway 101 then running beneath it. This is Otter Crest Loop Road, which lets you get close the jagged cliffs that are largely unseen from 101, a front row seat to the drama of the breakers that slam them.

There's even a bike route along this stretch of road. But it's a one-way-only road, heading south towards the parking lot at Cape Foulweather.

Along the way, you can find secret pathways to those surprise-filled cliffs. One trail wanders down a steep hill, briefly into a dark forest area, before it emerges out onto a stunning landscape where wild waves attack almost constantly. Hotels in Depoe Bay - Where to eat - Depoe Bay Maps and Virtual Tours

From Port Orford to Humbug Mountain: Redfish Rocks Marine Reserve. A few miles outstanding cliffs that skirt and wriggle along the meandering shoreline, with a handful of pullouts. At Retz Creek a somewhat hidden beach access sits, letting you down onto the oft-rubbly stretch that gets wider and less dangerous in spring. There, a cluster of rocky blobs in various and curious shapes add more visual excitement to the already-engaging beach, with a couple looking like miniature versions of Cannon Beach’s Haystack Rock, as if Spinal Tap had a say in how they were constructed.

Near Coal Point the pullouts become many and there’s lots of room to check out rambling waves and chaotic storm action from the safety and warmth of your rig. Southern Coast

Tierra Del Mar to Pacific City. Along the Three Capes Tour, just west of Tillamook, the highway winds around tight bends, through forests and in and out of incredible viewpoints. Just south of Sand Lake Road and the community of Sand Lake, you emerge from the farmlands and forests and hit one of the last untouched coastal areas: Tierra Del Mar. Currently, it's primarily a collection of sleepy neighborhoods. But plans for a major golf course in the area will likely make it a tourism force to deal with in coming years.

As the trees give way to ocean views, the long, sandy stretches of this tiny town appear. You can drive on parts of this beach, all the way to Cape Kiwanda State Park, a few miles south. Haystack Rock is usually visible from here.

The hill ascends again, and the beach mostly disappears behind a thick canopy of trees. Soon, you pop out at Pacific City, about where Pelican Pub sits, encountering the grandiose sandstone marvel known as Cape Kiwanda, and its companion, the sulking Haystack Rock.

Continue south, onto Highway 101, and more incredible ocean horizons await you as you drive toward Neskowin. Hotels in Pacific City - Where to eat - Pacific City Maps and Virtual Tours

Oregon Coast Hotels in this area - Where to eat - Maps - Virtual Tours

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