Highlights: Otter Creek Loop, Lighthouse, Cape Foulweather, Whales, Cape Meares, Oceanside, Cape Lookout; Pelican Pub and Brewery (Pacific City).
Campground: Site 33; 35' back-in,Full hookup; CATV;Good Verizon Cellular and ATT LTE. The campground management and workers were among the friendliest and helpful that we've ever seen. On check-in they ask that we fill out an evaluation form to see how they can improve. Extremely rare!
A rare view of me working.
Looks pretty but not much room to set up a chair! we sat in the driveway!
This campground went beyond the norm with hospitality and it never felt forced. They offered a Saturday morning pancake breakfast, a Saturday night social hour with snacks and music (BYOB), and Sunday morning doughnuts. During the week we enjoyed ice cream sundae / root bear float day! I think our most appreciated feature was having a newspaper delivered to our trailer every morning. They also had a clean and purposeful wash room and a half decent exercise room.
The only negative to the campground was being on busy area of Rt 101 at the southern edge of the city. Taking a left out of the campground took a little patience most of the time and it was almost impossible on Sunday afternoon. They advertise being a walk from the beach, which is literally true. The reality is you have to walk on a sidewalk uphill on 101, through the Inn at Spanish Head and Resort's access tunnel under 101, walk back toward and past the campground on the opposite side of the road, then take a side street to a set of 75 stairs. After doing most of the walk except for the stairs, we opted instead to drive a few blocks north to a free 3 car beach level parking lot. Perfect.
Our campground hosts recommended we have late day dinner or drinks at the Inn at Spanish Head for the views. The menu was hotel restaurant, but the views were worth it.
The Inn at Spanish Head and Resort. The restaurant is above the large insignia on the top right.
We managed the best seats in the house in the oceanside corner
A cloudy day didn't bother us. The view south.
There is also good beach access in the center of town with a big parking lot and restrooms. It is adjacent to D River “the shortest river in the world”.
On our first full day we took a drive south from Lincoln City to Newport to see all the turn offs and scenic points we had passed when coming up with the trailer the day before. Every single stop was beautiful and we followed at least one gray whale the whole way. Of note was the fact that I accidentally left my camera in the trailer. Did I enjoy the sights more not so encumbered? I don't think so. I get too much enjoyment snapping away.
First up was Boiler Bay State Scenic Viewpoint just a bit north of Depoe Bay. This is an exceptionally accessible dual entry scenic pull off suitable for trailers. A large grassy area leads to long views up the coast. We took the binoculars out when Sandy noticed a whale watching boat and soon we were watching a gray whale surface 4 times before turning her dorsal fin to the air in a deep dive. Soon three zodiac boat and a larger boat were following the whale – two boats to each side giving her awide berth. We kept watching until she came up in another short series. Without my camera I couldn't take shots of the whale. I had to settle with phone pics.
Boiler Bay State Scenic Viewpoint
The town of Depoe Bay is home to what they claim is the world's smallest harbor. This is a busy little couple blocks of a town with several restaurants. We ate at Tidal Raves Seafood Grill later in the day with a small lunch menu but great views perched high above the Pacific.
Continuing south is the not to be missed Otter Crest Loop, a southbound only scenic drive with several fantastic stops along Cape Foulweather. The Cape was named by Captain James Cook in 1778 and was the first location he named on his voyage to the north Pacific Coast. Winds of 100 mph winds are not uncommon here.
Soon after turning onto the loop and immediately after crossing the scenic Ben Jones Bridge is a very small turn out with parking for maybe 5 cars. Even small waves were causing huge vertical sprays against the rocky cliff.
Ben Jones Bridge
Just a short distance further on the Loop is the Otter Crest Scenic Viewpoint, another must-see on the coast. Twenty+ parking spots lead you to amazing views up and down the coast. This seemed to be the highest point directly above the water we've seen. A plaque said we were at 450 feet, but it felt even higher. A peculiarly located gift shop is run by the national parks service and provides fantastic views to the north from it's perch over the cliffs. From the shop a park volunteer pointed out the gray whale breaching. We went back outside and noticed a small two person zodiac with a photographer perched out on the bow. Over our next few stops we seemed to follow this boat and the whale. This time of year only female and calf gray whales are usually seen. We did not notice a calf.
Looking south towards Yaquina Head
Looking south towards Yaquina Head
Next on the loop is the Devil's Punchbowl. We were thinking ho hum another cutely named rock formation, but this was pretty unique. Looking over the edge just a few feet from the large parking lot is a massive hole in the rock with an arch open to the incoming sea. Very much like, but ten times larger than Thor's Well. As cool as it was, the punchbowl was really a ten minute stop. We spent more time looking out to sea for the whale. Maybe on a higher tide with water storming in it would be more spectacular. It didn't matter. The views down the coast were fantastic. We could easily see Yaquina Head Lighthouse six miles away with sandy beaches along the way.
The day was still early so we continued south leaving the Otter Crest Loop and returning to Route 101 to reach the federally run Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. We hadn't heard that designation before, but can understand it when we got there. A very large parking lot sits before an impressive visitor center with information on the lighthouse, trails, local birds, and sea critters.
In the parking lot a couple bird photographers had their 1200mm lenses focused on a peregrine falcon nest. The male was watching two chicks while the female was getting food. We could see the male easily with binoculars (he blended into the rock without them), but we could not see the chicks. One photographer told us he was waiting and expecting the female to be back soon and then the chicks would be jumping up and down to get her food.
One can park near the Yaquina Head Lighthouse but space is limited, so the Visitor Center recommended walking a 0.3 mile coastal path, which we preferred as it gave nice views along the way. The views here were breathtaking, and the lighthouse was in the prettiest setting of any of the half dozen lighthouses we had seen. Surprising us was the quantity of seabirds on the tall basalt sea stacks. On other sea stacks we had seen hundreds of murres huddled together to the point of walking on each other, but here there were thousands of the little penguin-looking sea divers huddled together.
Yaquina Head Lighthouse
Lots and lots of Common Murres
A path from the lighthouse parking area goes to Cobble Beach with plenty of close up looks at seals and gives the hiker the chance to go tide pooling.
Cobble Beach at Yaquina Head
We had to stop in Depoe Bay after reading about Tidal Raves restaurant in our Moon Guide Book. We went for the views and a decent meal. Within sight of the restaurant was a store selling smoked fish. This looked like a couple guy operation and they sold smoked steelhead and smoked salmon. I got the steelhead which was really fantastic.
Tidal Raves restaurant in Depoe Bay
On another day we visited the coast north of Lincoln City heading up 101 towards Tillamook OR (home to Tillamook cheese) then to route 131 toCape Meares. From there we returned on 131, stopping at the picturesque town of Seasidefor lunch and turning right in Netarts to follow the coast. We passed through the Sand Lake Recreation Area stopping for a fantastic hike at Cape Lookout. Finally we stopped for the view of Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area and a beer at the Pelican Pub and Breweryin Pacific City.
Along the way we passed a pleasant turn off on Rt 101, called Winema Wayfinding Point.
Cape Meares showcases an 1890's lighthouse perched 200 feet above the ocean and views of the largest colony of nesting common murres (per the state park website, though we didn't see as many here as Yaquinca Head), and one of the largest nesting sites on the continent.
Cape Meares Lighthouse
View south from Cape Meares
Seaside. If in this area take the very short side road to this little town and park at the public lot with access to the main street and the beach. We used our guide book recommendation and had a homey lunch with friendly staff at The Blue Agate Cafe.
Town of Oceanside
Blue Agate Cafe - our kind of rustic local eatery with friendly staff.
The beach at Oceanside and view of Maxwell Point
Cape Lookout.This hike took care of our leg stretching needs. A 4.4 miles round trip going down and up and down again to the point with a total gain of 885 feet coming back. The point 500 feet above the water. However after all the effort, we agreed that the early opening views of the south coast were prettier because you are closer to the white sand of the beach better and the deep blue water just off shore. Further out at the point these are still visible but the beach is now 2 ½ miles away.
We thought the early views of the coast from Cape Lookout trail were more beautiful than those at the point, though the point was more dramatic.
Looking south along the Cape Lookout trail
An odd tree along the trail.
The point does give an awesome spectacle for the height above the water and the sheer drop off the sides. At a couple points along the trail you are no more than two feet from a 400 foot drop straight down. One spot in particular I could not look at. I glimpsed at it quickly as I watched my steps. One could easily jump from the trail and hit nothing but water. Watching sea gulls soar hundreds of feet below you was especially eerie. Our Moon guide states that here “more than anywhere else on the Oregon coast, you get the sense of being on the edge of the continent.” Other web sites extol this as the best whale watching spot on the coast.
I kept watching Sandy saying "keep your feet up. Don't trip!"
At the end of Cape Lookout. Two guys taking photos nervously noted that some of those poles are not attached to the earth!
Pelican Pub and Brewery in Pacific City. Our guide book stated this pub had the best view of any brewpub on the coast. We agree and found the outside deck to have the best beach vibe of any dining spot period as it was literally on the beach with views of Cape Kiwanda that seemed accessible from the patio. The beer was very good as was the flatbread. This was one of those places where we were planning a trip back while we were still there. I can't think of a better place to watch the sunset on the Oregon coast.
Beach side dining at the Pelican Pub and Brewery in Pacific City
For a beach day close to Lincoln City we went to Road's End Recreation site at the north end of town and Gleneden beach just a few miles south of Lincoln City and closer to our campground. The truth is it was so windy all week, that there were only a few windows of time where we could sit out. Blowing sand was more of an issue than the cold. Though while some days could be sunny and mid 60's, on the beach we wore multiple layers including hoodies and wind breakers.
Road's End had a nice walk to a headland and a potential hike to God's Thumb – a knife edge of a point at the water's edge.
Gleneden Beach had a large parking lot with few users with spaces for Rvs. Walking to the beach was an interesting sign.
These trees were planted along the walk to the beach after the movie was filmed.
I had seen Sometimes a Great Notion years ago and there is a scene in it that haunted me for ages. Not far from the beach route 229 goes on the north side of the Siletz River. Just a short way down you can see the Sometimes a Great Notion House that was built for the movie and is now a private residence.
People. Talked to an artist at a weekend farmer's market during the 15 mph winds that we've experienced non stop for the last few weeks. She was dressed in layers including a vest, and open-toed shoes. She said that in Oregon the only thing difference between their summer and winter clothes are their shoes!