Over the years, we are frequently returning to the stunning Oregon coast for vacations. And we always have a great time and a lot of fun adventures. Though Southern Coast is closer to us, the northern part became our favorite recently. So here’s my list of the most epic places.
Ecola State Park
This park opens the list and thought it’s because the list was built from North to South, but by coincidence also by its scenic beauty. The park overlooks offshore Tillamook lighthouse and the rocky coastline of Canon Beach. Because of the views, the place is very popular.
I don’t think I need to write a lot here. The place is all over the Internet. And most of the time very busy. If you visit during non-foggy, stay for sunset, and don’t live up till late. The starry skies here are awe-inspiring.
Check out this post if you want to read more about how we visited the town during the Spring break a few years ago.
Okay, this one is a must-do stop on the coast during the low tide. During that time you can walk to the northern part of the beach with these fantastic cliffs with caverns and a waterfall. You may not get very impressive falls late in the season, but the place is amazing to explore.
You perhaps saw these black Icelandic-looking cliffs showered with bluish Pacific waves. They could be found at the south end of Oswald West State Park. The Elk Flats trailhead leads to several scenic viewpoints. Please don’t cross the fence to get photos; cliffs could be unstable and unsafe. Also, the trails to the vistas could be muddy or slippery. Better wear good hiking shoes when exploring the area.
Check also while in the area
- Short Sands Trail at Oswald West State Park is an excellent short trail to explore. It leads to this lovely secluded beach.
- Wheeler Station Antiques is a huge antique mall in the nearby town of Wheeler that is full of many treasures. Wheeler itself is a stunning town to explore.
If you’re trying to find a less crowded place as the base for your exploration, try Rockaway beach. It’s right in the middle on the Northern Oregon coast, so you would be a short driving distance to most epic places. Also, it has this lovely long sandy beach with a view of Twin Rocks offshore.
- Oregon Coast Scenic Train excursions. A short trip on a historic train between Rockaway Beach and Garibaldi that runs during the summer till the end of September. In October, they had an hour-long Fall Splendor Excursion. Check their site for more details
The Three Graces
Honestly, I don’t know why this place is still so out of everyone’s radar. We’ve stopped here several times, and each time we had a great time. On the higher tides and clear days, you can get nice reflections. On a low tide, stop for exploring rock formations closer.
And now, let’s talk about our all-time favorite. Right on the north end of Pacific City, there’s Cape Kiwanda, and its a sandy bluff. I suggest spending at least a half-day exploring from all sides. The south side has a dune and trails that eventually lead you to this stunning view of the arch in the rock. The northern part has a long beach, McPhillips Beach, where you could drive (if you have high clearance 4×4). The beach ends with a rocky outcrop. Beware of the waves when exploring there.
Neskowin Ghost Forest
Again a great place to stop on a lowering tide. The beach of Neskowin has remains of ancient Sitka spruce forest destroyed in earthquake or tsunami and were unearthed around 15 years ago by the violent storm. The beach is also the home of Proposal Rock. So, yeah, a lot of legends for a small beach town.
Drift Creek Falls
Not actually a part of the northern coast, more central. But you better visit this park before it becomes way too popular. The 75-foot waterfall, suspension bridge 100 feet above the canyon floor, and the trail that leads almost to the base of the falls are three things that make this place a must. Check the National Forest page on road and trail conditions before the visit.
Links and Info
- Before visiting any of the mentioned here beaches, don’t forget to check the tides table. Don’t visit during the hide tide, and know when the tide is expected to change.
- Check the Oregon State Parks page for parks closures and other info. If you plan to visit multiple state parks or beaches during your trip, it could be helpful to buy their 12 or 24 months parking permits here
- Map with all locations from this post: