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ABOUT THE OREGON COAST
The Oregon Coast is a 350-mile feast of things to do and see, from museums and lighthouses to trails and dunes. Starting at the northernmost point, the City of
Astoria is situated on the Oregon shore of the Columbia River. From the waterfront, you may visit the Columbia River Maritime Museum, which features a lightship or cross the 4-mile-long Astoria-Megler Bridge to Washington. Also worth a visit is the 125-foot Astoria Column, painted with scenes of Astoria's history. Travel seven miles south to see the log stockade where Lewis and Clark spent the long, rainy winter of 1805-06 at Fort Clatsop, now a
national memorial. Nearby Fort Stevens, a state park complete with a shipwreck, bunkers and a military museum, guarded the mouth of the Columbia from the Civil War until the end of WW II. Between the resort town of
Seaside and the smaller, more upscale boutiques of
Cannon Beach is Tillamook Head with
Ecola State Park at its crest, offering picnic spots, viewpoints and trails. At the midpoint of Cannon Beach sits Haystack
Rock, one of the largest monoliths in the world. The marine life in the tidepools at the base of the Rock is protected, but the Haystack Rock Awareness Program gives classes at the Rock to enhance your enjoyment and keep all the critters safe. South of Cannon Beach, Oswald West State Park has 12 miles of the ever-beautiful Oregon Coast Trail, Neahkahnie Mountain and a hike-in campground. You can also enjoy the small town of
Manzanita, which offers a beach that is anything but small. Go south until you reach
Tillamook and visit the two cheese factories that this dairyland is famous for. For a change of pace, check out the largest single-span wooden building in the world, a WW II blimp hangar that doubles as an aircraft museum. Once again driving south, leave Highway 101 and take the Three Capes Scenic Loop for a look at picturesque Cape Meares, Cape Lookout and Cape Kiwanda.
Finishing off the Northern Coast is Lincoln City, one of the most well known cities with an amazing inventory of hotels and vacation rentals. From time to time you may even see an ESPN crew out filming a special section of the beach that is home to some serious waves for surfers!
Depoe Bay, the beginning of the central coast, has the world's smallest harbor and a waterspout that sprays seawater over Highway 101 at high tide. Two great picnic spots in the area are Fogarty Creek State Park and Devil's Punchbowl State Park. Next is
Newport, noticeable for its many oceanfront hotel rooms, but famous for the Oregon Coast Aquarium and the Hatfield Marine Science Center. Visit the
Yaquina Bay Lighthouse (it used to be haunted) and then continue on to
Waldport to the Alsea Bay Bridge Interpretive Center which recalls the history of Oregon's scenic coastal bridges. A bit farther south, Cape Perpetua Visitor Center offers exhibits, a free movie and short trails to tidepools and an old-growth forest.
Heceta Head Lighthouse is nearby. Now, you have reached the Dunes! Florence's Old Town showcases dozens of boutiques and antique shops, but three miles south of town is the state's most popular campground, Honeyman State Park. Very close to
Florence is Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area encompassing 36 miles of seafront with 400-foot dunes, lakes, birdwatching marshes, campgrounds, trails and secluded beaches.
The South Coast is different once again: tugs, yachts and ocean freighters dock at the deepwater port of
Coos Bay. Near the mouth of the Bay are three great state parks: Shore acres with formal gardens, rocks and huge waves; Sunset Bay with a campground, good tidepools for exploring marine life and a swimming beach; and
Cape Arago, perfect for seal watching. Just south of town is the South Slough Estuarine Reserve. Visit the charming town of
Bandon and travel on to the scenic harbor at
Port Orford. Every afternoon a crane hoists the entire fishing fleet onto a dock for overnight storage! Follow the Rogue River here, from mild-mannered pools to boiling rapids. White water trips abound, or stay dry and backpack the Rogue River Trail. Samuel Boardman State Park has a spectacular 10-mile coastline with views for days and Loeb State Park has trails where you will see some of the state's largest myrtlewood and redwood groves. Everywhere you go on the coast you will find Visitor's Centers, Chambers of Commerce and Information Kiosks to point out all unique aspects of the area. Enjoy the Oregon Coast - from top to bottom!
By Valerie Ryan