Weekend Road Trip Along the Oregon Coast


HIGHLIGHTS

01  AGATE BEACH
02 REDWOOD NATIONAL PARK

03 OPHIR BEACH
04 HECETA HEAD LIGHTHOUSE

05 CAPE PERPETUA
06 YAQUINA HEAD AREA

07 CANNON BEACH
08 ECOLA STATE PARK


Taking a long weekend to drive and explore along the Oregon coast has always been something that I’ve wanted to do. So at the end of May this year, I planned a 4 day trip starting from my hometown of Seattle, Washington all the way down to Patrick’s Point State Park in California. From there my boyfriend, Lenny, and I would drive back up along Highway 101 and explore along the coast of Oregon. Here are some of my favorite places that I discovered along the way.


01 AGATE BEACH

Agate Beach is located at the north end of Patrick’s Point State Park and was one of my favorite beaches to explore during this trip. If you collected rocks as a kid / have children that love to explore and find little treasures, then this beach is a must visit.

I would recommend setting aside at least 2 hours for Agate Beach since it’s very easy to lose track of time when you’re searching for the technicolor stones this beach is so famous for. Make sure to wear either hiking boots or shoes with ankle support since the stairs leading down to the beach are pretty steep and the beach itself is pretty rocky.

Overlooking Agate Beach
Exploring Agate Beach along the California coast.

02 REDWOOD NATIONAL PARK

If you want to see some of the tallest and largest trees in the world, then head to Redwood National Park. Originally I had planned to explore the redwoods in Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park but unfortunately, we couldn’t find a place to pull over safely.

We decided to drive further up north and took a right onto Hamilton Road. From here we decided to wing it (because what’s adventure without a little risk taking) and found a small road that lead us straight to some of the most fantastic trees I have ever seen.

After taking some time to explore the forest we decided to continue driving down the road and eventually it lead us straight to a river.

Redwood National Park.
Redwood National Park
Inside a redwood tree.
Random river in Redwood National Park.

03 OPHIR BEACH

Driving along the Oregon Coast Highway should honestly be it's own reason for going to Oregon. I can't even begin to explain how beautiful it was to have the Pacific ocean on one side of the road and basically a forest on the other.

About 20 minutes away from Port Orford we discovered the most beautiful, secluded beach. This soft sand beach stretches on for miles and has some of the biggest waves along the coast. It was so fun running around this beach and we even saw a sea lion swimming near the shore!

This beach is definitely a hidden gem and I can't wait to come back next summer.

Seal at Ophir Beach along the central coast of Oregon.
Ophir beach waves.
Ophir beach, Oregon coast.
Ophir beach.

04 HECETA HEAD LIGHTHOUSE

Just north of Florence is one of the most beautiful (and still working) lighthouses in the United States.

We parked at the Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint. I would try to get to the park before 10 AM since the parking lot tends to fill up fast. There is also a $5 park fee that helps maintain the park.

From the parking lot, there is a short 1/2 mile trail that leads up to the lighthouse itself. The view from the lighthouse is absolutely breathtaking and we even saw some seals swimming in the ocean!

If you have some extra time, I would highly recommend checking out the beach. We explored during low tide and found some pretty awesome tidepools filled with light green sea anemone and starfish.

Heceta Head Lighthouse overlook.
Heceta Head Lighthouse overlook.
Heceta Head Lighthouse.
Heceta Head Lighthouse overlook.
Heceta Head Beach.

05 CAPE PERPETUA

Cape Perpetua is located along the central coast of Oregon and is home to some truly amazing sights. The three we explored on this trip were Spouting Horn, Thor’s Well, and Devil’s Churn.

We were able to access Spouting Horn and Thor’s Well from the same parking lot located along the west side of Highway 101. As we were getting out of our car, we ran into one of the park rangers who told us that there were a couple seals and a whale out in the ocean! He also warned us to try and not have our backs toward the ocean since it's very easy to get swept into the ocean by sneaker waves.

We watched Spouting Horn for a bit but the main attraction for us was Thor’s Well, the notorious gaping "sinkhole" of the Pacific coast. Many people say that Thor's Well used to be an underwater sea cave that collapsed, leaving behind a huge hole in the basalt shoreline. We arrived just as the tide started coming in and got to see Thor's Well in all its glory. It was so much fun watching as the waves would rush in underneath the bowl, shoot out, and then slowly drain back into ocean. 

Our next stop was Devil’s Churn, which is an inlet carved into the coast by the ocean waves. This was the most exhilarating and probably the most dangerous experience since we were walking along the side of the inlet as powerful waves rush in. It was so worth it once we made it to the end. Hearing the roar of the ocean waves rush in at Devil's Churn was really something else.

If you're planning on exploring Cape Perpetua, I would recommend wearing waterproof shoes/clothing. Make sure to watch your step in certain areas since the algae and seaweed can be very slippery. And please be extremely careful since the Pacific Ocean, although beautiful, can be unpredictable and relentless.    

Looking past 
Thor's Well.

Thor's Well.

Devil's Churn.

Devil's Churn.


06 YAQUINA HEAD OUTSTANDING NATURAL AREA

Exploring the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area and Marine Garden are gems that I would highly recommend adding to your itinerary when planning a trip to the Oregon coast.

There is a $7 park fee for one car and it lasts for three days! There is also a TON of parking. If you get there early enough, you can actually park at the lot right next to the lighthouse. There is an additional parking lot located closer to the entrance of the recreational area with more parking. We ended up parking at the latter and followed the smoothly paved trail to the lighthouse and marine garden.

I found this out later but, the lighthouse at the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area is the tallest lighthouse in Oregon state!

Right next to the lighthouse are stairs that lead down to the Yaquina Head Marine Garden. We got extremely lucky when we visited because the tide was the lowest it had been in a while. Before walking out onto the beach, one of the park volunteers gave us a checklist of things to find in the tide pools. We saw brightly colored sea anemone, starfish, and even some small fish and crabs. There were also a ton of seals out in the distance and a handful of seal pups. I had so much fun here and would definitely come back!

Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area lighthouse.
Elephant seals at the Yaquina Head Marine Garden
Sea urchins at the Yaquina Head Marine Garden.
Seals at the Yaquina Head Marine Garden.

07 CANNON BEACH

We arrived at Cannon Beach around 5 PM on our last day of our road trip. We parked at the south end of the beach and walked north to Haystack Rock. The last time I had been to Cannon Beach was when I was three so it was cool to explore the beach as an adult. I would recommend wearing warm clothes if you plan on exploring in the evening since it gets pretty windy and cold.

Afterwards we walked into town and grabbed some ice cream before heading to our last destination.

Cannon Beach - Haystack Rock

08 ECOLA STATE PARK

Our last destination before heading back home was Ecola State Park, which offers a breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean. We saw some surfers out on the water and could even see Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock in the distance. This park also has clean restrooms, picnic benches, and hiking trails.

Ecola State Park.

I definitely fell in love with the Oregon coast during this road trip and can't wait to go back.

What are some of your favorite places along the coast? Let me know in the comment section below!

 

XO,

Tina