tldr; Oregon Coast = underrated.
After getting the news that my little brother’s wedding was getting rescheduled and would no longer be in Olympic National Park (thanks, covid), we pivoted plans and headed south to Portland, where we kicked off a week-long tour of Oregon. We stayed two nights with our friend Mo and got to hang out with his cute baby and then we were off!
Our first stop was Cannon Beach, an iconic Oregon beach. It was just as we’d imagined it: classic foggy weather, a gray ocean with big waves, and huge sea stacks rising straight out of the beach and the ocean. We sat out on the beach for a while and watched as the fog rolled in and out and kids played as if gray, foggy, and chilly is the perfect beach weather. I guess it is for Oregonians!
After Cannon Beach, we headed to Tillamook, a small town most known for its incredibly creamy ice cream, cheeses, and other dairy products. We’d discovered Tillamook ice cream back in Austin before our trip and were looking forward to visiting their creamery. Do yourself a favor and try the mudslide flavor, it’s amazing. We enjoyed taking the tour of the creamery and learning how the cheese and ice cream is made. When we finished exploring though, the ice cream line looked like it would take an hour to go through so we opted to get ice cream on our own later and hopped back on the road.
We stopped off at another foggy beach and then last minute decided to squeeze in a hike to end the day. This hike turned out to have one of our favorite views of our entire trip! We drove down a dirt road for a few miles until we came to the trailhead in a forest. It was a short and easy hike, just a couple of flat miles, and we were the only ones out there. After about a mile of walking through the forest we popped out onto a hillside overlooking a beach way down below us with waves crashing and the sun setting above. It was so breathtaking and the photos really don’t do it justice. We sat out for a while and just soaked in what was our favorite view of our entire ~8-month trip so far.
Very satisfied from our day, and glad we’d fit in that last hike, we headed to our sleeping spot for the night, a casino with a quiet (and free!) parking lot and clean bathrooms.
The next morning, we headed off to another Devil’s Punchbowl (different from the one we’d just seen in Washington). This Devil’s Punchbowl really looks like a huge bowl carved out of rock. Waves would flow into the bowl, violently filling it up and churning around before emptying back out. We ate breakfast over there, watched the waves fill up the punchbowl, and watched surfers at a beach close by and then headed off to Cape Perpetua, where we got to see more amazing wavy and rocky formations, Thor’s Well and Spouting Horn.
Thor’s Well was a similar but more violent version of Devil’s Punchbowl, waves would fill up the “well” and then quickly drain, nearly sucking in any curious tourists who got too close as the waves rushed back out into the ocean. Watching Thor’s Well from up close was one of those experiences where you can really *feel* the scary power of the ocean. We didn’t linger too close or too long before walking over to Spouting Horn, an “ocean geyser” powered by waves crashing into a rocky cliff at just the right speed to send water shooting out of a hole and 20ft+ into the air. We explored the rocky shore area for a while longer, spotting other smaller geysers and watching waves crash into other cliffs, spraying tourists who weren’t paying attention.
When we’d gotten enough time watching the waves, we drove just down the road to a forested area. I took a nap in the van and then we both took a walk down to a 600 year old spruce tree, towering 185 ft tall.
After our walk through the forest, we headed to another beach where we read for a while and then walked up to Heceta Lighthouse. Along our walk up to the lighthouse, we spotted tons of blackberry bushes and picked handfuls of deliciously sweet and tart berries. We munched on our blueberries and watched the sunset before driving to another casino further south on the coast to spend the night.
The next morning, Choi tried to use a casino card that they’d given us when we’d checked in to sleep in the lot the night before. Thinking he had $10 to spend he used them all up on slots and lost it all. It was only after that he realized he’d somehow used his own money on those slots and lost us the $10. After two nights in a row sleeping at casinos, I suppose a $10 loss isn’t too bad!
The next morning was Monday so we drove just south to Florence and worked from a park there. After work, we drove to Sand Dune State Park. We didn’t fully know what to expect as we headed off on a hike down through a little forest into the sand. We trekked through the sand with sand dunes rising around us for about a mile until we came out onto an amazing beach. We were all alone on the huge and could see for ages in both directions. With the cloudy sky with the sun just barely shining through, it looked like another planet. I found tons of little shells and bits of sand dollars as we ran around on the beach. Eventually, we made our way back to the van and found somewhere to stop and sleep couple hours south down the coast.
The next two days, we worked from another park in Coos Bay. On Tuesday, we checked out three state parks near Coos Bay after work, Sunset Beach, Shore Acres, and Simpson Reef. Sunset Beach was a nice beach with amazing views from a clifftop down onto the beach where we walked down and explored a bit.
Shore Acres was a beautiful former estate that the owner had donated to the state. The park keeps up an amazing english garden with lots of roses that we walked around and smelled. At Shore Acres, we also walked down to what was once the owners’ private cove, a beach with tons of crabs, a little cave, and cool rock formations.
Simpson Reef was an overlook with tons of Sea Lions all congregated on an island a bit offshore. Even from far away, we could hear them all bickering and barking but were luckily spared their usually very strong fishy scent.
On Wednesday after work, we drove down to Bandon, a cute little beach town with tons of artwork all over a boardwalk right by the water. Next, we headed to Face Rock, a beach with lots of sea stacks with different shapes. Later in the evening, it started to rain a bit so we just stopped off at Gold Beach for some fish and chips and then got to our campsite in Brookings, the southernmost part of the Oregon Coast.
The next morning, we worked from our campsite in Brookings. It was so nice to have our own little spot to work with a picnic table and nice bathroom with showers nearby. There was a beach walking distance from the campsite and we walked over there to check out tons of tidepools, sea stacks, and cool bits of driftwood.
After work, we briefly headed back north for a scenic drive. Along the way, we stopped off at Cape Ferretto, a really nice viewpoint where we took a little hike to a beach with lots more blackberries that we couldn’t resist picking. Next stop was Natural Bridge viewpoint, an amazing spot with two natural rock bridges over the ocean down below us.
After our scenic drive, we waved goodbye to the Oregon Coast and drove inland to a small town halfway between the coast and our next stop, Crater Lake.
Oregon Coast, we love your incredible hikes, your foggy sea stack beaches, and your breathtaking views everywhere we went. Along We Go!