A Traveler’s Guide to the Oregon Coast

Are you thinking about Oregon for your next travel contract? The Oregon coast is a majestic place, full of natural beauty, that you could call home during your contract. The Oregon Coast is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Oregon Coast Range to the east, and stretches approximately 362 miles. Thanks to the Oregon Beach Bill of 1967, there is free beach access to everyone. The Oregon Coast is typically divided into three sub-regions: the north coast, the central coast, and the south coast. The north coast stretches from Columbia River to Cascade Head, the central coast from Cascade Head to Reedsport, and the south coast from Reedsport to the Oregon-California border. 

The largest city on the Oregon Coast is Coos Bay, located on the south coast, with a population of about 17,000. Driving along the U.S. Route 101 will provide you with some of the most beautiful scenic overlooks of the Pacific Ocean and will help you get to over 80 of the state parks along the coast. The North Coast has the longest stretch of uninterrupted beaches and larger sandbar enclosed bays. Along the coast are the cities of Seaside, Cannon Beach and Tillamook. Seaside and Cannon Beach lie directly on the Pacific Ocean, whereas Tillamook lies inland along Tillamook Bay. 

The Central Coast has fewer sandy beaches, more sea cliffs and terraces, and a greater number of bays. Several small urban areas exist in this region. Among these are the cities of Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Newport, Waldport, and Yachats. Because the usable lands of the region are squeezed between the mountains and the ocean, most urban areas are relatively small but are still larger than those of the South Coast region. 

The South Coast of Oregon is more distinct from the North and Central Coast regions because of its mountainous nature. Much of the coastline in this region is made up of sea cliffs and miles of beaches. Among the landscape of the region exists the Oregon Dunes. There are seven incorporated cities on the south coast: Reedsport, North Bend, Coos Bay, Bandon, Port Orford, Gold Beach, and Brookings. 

The Culture

Oregon has a diverse Indian culture in Oregon with approximately 80 Native American tribes living in Oregon before the establishment of European pioneer settlements. There are seven reservations in Oregon that belong to seven of the nine federally recognized Oregon tribes: Burns Paiute Indian Colony, Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Reservation, Coquille Reservation, Grand Ronde Community, Siletz Reservation, Umatilla Reservation, and the Warm Springs Reservation. The culture in Oregon also stems from performing arts, music, literature, film, and national landmarks. The most notable event for the performing arts in Oregon is the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, a cultural event that has been running in Ashland, Oregon since 1935. The Oregon Symphony currently ranks among the largest orchestras in the nation and as one of the largest arts organizations in the Northwest. Their special event concerts and presentations to an audience totaling around 320,000 annually. 

The Scenery 

The Oregon Coast is also known for its scenic areas, such as Cape Perpetua, Cape Blanco and Cape Arago. Have you ever seen the forest meet the sea? It is a beautiful sight to see and you can experience it perfectly at Cape Perpetua. Cape Perpetua is a large forested headland projecting into the Pacific Ocean on the central Oregon Coast. The scenic area includes 2,700 acres of old growth spruce, Douglas fir, and western hemlock. Camping, picnicking, hiking, sightseeing, whale watching, and a visitor center with daily programs are all available within the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area. There are 26 miles of interconnected hiking trails in old growth forests that lead to Pacific Ocean tide pools. Oregon’s beaches are also popular destinations for visitors. Horse riding, clam digging, and surfing are popular activities. However, not all Oregon beaches are sand beaches. Large surf-smoothed stones are common and several stone beaches exist. Another popular destination for visitors is Oregon’s historic lighthouses, most of which date to before 1900. Because the Oregon and Washington coasts have been traditionally thought of as some of the most dangerous seas in the world, several lighthouses and a lightship were commissioned to aid sailors in navigating. Of the original 12 lights, nine are still in use. 

The Weather

The weather on the North Coast is moderate. The average low in the winter is just under 40 °F, while the high temperature is just above 50 °F. The average high reaches its peak in early September at 70 °F. The most rain occurs in November and December averaging over 11 inches each month. July and August are the driest averaging under 2 inches of rain each month. Most days are cloudy or partly cloudy throughout the year. The summer has the most sun with approximately half the days sunny or partly cloudy. The weather on the central coast is similar to that of the north coast except the frequency of sunny or partly cloudy days is higher in the summer, approaching 75%. The weather on the south coast is similar to that of the north and central coasts except the frequency of sunny or partly cloudy days is higher in the summer, approaching 90%. Right now, from September through mid October, is the best weather of the entire year on the Oregon Coast. Locals call it “Second Summer” with more stretches of sunny and windless days in the 60s and 70s than you’ll find at any other time.


The North Coast 

Peter Iredale Shipwreck— This ship ran ashore and got stuck in the sand in 1906 after bad weather made it impossible to navigate it out of the sandy shore. Now only the skeleton of the ship remains but over the years it’s become a popular tourist attraction for being one of the most accessible shipwrecks in the PNW. 

Ecola State Park— Situated directly north of Cannon Beach, Ecola State Park is a recreational area consisting of 2700 acres of land that was once a site for private homes. The main attraction of this park is an overlook that offers panoramic views of the Cannon Beach coastline and the Terrible Tilly lighthouse which took over 500 days to construct in brutal weather and is now abandoned.

Cannon Beach— Cannon Beach is one of the most popular coastal towns in Oregon. More than 750,000 visitors come to Cannon Beach every year to vacation at this beautiful beachfront city. The most recognizable landmark of Cannon Beach is the towering Haystack Rock that you can spot standing tall in the ocean from just about anywhere in town. Cannon Beach also offers a variety of lodging options from charming private rentals to casual resorts and spas.

The Central Coast

Depoe Bay Scenic Park— Depoe Bay is a small coastal town with charming mom & pop candy shops, souvenir stores, seafood restaurants, and a lava-covered shoreline. Depoe Bay is famous for having the smallest harbor in the world! But what really attracts people to this town is the ability to watch whales right from Highway 101 that runs through the city. 

Devil’s Punchbowl— Devil’s Punchbowl is one of the most remarkable stops along the Oregon Coast. Despite limited parking, it’s a natural geological wonder that attracts many visitors. Devil’s Punchbowl formed after the ceiling of an ocean cave collapsed creating a giant hole in the rock. During stormy days you can watch the waves crash against it with sheer power.

Yaquina Head Lighthouse— Oregon has quite a few scenic lighthouses scattered throughout its shores. At Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area you can explore the grounds of a 147-year-old lighthouse that still actively signals ships, or take the Lighthouse Trail down to a cobblestone covered beach.

The South Coast

Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area— At the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, you can hop on an ATV for a thrilling ride, explore trails that lead into sweeping sand dunes, and hang out on sandy beaches.

Cape Arago State Park— If you’re looking for a place to observe nature, the offshore islands at Cape Arago State Park serve as the largest natural habitat in Oregon for birds and marine animals. Multiple viewpoints offer easy access to see sea lions and seals swimming between the shores or lounging on the rocks. Often you can spot them popping up through the waves and hear barking sounds in the distance.

Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint— Here you can get a clear view from an overlook that opens up to a vast beach with enormous rock formations scattered along the shore. At low tide, you can also walk down to the beach and explore sea caves, tide pools, and hollowed arches.

For an unforgettable time, enjoy a horseback riding adventure right on the beach! Bandon Beach Riding Stables offer horse riding on the beach daily.

If the Oregon Coast is calling your name, let Pamela’s List set you up with a top paying contract and get you out there immediately! This beautiful coastline is a place like no other and will provide you with memorable experiences that you will be thankful you did not pass up.

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