Northern Oregon Coast – Part 1

Days 27-28 (August 26-27)
Northern Oregon Coast – Ecola State Park, Cannon & Indian Beaches, Nehalem Bay State Park.

Old growth rainforest hugs the shore. Misty, foggy bluffs overlook dramatic sandy, rocky beaches. Today we fall deeply in love with the Oregon Coast.

Leaving Astoria, we plan to spend a week wandering Highway 101 along the Oregon Coast, though we quickly realize a week isn’t even close to enough time. Our first stop is Ecola State Park for a stunning vista of Cannon Beach and its famous sea stacks.

Overlooking Cannon Beach from Ecola State Park Oregon
Overlooking Indian Beach & Cannon Beach from Ecola State Park

From the overlook we make a short drive to Indian Beach (still within Ecola State Park), a surfing hotspot and great stop for a 30-minute break from the car.  

Indian Beach surf hotspot Oregon Coast
Indian Beach

Our feet feel planted in this place, but alas we must move on. It’s easier knowing that while we drive south for an overnight, weather permitting we’ll drive north again to see Cannon Beach the next day.

Overlooking Haystack Rock from Highway 101 near Cannon Beach Oregon
Overlooking Haystack Rock from Highway 101

We are only able to reserve one night at Nehalem Bay State Park, where we pitch our tent in a pretty & unique campground within easy walking distance of the beach. Before the rain starts to fall, we fit in a walk through a sea grass-lined path over the dune to the beach. Unfortunately we don’t get to thoroughly enjoy the beauty of this park because the inclement weather doesn’t stop until just before dawn the following day. 

Path between campground and beach at Nehalem Bay State Park
Path between campground and beach at Nehalem Bay State Park
Beach at Nehalem Bay State Park Oregon
Nehalem Beach

This looks like a beautiful stretch of beach, however there is almost no visibility due to fog. As the rain rolls in we decide to make the short drive into the charming and tiny riverside town of Nehalem, where we walk around for a few minutes and venture into a little antique store, but come away with no treasures and sadly no pictures. I was feeling a little run down and not very snappy I suppose (very unlike me!). That would also explain why I forgot to take a picture of our campsite. When we return to camp, I crawl into the tent at 6:30 for a nap that ends up lasting for 12 hours.

Beach at Nehalem Bay State Park Oregon
The rain rolls in at Nehalem Beach

Having forgotten to set my alarm and thinking that low tide was at 7-ish the next morning, we scramble to get dressed and drive north to Cannon Beach. After misty and rainy skies the past few days, we’re so happy for a perfect blue sky day!

Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach Oregon one of the world's largest sea stacks
Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach at low tide (one of the world’s largest sea stacks).

Unbeknownst to us until we arrive this morning, the Pacific coast Starfish (sea stars) have rapidly disappeared over the past year due to a wasting disease that scientists have not yet been able to identify the cause of.

Sea Star starfish & Anemones at Haystack Rock tide pools Cannon Beach Oregon
Lone Starfish & Anemones at Haystack Rock

Although Cannon Beach’s tide pools are widely known to be one of the best tide pools spots on the coast, we see only a handful of starfish. Later in the day we read that 85% of Oregon’s sea star population has died. 

Sea Stars at Cannon Beach, Haystack Rock tide pools Cannon Beach Oregon
Sea Stars at Cannon Beach, Haystack Rock tide pools

The tide pool area seems crowded for a weekday at the end of August, but not intolerably so.

Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach
Haystack Rock

The town of Cannon Beach is quite welcoming and people are friendly. While it appears to be an affluent area, there is a casual and comfortable vibe.

Sea Stacks at Cannon Beach Oregon
Sea Stacks at Cannon Beach

We are excited to see that there is a Pig-n-Pancake here (the Astoria location was too crowded), so we stop for a great cup of coffee and pretty good breakfast.

I’ve spotted this plant  in a few different coastal areas in the PNW. If anyone can identify it for me, I’d greatly appreciate it. Just lovely!

Landscaping along the path overlooking Cannon Beach
Landscaping along the path overlooking Cannon Beach

Oh yeah, we could definitely just settle in here for a while and be happy.

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5 Comments

  1. Beautiful photos, Marsi. I know how you felt about the fog; I always get irritable when I encounter foggy days when traveling. I remember Canon Beach fondly; I was there in what seems like another lifetime, it was so long ago! Thanks for the memories. 🙂

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    1. We loved Canon Beach. Fog in the PNW is to be expected of course, and is beautiful. But after several days of gray skies, we were ready for some sun. We were very lucky to see Canon Beach under sunny skies the next day!

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      1. Oh that is such a bummer! When one only has a day to spend in a special place, it’s always disappointing when the weather isn’t good.

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