The scenic coastal route is also known as Highway 101 or Pacific Coast Scenic Byway, where one can marvel at the remarkable view of the Pacific Ocean and stop at several attractions. The scenic route expands about 362 miles, and most of the road trips start from Portland. It can take about a week or two to make the full road trip itinerary to enjoy some popular attractions, where one can indulge in many fun-packed activities such as hiking, fishing, scuba diving, and even sandboarding. Below we have narrowed down four of the best stops on the stunning Oregon Coast for your next road trip.
Cannon Beach - Scenic Road Trip
Kickstart the scenic road trip along the Oregon Coast by driving from Portland to Cannon Beach, a real heaven for beach lovers. This small and charming coastal town is lauded for its long sandy shore that stretches as far as the eye can see. It’s no wonder why the National Geographic Magazine has listed this place as ‘one of the world’s 100 most beautiful places in their June 2013 issue.
Apart from its picturesque sea stacks that lined the shore, and its off-the-beaten hiking trails, Cannon Beach’s real draw is the Haystack Rock. Designated under the National Wildlife Refuge, Haystack Rock is a towering sea stack that teems with wildlife, including the tufted puffins. And when there is low tide, one can marvel at the tide pools brimming with vibrant sea creatures. Another feature is the Hug Point Recreation Site composed of stunning sea caves, seasonal waterfall, and tide pools.
- Distance from Portland to Cannon Beach: 1 hour 30 minutes (79 miles) via US-26 W and US-26 W
- Nearby Attractions: Ecola State Park, Tillamook Lighthouse, and Indian Beach
- Facilities: Restaurants, boutique shops, art galleries, breweries, and limited parking lots.
- Events: Sand castle-building contest (June); annual Fourth of July parade
Lincoln City, Oregon Coast
Just about a 2-hour drive from the Cannon Beach stop at the Lincoln City, an oceanfront town bestowed with seven miles of beaches, which means there are plenty of fun activities to do-think surfing, swimming, or sandcastle building. Nature lovers can head to the southern edge of Lincoln City to connect with nature at Siletz Bay. Away from town traffic and crowds, Siletz Bay is a nature lover’s paradise. This ecological attraction is a vast estuary home to marshes, mudflats, and sloughs. One of its key features is the Alder Island Nature Trail consisting of the Siletz River, and Millport Slough. Hikers can also indulge in eco-friendly activities such as kayaking or canoeing on the water.
Another must-see spot is the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area just a 24-minute drive from Siletz Bay. This wildlife sanctuary is home to the West Coast's largest nesting colonies of Common Murre and several bird species such as Pelagic Cormorants, Pigeon Guillemots, and Bald Eagles. On top of that visitors will get to see Gray Whales, especially in December and January, when they migrate to warmer waters to breed. There is also a 93-foot 19th-century lighthouse, where visitors can feast their eyes on the surrounding breathtaking views.
- Alder Island Nature Trail: Half-mile of short hiking trail
- Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area: Opens from 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Another recommended stop along the Oregon Coast is Florence popular among adrenaline junkies. There is a very good reason why people called it ‘Oregon’s Coastal Playground’. The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is one of the popular attractions in Florence, where one can find a large expanse of coastal sand dunes stretching about 40 miles north from the Coos River to the Siuslaw River. Its impressive topography is a draw in itself. This place is perfect to experience an adrenaline rush by riding a motorcycle, 4x4, or quad in the designated riding areas. In addition, many can also enjoy a myriad of fun activities including sailing, scuba diving, and fishing at the on-site lakes (such as Woahink, Tenmile Lakes, or Siltcoos) and ponds.
- Distance between Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area to Florence: 1 hour (52 miles) via US-101 S
- Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area Opening Hours: 8:00 am - 6:30 pm
Samuel H Boardman Scenic Corridor
End the Oregon Coast road trip at the Samuel H Boardman Scenic Corridor tucked in the southwestern part of Oregon. The attraction stretches 12 miles along the coast adorned with lofty Sitka spruce trees, pristine beaches, and majestic sea stacks home to oystercatchers and gulls. The attraction is a hotspot for hikers and photographers to enjoy the natural beauty of its main features such as the Natural Bridges, and Arch Rock. The Natural Bridges consist of seven arch rocks and blowholes. While the Arch Rock serves as an excellent viewpoint to bask in the magnificent view of the surroundings including the ocean.
- Address: U.S. 101, Brookings, OR 97415, United States
- Arch Rock: Accessed by an easy 0.2-mile loop
- Other Attractions: Indian Sands Trail, House Rock Viewpoint, and Whaleshead Beach
- The best time to visit Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor: Late summer and early fall