One of the most fun and beautiful vacation destinations in the United States, or at least on the West Coast, is the Oregon Coast. Many people are familiar with the coastal scenery found in California, as well as the landscape of the upper Pacific coast found in Washington and up into Canada. The Oregon Coast offers the perfect mix of the two with long sandy beaches combined with stunning rugged beauty in the form of sea caves, rock formations, and cliffs. There are a number of fantastic things to do all along the Oregon Coast, and most of them are easily accessible from the state highway that follows the coastline for most of its length. Here is a look at five of the most impressive natural sights on the Oregon Coast.
Sea Lion Caves
One of the more interesting and popular tourist attractions on the Oregon Coast for decades has been Sea Lion Caves. The attraction is located right on the coast, just north of the community of Florence. Here visitors can view Sea Lions playing and sunning themselves on a large rock that sits just offshore. But the real treat is descending down an elevator into a viewing area where Sea Lions can be viewed as they frolic in a huge ocean cavern. This cave system is home to North America’s only year round colony of Steller’s Sea Lions. The cavern itself is about as long as a football field and approximately twelve stories tall.
Devil’s Punch Bowl State Natural Area
Situated on the central section of the Oregon Coast, Devil’s Punch Bowl State Natural Area is a day use park that attracts many visitors as they drive up or down the coastal highway. The site is located just north of the community of Newport and provides for some wonderful scenic views. The main feature of the area is the Devil’s Punch Bowl itself which is a large open natural pit with a small opening to the Pacific Ocean. When wave crash in through the opening they then churn inside, sometimes violently, and are viewable from above the pit’s opening. Surfing is good in the area and there are a number of other natural features like rock formations in the area too. A trail leads down to the beach where visitors can access tide pools, and whale watching is a popular activity during the proper season.
Oregon Coast Aquarium
While it isn’t purely a natural area, some of the best parts of nature on the Oregon Coast can be viewed with a quick trip to the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport, Oregon. The aquarium gained a great deal of fame in the 1990s when it was home to Keiko, the famous orca from the Free Willy film, but today it remains rated among the top aquariums in the United States. The aquarium concentrates on exhibiting undersea life that is native to the Oregon Coast. The most popular exhibit is the Passages of the Deep where guests of the aquarium can walk through clear tunnels surrounded by water and spectacular marine life including rays, sharks, rockfish, and more. There are also opportunities for visitors to experience a hands-on relationship with some examples of sea life that are regularly found in tide pools. The Oregon Coast Aquarium is a great stop for the entire family.
Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area
One of the more unusual areas of the Oregon Coast is the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. The Oregon Coast is famous for its accessible beaches and rock formations, but in this forty mile long stretch of area between the Coos River and the Siuslaw River, there is nothing but sand. Most people are surprised to find out that the Oregon Coast is the home of the largest expanse of coastal sand dunes on the entire North American continent. There are a number of activities that can be participated in at the dunes including off road vehicle driving and tours, hiking, birdwatching, and more. The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is truly something that needs to be seen to be believed.
Possibly the most impressive rock formation on the Oregon Coast is Haystack Rock, located near the popular vacation destination of Cannon Beach on the northern part of the Oregon Coast. The rock towers more than 230 feet above the surrounding sand and water and is one of the most photographed features of the entire coastal region. This popular monolith attracts vacationers who want to both view it from afar as well as experience it up close and personal. There are a number of unique species of marine wildlife that can be found and viewed in the vicinity of Haystack Rock. Visitors enjoy the rock for a number of reasons, some come to climb on it, while others come to paint or photograph it. Haystack Rock is a must see natural site on the Oregon Coast.
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There are a number of ways to enjoy the beauty that is found along the Oregon Coast. Many people come for the fun in the sun, sand, and surf that can be had on the beaches there. The ocean front communities offer great shopping and dining experiences. There are also a number of tourist attractions along the coast designed to entertain children and adults alike. One of the best ways to be entertained on the Oregon Coast though is to get out and enjoy the many natural sights that can be found there. From the long expanses of sand in the dunes area to the imposing rock monoliths up north, the Oregon Coast has more than enough natural areas to impress and entertain anyone who comes to the area.