A Guide To Exploring Modern-Day Oregon Trails

The Coast Highway

No matter how many times you drive it, it always draws you back.

Drive the entire 400-mile spectacle of the Oregon coastline, with 70 parks and waysides and dozens of scenic side loops leading to overlooks, lighthouses, observatories, waterfronts and marinas. You're never far from welcoming accommodations or generous helpings of Oregon's famous fresh seafood. All along the route, major highways connect you to the cities of inland Oregon.

Astoria: Begin in Astoria, where Hwy. 30 connects with Hwy. 101 in Oregon's northwest corner. Here, you can tour the coast's richest display of historic attractions, including the Columbia River Maritime Museum. Continuing on Hwy. 101, you'll reach the community of Warrenton and Fort Stevens. From there, Old Hwy. 101 brings you to the Fort Clatsop National Memorial, where the Lewis and Clark Expedition wintered in 1805-06.

The North Coast Resort Area: Visit the resort community of Gearhart, then on to Seaside, with its two-mile promenade and long list of recreation choices, including the many activities of the downtown area. Then drive past the Tillamook Lighthouse to Ecola State Park, and on to Cannon Beach, known for artists, festivals and views of Haystack Rock and the Needles. The next seven miles pass beautiful parks and viewpoints before arriving at Arch Cape.

On To Tillamook: Continue south to Neahkahnie Beach, the golf resort community of Manzanita, Nehalem Bay State Park and on through the center of Nehalem. Visit Wheeler, Rockaway Beach and Garibaldi Bay before arriving in Tillamook, site of Oregon's largest cheese factory. From here, Three Capes Loop leads to Cape Meares, Ocean-side and Netarts Bay. Loop back to rejoin Hwy. 101 at Tillamook, or continue south on the coastal road to Cape Lookout, Cape Kiwanda and Pacific City.

In And Around Lincoln City: Three Capes Loop rejoins Hwy. 101 south of Pacific City, and continues to Neskowin and the whale-watching post of Cascade Head. The resort hub of Lincoln City is just ahead with its colorful kite displays and art galleries. Visit Siletz Bay and Gleneden Beach, home of Salishan Lodge. Further on, you'll come to Depoe Bay - the world's smallest navigable harbor - before reaching Otter Rock. This 40-mile stretch features more than a dozen parks and waysides.

Newport And The Central Coast: The Yaquina Head Lighthouse marks the northern entrance to Newport, with its delightful Old Town bayfront, Visual Arts Center, Hatfield Museum and Science Center and the Oregon Coast Aquarium. East of town, travel Hwy. 20 ten miles to Toledo, an antique-hunters paradise. Continue on Hwy. 101 to South Beach with its huge park, and on to Seal Rock, Waldport and the quiet village of Yachats - in all a 30-mile stretch through the Siuslaw National Forest past a dozen beach parks.

Entering The Dunes: South of Yachats, take in the exhibits at the Cape Perpetua Visitors Center. View the Heceta Head Lighthouse from Devils Elbow State Park. And stop at famous Sea Lion Caves. A few miles beyond, Florence provides a good base for exploring the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, stretching 47 miles with nearly 14,000 acres of sand dunes. Honeyman State Park offers camping and dunes access. A 1/4-mile side road takes you to the Oregon Dunes Overlook. Next stop is Reedsport, home of The National Recreation Area Headquarters. See the Roosevelt elk viewing area along Hwy. 38. And take the two-mile Umpqua Lighthouse Loop just south in Winchester Bay.

The Coos Bay/North Bend Area: The neighboring cities of North Bend and Coos Bay are the coast's largest urban communities, with museums, shopping, theaters and an active cultural calendar. From either town, take a side trip west on the Cape Arago Hwy. that leads to Charleston, Shore Acres State Park And Historical Gardens and Cape Arago before rejoining Hwy. 101. Next is Bandon, a coastal center with art galleries, theaters and shopping. Nearby, walk through the West Coast Game Park Safari, or enjoy antique shops in Langlois. Then continue south through Denmark to Sixes, where a side road leads to Cape Blanco State Park and lighthouse.

Port Orford To Brookings/Harbor: Tour the harbor sights of Port Orford before heading to Wedderburn and Gold Beach, which straddle the Rogue River as it meets the Pacific. Visit Cape Sebastian State Park and Pistol River State Park, where an interesting back road route parallels the highway to Brookings. If you stay on Hwy. 101, you'll enjoy one of the coast's most scenic eight-mile stretches, with viewpoints all along the way. Finally, reach Brookings and Harbor - divided by the Chetco River - in Oregon's “Banana Belt,” just five miles north of California.

Detailed coastal driving tour information is available from the Oregon Coast Magazine, 1-800/348-8401. For general information on the Oregon coast contact the Oregon Coast Association, 1-800/858-8598 or P.O. Box 87, Depoe Bay, OR 97341.

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