The Oregon Coast, located along the western border of the Pacific Northwest state, is an popular tourist district which stretches some 363 miles. As it travels from the Columbia River to the Californian border it takes in the popular destinations of Astoria, Seaside, Cannon Beach, and Newport. There’s never a bad time to visit as all these areas enjoy moderate temperatures, with sunny summer days and mild winters.
Indigenous people first inhabited the Oregon Coast some 11, 000 years ago, but little is known about their way of life. However the idyllic conditions soon encouraged various Native American tribes including the Coos, the Clatsop, the Tillamook, and the Alsea to settle in the Oregon locale. Explorers from Spain, Britain, and America began to explore the region in the 18th century, but it wasn’t until Charles Wilkes arrived in 1838 that pioneers decided to settle the land.
Fishing and logging quickly became profitable industries, but today’s Oregon coast is most famous as a tourist destination. Travelers come for its majestic scenery, outdoor activities, historical sites, and popular attractions.
The beaches of the Oregon coast are ideal for fishing, crabbing, a coastal horse ride, or digging for clams. Many allow you to sink your toes into the soft sand, but some shorelines are covered with the stones common in parts of Europe. While the surf has smoothed them, they still don’t feel comfortable underfoot. Remember to keep your flip flops on until you reach the water’s edge! Plan a trip to Maui or another Hawaiian island if you want sand and warmth!
Fishing is another popular activity around these parts, but take heed before you bait your line. Oregon State has strict regulations concerning the harvesting of fish to ensure local industries are not impacted by amateurs. To ensure you’re playing by the rules join one of the half or full day trips offered by the area’s charter boat companies. The experienced guides will show you the best spots for catching Chinook salmon, Pacific halibut, and Coho salmon.
Away from the shore travelers enjoy hiking through the Oregon Coast’s wilderness trails and camping in the region’s national parks. The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is a particularly popular spot for these activities, horse-riding, off-road driving, and photography. It also attracts sandboarders, who get their boards out of the waves and onto the dune slopes.
Tourists keen to learn more about the area’s history should head to one of the 11 lighthouses which dot the coastline. Nine of these structures have been helping ships navigate the rough seas since before the 1900s, while Pelican Bay Light and Cleft of the Rock Light are more recent additions. If you don’t have time to see them all make sure you visit Cape Blanco Lighthouse, the oldest continuously operating light in Oregon, and Heceta Head Lighthouse, with its sea bird nesting sites and incredible ocean views.
Fort Clatsop is another site that history buffs shouldn’t miss. Explorers Lewis and Clarke set up camp at this location just outside of Astoria during their most famous expedition. It’s now a protected part of the Lewis and Clark National and State Historical Parks. While the original fort has been damaged over time, volunteers built a replica in 2006.
From lush forests to sandy beaches, a stay on the Oregon Coast offers travelers an experience that’s as diverse as the coastline.