October 19 – 22, 2014: We love cheese. Our first stop as we headed from Portland towards the Oregon coastline was in Tillamook at the Tillamook cheese factory. We quickly completed the self-guided tour to get to the cheese samples and ice cream.
We stocked up on some cheese and fudge before continuing onto our Three Capes Scenic Drive.
The first stop was Cape Meares, a state scenic viewpoint, where we walked a short distance to a lighthouse and viewed the Pacific coast of the United States for the first time with Camper Dan. Apparently puffins can be found here but not at this time of year. No puffins! Cape Meares is also home to the Octopus Tree, aptly named due to the branches that stem from its base. Carrying on, we passed Cape Lookout state park area and spent the night in Cape Kiwanda, near Pacific City. Our campground was located just across the street from the beach and dunes.
In Cape Kiwanda, we walked on the beach and climbed a huge sand dune. The climb, despite the wind and light rain, was well worth it. The unspoiled views of the ocean, dunes and rocks were spectacular. We had dinner and drinks at the Pelican Pub & Brewery right on the beach.
Our drive down the coast the next day included stops at Devils Punchbowl for a view of the rough waters, Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area to view a lighthouse and visit an interpretive center, and Pebble Beach to view seals and walk over the pebbles that exist instead of sand. The pebbles are the result of lava coming in contact with colder waters. We had an early dinner that evening at Rogue Ales Bayfront Public House on Yaquina Bay. It is here that I saw the most amazing rainbow that I have ever seen in my life. Check out that full arch with the entire rainbow spectrum. Absolutely breathtaking. We spent the night in a KOA that had scenic views over Alsea Bay.
The next day we arrived at the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area and hiked to view Devil’s Churn (water rushing into a chasm), as well as tide pools, Thor’s Well (more violent water bashing against rock formations), Cook’s Chasm (water rushing into a chasm) and Spouting Horn (the water rushes into a chasm but then blows upward looking like a whale spout). The Spouting Horn was my favorite although all these vantage points cool. We even saw sea lions bobbing in the water. From Cape Perpetua we traveled on to Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint which is the most photographed lighthouse on the Oregon coast. It was a white-washed structure with a red roof and quite picturesque. We then made our way into the dunes area and arrived at John Dellenback Dunes Trail. The trail started in the forest but ended up in a vast dunes area – it was stunning and unlike anything we’ve seen so far in the United States. It reminded us of the dunes in Namibia a little bit. Hiking on the sand trails was more difficult but I felt so free running up and down like a little kid. A number of these areas had a $5 day fee (paid once) but our Annual Pass could be used instead. We had dinner in Coos Bay and spent the night at Sunset Bay State Park in Cape Arago.
Our last full day on the Oregon coast was spent driving through the three adjoining parks of Sunset Bay, Shore Acres, and Cape Arago. We saw lots of sea lions at Simpson Reef Overlook in Cape Arago but, other than that, we spent a lot of time driving through strong winds and tons of rain. Because of all the rain we decided not to head to Crater Lake because it wasn’t likely we’d be able to see the lake nor drive around the lake because of road closures. So, we ended our Oregon tour and followed the rain just across the California state border.