Moon Coastal Oregon


By Judy Jewell

By W. C. McRae

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$14.99 CAD




ebook $11.99 $14.99 CAD

Observe mighty forces of nature, hike coastal cliffs, and savor a moment of solitude with Moon Coastal Oregon. Inside you’ll find:
  • Flexible, strategic itineraries, from seaside weekend getaways to a 10-day road trip along U.S. 101, with lists of the best off-the-radar beaches, campsites, fishing spots, photo ops, and much more
  • The top activities and unique experiences: Scan the ocean for spouting whales or gaze at free-swimming sharks from inside the underwater tunnel at Oregon Coast Aquarium. Admire local art in Astoria’s galleries, learn to blow glass Lincoln City, or soak in the sounds of a music festival in summer
  • Outdoor adventures: Wander along the stack-speckled shoreline of Cannon Beach, admire the endless horizon from the top of a lighthouse, or hike across vast sand dunes. Set up camp in a yurt near shipwrecks, sand spits, or redwood forests. Explore any of the 80 state parks that line the coast, try your hand at sandboarding, or take an exhilarating jet-boat tour through Rogue River
  • Local flavors: Sample award-winning cheddar cheese in Tillamook, slurp fresh-shucked oysters, or enjoy organic produce at a county farmers market. Kick back at a brewery with ocean views for traditional Northwest IPAs, light saisons, and sour wild yeast beers
  • Expert insight from Oregon locals Judy Jewell and W.C. McRae on when to go, how to get around, and where to stay, from quaint coastal B&Bs to campgrounds in the redwoods
  • Full-color photos and detailed maps throughout
  • Thorough background on the landscape, plants and animals, climate, and local culture
With Moon Coastal Oregon’s practical tips and local insight, you can experience the best of this unique region.

Hitting the road? Try Moon Pacific Northwest Road Trip. Exploring more of the Beaver State? Try Moon Oregon.


yurt at coastal Oregon campground

seafood restaurant in Newport

DISCOVER Coastal Oregon


Planning Your Trip


Coastal Road Trip


Trails and Tide Pools

Catch of the Day

Top 10 Photo Ops


Undiscovered Beaches


Cannon Beach.

In few other places on earth is the meeting of land and sea as dramatic and beautiful as along Oregon’s 360 miles of Pacific coastline, from the mouth of the Columbia River to the redwood forests at the California border. Here, at the far western skirt of the continent, nature has found an expansive stage on which to act out the full range of its varied and ceaseless dramas, from the microcosm of a tide pool to the ferocious storms that make first landfall here. Rocky headlands rise high above the ocean, dropping away to the pounding waves in cliffs hundreds of feet high. Lone fingers of rock poke through sandy beaches and march out far into the surging waves. Seals, sea lions, puffins, and innumerable shorebirds make their home in this marine wilderness.

Here you can find intense solitude, in the company of only the calling seabirds, and experience firsthand why residents refer to this coast as “The Edge”—yet the comforts of civilization and human company are always close by in an inviting string of towns and villages, each with its own character and charm.

Don’t neglect the opportunity to get outdoors and experience the full range of recreation available here. Cycling the Oregon Coast Bike Route is a rite of passage for many bicyclists from around the world. The Oregon Coast Trail provides hikers many opportunities to explore the coastline. The bays and estuaries are tempting destinations for kayakers, as they provide a watery backdrop for excellent marine bird and wildlife viewing. Diminished wild salmon runs have limited some coastal sportfishing expeditions, but the catch is still good for halibut, tuna, and bottom fish. And when fishing boats from Newport, Depoe Bay, Garibaldi, and Astoria aren’t seeking the catch of the day, many offer whale-watching trips. Surfing the chill waters of the north Pacific demands a particular brand of hardiness, but many find that, with the right wetsuit, they’re able to catch some waves.

old cannery in Astoria

view off the southern Oregon coast

tidal fountain at Cape Perpetua

Considering the scenic splendor of the Oregon coast, it may seem odd that it remains largely unblemished by upscale tourism infrastructure. In part, this is due to a farsighted state government, which in the 1910s set aside as public land the entire length of Oregon’s Pacific coastline. The Oregon coast belongs to the people. It’s a place where human visitors can encounter the creatures of the sea and forest, and observe the mighty forces of nature.

Astoria Brewing Company

Garibaldi seafood spot.

intertidal rock in Tillamook Bay


1 Embark on an Epic Road Trip: Oregon’s 360 miles of coastline make for the scenic drive of a lifetime.

2 Climb to the Top of a Lighthouse: From the lighthouses at Heceta Head and Cape Blanco, the views go on forever.

3 Explore Tide Pools at Haystack Rock: At low tide, Cannon Beach’s iconic sea stack is a fine place to see starfish, anemones, and other marinelife.

4 Take a Hike: For epic views at continent’s edge, head to the trails at spots like Cape Lookout and Cape Perpetua.

5 Go Whale-Watching at Depoe Bay: At the state’s whale-watching capital, you can spot these magnificent creatures from land or sea.

6 Walk through an Underwater Tunnel: It’s the highlight of the Oregon Coast Aquarium, one of the state’s most popular attractions.

7 Wander the Oregon Dunes: Hiking on the ever-shifting piles of sand is exhausting but exhilarating.

8 Snap a Pic along the “Fabulous 50 Miles”: The Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor is considered one of the most dramatic meetings of rock and tide in the world.

9 Feast on Fresh Fish: Hit some of the best seafood restaurants along the coast—or catch your own!

10 Jet up the Rogue River: This trip from Gold Beach promises spectacular views of landscape and wildlife.

Planning Your Trip

Where to Go

Although part of a seamless whole, sharing a common shoreline and linked by an unbroken scenic highway, each part of the coast possesses a distinct regional flavor.

North Coast

In the north—journey’s end for Lewis and Clark—steep headlands break up wide sandy beaches. The northern Oregon coast, just 1.5 hours from Portland, is the most developed and heavily populated part of the coast. Historic Astoria, fun-loving Seaside, and artsy Cannon Beach are all within a short drive of one another, but are remarkably different in character. But don’t think it’s just one town after another—huge areas of the coast are set aside as state parks, and there are ample opportunities to hike, camp, and explore tide pools.

Central Coast

The central coast is anchored at its northern end by sprawling Lincoln City and its family-friendly wide beaches, and is centered around Newport, the largest city in the area, with charming older neighborhoods, good restaurants, an active fishing port, and the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Farther south, Florence and Reedsport border the astounding Oregon Dunes, an otherworldly sand-scape with massive sand dunes, lakes, and broad lazy estuaries.

South Coast

The south coast feels far from everything: a landscape of ocean-fronting mountains cloaked by dense evergreen forest, wild rivers, and black-sand beaches punctuated with dramatic rock formations. Postindustrial Coos Bay needn’t delay you, but just to the west are wild and beautiful natural areas, including Cape Arago and the fascinating estuarine area at South Slough. Bandon is small, cozy, and full of tourists, many here for the world-class golf courses at Bandon Dunes. The southernmost part of Oregon’s coastline may well be its most scenic, especially the stretch between Port Orford and Brookings.

When to Go

Unless you’re a dyed-in-the-wool rain-loving Pacific Northwesterner, you’ll most likely want to visit the Oregon coast during the summer and early fall (July-September), when there’s a far better chance of sunshine. Even then, coastal fogs can put a chill on things, so it’s nearly essential to bring a fleece jacket, as well as a windbreaker for the gale-force gusts that locals call “the breeze.” It’s also best to bring rain gear—we somewhat superstitiously consider it to be insurance against a summertime storm. But it’s not always cold here: Don’t be surprised if a mid- to late-summer trip sees you wearing little more than shorts, a T-shirt, flip-flops, and sunscreen.

From late fall through spring, storm watchers come to the coast to feel the blustery bite of rain pelting their faces as they walk the beaches. It can be really thrilling to stay in a beachfront motel or cottage (paying a fraction of the summertime rates) and watch the storm clouds roll in. The big secret is that there can be absolutely beautiful weather in between storms when the sun breaks through, and temperatures are generally much milder than in other parts of the state.

Another reason to visit in December or late March (roughly Christmastime or spring break) is to see whales migrating between their winter homes off Baja California and their summertime grounds near Alaska. Look for “Whale Watching Spoken Here” signs to find good vantage points.

beach trail

Coastal Road Trip


For many travelers, following the coastal highway U.S. 101 along the rugged Oregon coast is the trip of a lifetime. Although the coast route counts just 360 miles, don’t try to rush this trip or squeeze it into anything less than three days. Twisting roads, slow-moving traffic, and jaw-dropping vistas are sure to slow you down, so start out by planning flexibility into your schedule.

If you’re not lucky enough to have time for a trip spanning the entire coast and need to sample just a section, it’s easy to use the I-5 freeway corridor (roughly 60-80 miles inland) as a quick north or south arterial, cutting over to the coast near your destination.

So feel free to tinker with this strict north-south itinerary. If you are flying into and out of Portland, it may make sense to leapfrog your way down the coast, catching the intervening towns on your way back north.

Day 1

From Portland, drive 95 miles northwest to Astoria, a city full of history and spunky do-it-yourself charm. Visit the Columbia River Maritime Museum to learn about the area’s maritime past (and present), and check out the city’s vibrant art and dining scene. Walk the hilly streets behind downtown to view resplendent Victorian homes. Spend the night at the Cannery Pier Hotel beneath the more than four-mile-long Astoria-Megler Bridge, which spans the mighty Columbia.

Day 2

Drive south about 8 miles to Fort Clatsop National Memorial, which features a replica of the winter home Lewis and Clark used in 1805-1806. If the day is fair, drive another 7 miles to Fort Stevens State Park to stroll along the shore and watch the Columbia River roll into the Pacific, or simply continue 22 miles to Cannon Beach, with its dramatic shoreline dominated by sea stacks. Stroll through the town’s attractive and mazelike downtown shopping district, and spend the night at the Stephanie Inn.

Day 3

From Cannon Beach, drive about 10 miles south to drop through the lush temperate rainforest in Oswald West State Park, stopping for a hike to the beach or a stunning view of the ocean from 700-foot-high cliffs on the flanks of Neahkahnie Mountain. Stop for lunch in the commercial fishing village of Garibaldi, 21 miles to the south, with some of the freshest and tastiest fish-and-chips you’re likely to eat. In Tillamook (10 miles), it’s almost mandatory for visitors to stop at the Tillamook Creamery, both for the cheese (now made off-site) and the tasty ice cream cones. Continue another 44 miles south to Lincoln City via U.S. 101, staying at the Starfish Manor Hotel.

Day 4

From Lincoln City continue 12 miles south to Depoe Bay, worth a stop to admire the pocket harbor and scan for spouting whales, then take the Otter Crest scenic loop, cresting at the Cape Foulweather vista. It’s only another 12 miles to Newport, so you’ll get there before lunch—which is lucky, because you’ll want to have two meals’ worth of eating to explore the good food here. Spend the afternoon at the Oregon Coast Aquarium and the night at the Inn at Nye Beach.

Day 5

This is another short day of driving, because you’ll want to save time to hike. Proceed 24 miles south to Yachats, one of the coast’s most charming towns and gateway to Cape Perpetua, a wonderful natural area where mountains meet the sea and acres of tide pools rise above the surf. Check in at the comfortable Overleaf Lodge, and reward yourself for hiking along Cape Perpetua with dinner at one of Yachats’s excellent restaurants.

hiking path at Cape Perpetua

Day 6

Florence is set alongside the Siuslaw River 25 miles south of Yachats, and its riverside Old Town will briefly steal your attention away from the ocean. It’s a good base for exploring the Oregon Dunes, which start just south of town and rise up to 500 feet high. Hike through this striking habitat, or go for the thrills of sandboarding or a dune buggy ride. Spend the night in Florence.

exploring the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

Day 7

Although Coos Bay doesn’t beckon the average traveler, this city 50 miles south of Florence is the gateway to some astoundingly beautiful headlands and beaches just west. Don’t miss blustery Cape Arago and the gardens of Shore Acres State Park. Head south about 25 miles along Seven Devils Road and spend the night in Bandon. With its Old Town, beaches, and golfing at the internationally acclaimed Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, this town demands attention. Bandon is laid-back and easy to explore on foot, with more good restaurants than you’d expect.

Day 8

It’s tempting to shrug off Gold Beach’s jet-boat tours up the mighty Rogue River as hokey tourist schlock, but these rides are actually pretty great, with good commentary and the chance to see bald eagles and other wildlife. It’s 55 miles from Bandon to Gold Beach; be sure to get there in time to meet your boat.

Day 9

Between Gold Beach and Brookings (28 miles), the coastline is at its finest, with many pullouts offering paths down to secluded rocky beaches. Come prepared with a sweatshirt and a windbreaker and spend an afternoon exploring this stretch. In Brookings, it’s important to stop for a walk and some bird-watching at Harris Beach State Park, but it’s also worthwhile to get off the coastal strip and explore the Chetco River. Alfred A. Loeb State Park has good river access and a path through myrtle and redwood trees.

Day 10

If you’re heading back to the I-5 corridor after your tour of the coast, consider dropping down to Crescent City in California, then heading inland on U.S. 199. This highway, which you pick up 22 miles south of the state border, passes through the northern edge of the California redwoods on its way to I-5 at Grants Pass, Oregon (83 miles).

Trails and Tide Pools

Coastal Oregon has a large number of high-quality state parks. There are nearly 80 state parks—19 with campgrounds—easily accessible from U.S. 101 in Oregon. Parks are located at all of the coast’s most beautiful places, making access easy and affordable. Each of these itineraries makes for a great weekend trip, or you could combine them for a weeklong adventure.

colorful tide pool life

North Coast

A dramatic start to a tour of the coast’s parks begins at the point where the Columbia River enters the Pacific, at the northern edge of the huge Fort Stevens State Park. Miles of bike and hiking trails lead past abandoned gunneries (this was originally a Civil War military fortification); along the beach, the skeletal remains of the Peter Iredale shipwreck are a focal point. The campground here is the state’s largest—stay here if you want showers and a kid-friendly atmosphere; for more solitude and almost no amenities except for those provided by nature, head south and inland a bit to camp at Saddle Mountain State Natural Area, at the base of a fantastic hiking trail.


Get up early and drive south past Cannon Beach to Oswald West State Park, where trails through an old-growth forest lead to Short Sands Beach, Cape Falcon, and Neahkahnie Mountain. Plan to spend the night a few miles south by the dunes at Nehalem Bay State Park, just a beach walk south of the lovely town of Manzanita.

Oswald West State Park


Head south to Tillamook and pick up the Three Capes Scenic Loop. Take time to explore the parks at Cape Meares (bring binoculars and look for puffins on the rocks here) and Oceanside. The 2.5-mile Cape Lookout Trail takes you out onto a narrow, steep-sided finger of land jutting into the sea. It’s one of the coast’s most dramatic hikes, and particularly popular during the late-March whale-watching season. South of Cape Lookout, visit Cape Kiwanda to climb up on the bluff and run down the sand dunes.

Central Coast

As you pass through the more developed areas of Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, and Newport, stop at some of the day-use parks along the way. Boiler Bay, a mile north of Depoe Bay, is a great place to ponder the power of the surf; at Yaquina Head, at the north end of Newport, spend a couple of hours visiting the lighthouse and exploring tide pools. Beachside State Park has a campground between the towns of Waldport and Yachats.


Hike the trails and explore the dramatic rocky beach at Cape Perpetua, then continue south to the Oregon Dunes. Hikes in the dunes can be either random (even disorienting) explorations or can follow more defined routes. The blue-topped posts marking the John Dellenback Trail, about 10 miles south of Reedsport, guide you through a narrow band of coastal evergreen forest and 2.5 miles of 300- to 400-foot-high dunes to the beach.

Here you’ll have your choice between a number of U.S. Forest Service campgrounds between Florence and Reedsport, including those near the Waxmyrtle, Carter Dunes, and Taylor Dunes Trails, and a couple of state park spots (Tugman and Umpqua Lighthouse) south of Reedsport.

South Coast

Head to the western edge of the continental United States and pitch your tent at Cape Blanco State Park. Along with the trails around the cape and down to the beach, visit the historic lighthouse.

Take your time on the trip south from Cape Blanco. The 1,756-foot-high Humbug Mountain, six miles south of Port Orford, is the highest mountain rising directly off the Oregon shoreline. A three-mile trail to its top yields both great views of the coastline and a chance to see wild rhododendrons 20-25 feet high. Rising above the rhodies and giant ferns are bigleaf maple, Port Orford cedar, and Douglas and grand firs.


In the far-south stretch between Gold Beach and Brookings are the many roadside pullouts along the 12-mile Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. Drop in for a walk along the beach, or hike the Oregon Coast Trail between a couple of coves. At the north end of Brookings, Harris Beach State Park is a bustling campground near another lovely beach.

Catch of the Day


Fishing, crabbing, clamming, and mussel-gathering isn’t just fun—it will fill your dinner plate too. There’s plenty for foragers to eat along the Oregon coast, if you know where to look for it. If apprehending your own dinner from the sea isn’t your style, then rest assured that almost every port town on the Oregon coast will have a crab shack or fish-and-chips shop where you can find exceedingly fresh and tasty seafood. Often these venues are right in the harbor or on the piers. What they may lack in upscale ambience is made up for with authenticity.

All crabbers and clam diggers need a shellfish license,


On Sale
Jul 14, 2020
Page Count
256 pages
Moon Travel

Judy Jewell

About the Author

While visiting Goosenecks State Park, Judy Jewell realized that, like the river below, she might be an example of entrenched meandering. Perhaps so…her work on the Moon guides to Utah, Montana, and Oregon has taken her to both the popular destinations and the remote areas in these states. In Utah, there's nothing she likes better than tromping through a dry wash in search of rock art or an old granary. When she's at home in Portland, Oregon, Judy works as a technical and scientific editor and a yoga teacher.

W.C. McRae has been exploring Utah for several decades, each time getting farther off the road and digging deeper into the landscape. Every trip has a different focus, whether it's hiking into a new and more remote canyon, fixating on ancient rock art, or going deluxe at guest ranches. Bill has written for Frommer's, Lonely Planet, and Mobile Guides, and has contributed to 1000 Places to See Before You Die. He has also edited books for National Geographic and provided content for websites such as and When not fixing up his old house in Astoria, Oregon, Bill has a day job as a high-tech marketing writer.


Learn more about this author

W. C. McRae

About the Author

W.C. McRae has been exploring Utah for several decades, each time getting farther off the road and digging deeper into the landscape. Every trip has a different focus, whether it’s hiking into a new and more remote canyon, fixating on ancient rock art, or going deluxe at guest ranches. Bill has written for Frommer’s, Lonely Planet, and Mobile Guides, and has contributed to 1000 Places to See Before You Die. He has also edited books for National Geographic and provided content for websites such as and When not fixing up his old house in Astoria, Oregon, Bill has a day job as a high-tech marketing writer.

While visiting Goosenecks State Park, Judy Jewell realized that, like the river below, she might be an example of entrenched meandering. Perhaps so… her work on the Moon guides to Utah, Montana, and Oregon has taken her to both the popular destinations and the remote areas in these states. In Utah, there’s nothing she likes better than tromping through a dry wash in search of rock art or an old granary. When she’s at home in Portland, Oregon, Judy works as a technical and scientific editor and a yoga teacher.

Learn more about this author