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Oregon’s Three Capes Scenic Loop

The Three Capes Scenic Loop, a 35-mile byway off U.S. 101 between Tillamook and Pacific City, stays close to the ocean, which U.S. 101 does not. And although the beauty of Capes Meares, Lookout, and Kiwanda certainly justifies leaving the main highway, it would be an overstatement to portray this drive as a thrill-a-minute detour on the order of the south coast’s Boardman State Park or the central coast’s Otter Crest Loop.

view of a rock formation off the coast of Oregon in Oceanside
Oceanside lies on the Three Capes Scenic Loop between Cape Meares and Netarts. Photo © hungrybackpack/123rf.

Instead of fronting the ocean, the road connecting the capes winds mostly through dairy country, small beach towns, and second-growth forest. What’s special here are the three capes themselves, and unless you get out of the car and walk on the trails, you’ll miss the aesthetic appeal and distinctiveness of each headland’s ecosystem.

The wave-battered bluffs of Cape Kiwanda, the precipitous overlooks along the Cape Lookout Highway, and the curious Octopus Tree at Cape Meares are the perfect antidotes to the inland towns along this stretch of U.S. 101.

The majority of the Three Capes lodging and dining options are clustered in Netarts and Oceanside and at the other end in Pacific City. In between, it’s mostly sand dunes, isolated beaches, rainforest, and pasture.

Getting to the Three Capes Scenic Loop

To reach the Three Capes Scenic Loop from the north, turn west at Tillamook and follow signs to Cape Meares. From the south, follow signs north of Neskowin to Pacific City. From the south, follow signs north of Neskowin to Pacific City.


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