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We meandered our way south along Hwy 101 on a gusty, but gorgeous morning, our goal the fishing port of Newport and Beverly Beach State Park. The highway south from Astoria is curvy, but easily drivable and overall quite lovely passing through endless cute inlets and towns, cheese (you can park the RV for both a tour and taste at Tillamook), a veritable slew of drive-through expresso stops (a few of which we deemed “beast-doable”) and stunning coastline.
But our real goal, although we didn’t know it yet was to see the “Outstanding Natural Area” of Yaquina Head. Now, the reason I knew this to be true was because the sign informed me of this very helpful tip (quite literally in fact). This was clearly not an opportunity to be missed and the comforting knowledge of a fabulous experience put it top of the list on arrival. So we piled pooch in the car and headed off.
Yaquina Head is the remnant of a 14-million year old lava flow, a stunning Basalt toe that reaches into the Pacific ocean just north of Newport, OR. Managed by the BLM it’s got a historic lighthouse (from 1873 -> with free tours to the top), several cute trails and panoramic views in all directions. During the right season (Late Dec/early Jan) it’s also one of the best whale watching spots along the entire Oregon coast. In this case the sign does not lie and it’s well worth the $7 to get in, see the sights and soak in the view. Pooch, by the way, is welcome everywhere except the short trail around and into the lighthouse.
From Yaquina Head we headed on south to Newport. A city with it’s heart in the sea it’s home to one of the largest commercial fishing fleets on the Oregon coast. One of the big draws is the Historic Bay Front, a rather kitschy, but nonetheless cute eating/walking area near the fleets. The walk by the bay was fun (especially the murals) but the rest of the city is…well…a little too suburbia for my taste. There are definitely some nice touches such as Nye Beach, the big Aquarium and some sweeeet long-board surfing spots, but the vibe we got was a tad overdeveloped and not as relaxed as the other Coastal towns we’ve seen.
Still, the area is most certainly worth a stop. Outside of Newport there are a ton of other interesting activities such as the trip to Cape Foulweather (worth it just for the name), a tour of Depoe Bay (home of the world’s smallest navigable harbor and another whale watching hot-spot) and of course long and relaxing walks on the beach and in the nearby State Parks. Most definitely an Outstanding Natural Area
P.S. Although we didn’t get to eat out, one of my blog commenters (Jeff) gave me this great little tip which I wanted to pass along “for dining with a view, try either The Inn At Spanish Head in Lincon City or Otter Crest a few miles north of Newport”.
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