Destination: Cannon Beach, Oregon

Photo: Kirkouimet, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ask anyone to describe the quintessential Pacific Northwest coast, and they will likely paint you a picture of windswept pines overlooking expansive sand flats punctuated by silvery driftwood logs and rocky sea pinnacles. That’s this week’s destination in a nutshell.

Cannon Beach is a city in Northern Oregon as well as an actual beach, just an hour and a half from Portland, Oregon, that can be reached via US Highway 26 west. Part of the Tillamook tribe’s traditional territory, the area was visited by the Lewis and Clark expedition in the early 1800s. After scouts found the beach, the group returned, and eventually, they traded with the area Natives for 300 pounds of whale blubber and oil. This interaction was subsequently commemorated by a wooden whale sculpture that can be found in the current town of Cannon Beach.

While you can’t drive your vehicle onto the beach without a special permit, it’s still a great place to go and explore the tide pools on foot and capture photos of Haystack Rock (which features prominently in most images of the destination).

Photo: Justin Luebke, CC0 1.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Things to explore near Cannon Beach

While Cannon Beach itself is a great place to spend an afternoon, there are quite a few other attractions to enjoy nearby, many of which happen to be state parks and recreation areas. Here are some leads to get you started:

Ecola State Park – Just three miles north of Cannon Beach, Ecola State Park encompasses nine miles of coastline and offers ample hiking, surfing, and wildlife viewing opportunities. A day-use or annual parking permit is required to visit the park. Reservations: 800-452-5687

Fort Stevens State Park – Forty minutes north, you will find the historic military site of Fort Stevens State Park. In addition to having one of the nation’s largest public campgrounds, Fort Stevens also has a historic shipwreck, the Columbia Shore Disc Golf Course, 15 miles of multi-use trails, rental yurts and cabins, fishing, boating access, and a lot more. Reservations: 800-452-5687

Cannon Beach History Center and Museum – If you love history, this is an excellent place to get a thorough overview of all that makes Cannon Beach unique. With over 12,000 photos and historical documents in their archives, as well as rotating exhibits that change seasonally, and free lectures, the museum is a great place to spend an afternoon. 503-436-9301

Photo: Richardmouser, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Arcadia Beach State Recreation SiteThe Arcadia Beach State Recreation Site offers more than a mile of beautiful Pacific Coast beachfront stretching between Humbug Point and Hug Point. During low tide, you can walk past the headlands at either end of the beach, and if you choose to go north, you might be able to spot Jockey Cap, an off-shore rock pinnacle. The recreation site offers picnic tables, restrooms, and beach access. 800-551-6949

Oswalt West State Park – Six and a half miles south of Cannon Beach, you’ll find Oswalt West State Park, one of the gems of the Oregon State Park system which encompasses 2,484 acres of temperate rainforest and sandy beaches. The Oregon Coast Trail winds through the park, covering 13 miles of terrain under dense canopies of Western Red Cedar, Western Hemlock, and Sitka Spruce. While no camping allowed in this park, it’s still a great destination for a day trip, with plenty of hiking, picnic facilities, restrooms, fishing, and beach access. 800-551-6949

Photo: Peter Pearsall/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


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Matt is a paragliding pilot and adventure seeker living full-time in a 25-foot Airstream travel trailer pulled by a Ram 2500. His love of the outdoors has driven him to explore remote destinations across North and South America in search of the most aesthetic peaks and beautiful flying sites. IG: @m.b.swartz