We headed down the coast with no real destination in mind, but the beautiful beaches of Northern Oregon were too alluring. So we decided to make it a short drive and stop near the adorable town of Manzanita.
We camped at Nehalem Bay State Park, which we had read wonderful reviews about. The park is on a sand spit with the ocean on one side and the bay on the other. And pretty close to Cannon Beach. Perfect. Check out my review of the campground here.
There was a path to the beach right behind our site. The trail took us across sand dunes to one of those long, wide beaches that dot this coast. More beach walking and beachcombing was on the program, as we were fortunate to have clear skies once again.
Stacks of driftwood have washed ashore many of the beaches on the Oregon Coast and created an untamed landscape. Some of the huge logs are from trees that must have been hundreds of years old when they succumbed to the forces of nature or man.
All of that driftwood has contributed to the tradition amongst those of the Oregon Coast of building “forts”, structures that serve as shelters on these wild, windy beaches. Most of them are built during the summer, and the ocean waves wash many of them away. But others are thoughtfully built structures that are sturdy enough to withstand the elements.
The next morning we returned to our “private” beach at Nehalem Bay. Angel loves to run around on the beach and skim the water’s edge, but she never jumps in the water, whether it is the ocean or a lake or a river. She seems to like the water on her paws, but just is not a water dog.
The waves had just receded a bit and Angel was following the water’s edge back, when I realized she was too close. This is something I am always aware of since Oregon is known for “sneaker” waves that suddenly surge much higher than the preceding waves.
The waves that followed were not exactly sneaker waves, but they came up to Angel’s chest. She looked confused and I ran in after her. When the wave rolled back she was having a bit of a tough time with her footing in the undertow so I went in to the water and supported her to help her get back on dry ground.
That afternoon we headed to Cannon Beach, a picturesque town and popular weekend getaway for Portlanders. The town was renamed after a cannon that washed ashore when the US Navy schooner Shark hit land while attempting to cross the Columbia River Bar in 1846. The original cannon sits in the town’s museum.
Cannon Beach has lots of shops and restaurants but no chain stores. Established regional artists have created a thriving arts scene which continues to attract emerging artists. And its fabulous beach is graced by towering sea stacks including the iconic Haystack Rock, at 235 feet, the third largest coastal monolith in the world.
A visit to this beach is a must for us anytime we are nearby, and this time we planned a sunset visit. Even this late in the season, this beach is popular, although not by any means crowded. The three of us joined others the beach; some walking, some beach combing, some gathered around bonfires.
Haystack Rock is part of the Oregon Island National Wildlife Refuge, as well as a designated National Wilderness area and it never fails to take our breath away when we see it. Two years ago we were fortunate enough to visit during nesting season, when tufted puffins, among others, nest on Haystack Rock.
This time of year there are no nesting birds, but the beach is still spectacular.
The sunset was quite subtle, and we stayed on the beach into dusk watching the town light up. Somehow we never quite make it to walking around the town itself, preferring to spend our time at the beach.
We planned one last outing to our “private” beach at Nehalem Bay the morning before we left, but weather did not cooperate. So we said goodbye to these beautiful beaches and waited for a less rainy window to head further south.