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Oregon Highway 101
Road Trip Guide

The Oregon coastline is arguably the best stretch of road along the Pacific Coast - there is no other section of Highway 101 or 1 that stays so consistently close to the ocean. Rugged headlands, large rivers, and quiet beach towns are found throughout the entire coast. There is so much to explore with very few population centers close by, which means everything feels relaxed and local.

Along this stretch of Highway 101 you can expect to find delicious cheese factories, amazing microbreweries, scrumptious seafood, and plenty of charmingly quirky motels and bed & breakfasts.

Here's what you'll find in the Oregon Highway 101 Road Trip Guide

Oregon Highway 101 Road Trip Guide pano

5) Astoria

The Mighty Columbia River

The Columbia is the fourth largest river by volume in North America, and the largest by volume to enter the Pacific. Over the course of 1243 miles this river drops 2690 feet from Columbia Lake, British Columbia to Astoria, Oregon. For over 15,000 years native tribes fished, traveled, and traded along the Columbia River. Salmon served as both a major source of food and also as a focal point of their religious beliefs. Many historic fishing sites, such as Celilo Falls, were submerged when hydroelectric dams were built.

In the area known as Columbia Bar, where the river meets the ocean, conditions change from calm to life-threatening in a matter of minutes. Over 2000 ships and 700 live have been lost in this one area alone, giving it the nickname Graveyard of the Pacific(1).

5 Absolutely Cannot Pass-Up Destinations

Local Advice from Skyler Lanning
  • 1) Ecola State Park is a great hiking destination, with old growth rain forest and fantastic trails hugging the cape. The trails also offer great views of the crashing surf below, with numerous vantage points looking directly onto the famous Haystack Rock.
  • 2) Neahkahnie Overlook is the highest viewpoint along the Oregon Coast and uses this to full effect - it offers visitors enormous 180 degree views of the coastline. On a clear day, common sights are the town of Manzanita, Nehalem Bay, Tillamook Bay and the Three Arch Rocks.
  • 3) Manzanita which mean “Little Apple,” is a very cute and quaint coastal town that makes for a great stop. They have a cool coffee shop, aptly named Manzanita Coffee Shop, a number of confectionary shops, and a very stroll-able main street.
  • 4) The Tillamook Cheese Factory is a great stop for locals and tourists alike. It is a cooperative-owned cheese maker that produces 40 million pounds of cheese annually. They offer self-guided tours of their production lines, complimentary cheese tastings, and amazing ice cream for purchase.
  • 5) Whale watching is always in season along the Oregon Coast, due to a permanent whale population numbering around 40. Peak viewing is usually in June and December, with whale watchers trying to catch glimpses of the thousands of whales on their annual migration. Regardless of the time of year, Depot Bay and their whale-watching center is a fantastic stop to catch sightings. Interesting side note - the city also has the world's smallest harbor.

Skyler Lanning and his wife Maria operate Wildwood Adventures, a day tour company out of Portland, OR. They offer public and customized tours to some of Oregon’s greatest natural treasures. For more information visit


SOME AWESOME HIKE Why you should go here Additional information FIRST Look for any TAG along your route ATTRACTIONS (Shops, Museum, and Tourism Spots) VIEWPOINTS (Free Roadside Pulloffs) EATERIES (From Seafood Shacks to Fine Dining) HIKES (Mostly Short Dayhikes) CAMPING (For Bikers, Tenters, RVers, and Yurters) LODGING (Hotels, Motels, and Bed & Breakfasts) BREWERIES (Tasting, Touring, and often Food) WINERIES (Tasting and Touring) BEACHES (Some of the Best Spots to Relax) THE ICON TELLS YOU WHAT IS THERE CLICK THE TAG FOR MORE INFORMATION

** MOBILE USERS - Zoom in for more detail **

Warrenton Seaside Surf Pines Gearhart Cannon Beach Nehalem Manzanita Wheeler Brighton Rockaway Beach Svensen Knappa Hammond Elsie Arch Cape Foss C o l u m b i a R i v e r N 2 MILES 5) ASTORIA 1 hour 20 minutes Drive Time 56 miles 7TH 8TH NEHALEM HWY FRONT MARINE C o l u m b i a R i v e r Riverwalk Y o u n g s R i v e r ASTORIA COLUMBIA MARITIME MUSEUM Amazing history of the Columbia River $12 per adult, $6 per child ASTORIA COLUMN The best views of the town and coast Spiral frieze of northwest history BUOY BEER COMPANY Local microbrews on the water $7 - $18 NORBLAD HOTEL Hostel style with private room options $35 - $135 per night NORTHWEST WILD PRODUCTS Fresh seafood and fish market Market Price CANNERY PIER HOTEL High end hotel with stunning setting $179 - $350 per night ASTORIA WRECK OF THE PETER IREDALE Shipwreck of 1906 steel barque $5 day-use fee for state park FORT STEVENS STATE PARK Beach walking, historic defenses $21 per night for tent site ECOLA STATE PARK 8-miles of trail, amazing views + beach $5 day-use fee for state park HAYSTACK ROCK Iconic monolith reachable by land 235 foot tall sea stack SEA LEVEL BAKERY + COFFEE Stumptown coffee, pastries, breads $3 - $6 OSWALD WEST STATE PARK Surfing, waterfall, and beautiful beach FREE! - 1/2 mile walk to beach NEHALEM BEACH STATE PARK Camping behind sand dunes & beach $5 day-use, $29 tent/RV, $44 yurt KELLY’S BRIGHTON MARINA Catch and cook crab, tours, boat rental Plus camping for tents & RVs ROCKAWAY BEACH 6 mile stretch of wide sand beach With nearby town comforts SEA HAVEN MOTEL Fully equipped kitchen, close to beach $70 - $90 per night OLD OREGON SMOKE HOUSE Barbecue + Seafood. Great chowder $9 - $15 INN OF THE FOUR WINDS Oceanfront rooms and dining $169 - $329 per night TURNAROUND & BEACH Lewis & Clark Trail official end Wide beach with nearby shops FIREHOUSE GRILL Burgers, Biscuits, and Bloody Marys $4 - $13 NEAHKAHNIE VIEWPOINT 180 views of the coastline Highest viewpoint on the Oregon coast

6) Three Capes Scenic Route

The Three Capes

Local Advice from Jeremy Strober

The best stop along Highway 101 in Oregon requires that you veer off of Highway 101 by just 3 miles. The Three Capes Scenic Route begins just south of Cloverdale and takes you to Pacific City where you’ll find Cape Kiwanda, the southernmost Cape along the Three Capes Route.

In Pacific City, you will find the lesser-known Haystack Rock, towering 357 feet above the water. Adjacent to the Cape, it makes for beautiful eye-candy as you stare west.

Pacific City, Oregon

Photo by Jeremy Strober

Sitting right on the beach at Cape Kiwanda is the Pelican Pub & Brewery, one of the state’s award-winning breweries. The Pelican offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner on an outdoor patio so you can enjoy the beach al fresco.

Pelican Pub and Brewery

Photo by Jeremy Strober

The Cape provides for some of the most diverse activities along the coast. It is the Home of the Dory Fleet, a flat-bottom fishing boat that launches off the sand into the surf and has done so from this spot for over 100 years. It is one of the best surfing spots along the coast, providing perfect breakers courtesy of the sandbar that stretches from the Rock to the Cape. Kayakers launch here to fish or ride the waves. The marine garden provides tidepooling galore. And the 18 story sand dune creates a mecca for climbing, running, jumping, and sand boarding.

You can reconnect to Highway 101 as you travel north, after visiting Cape Lookout and Cape Meares.

As the operator of three local lodging establishments, Jeremy Stober often gets asked about the unique places to eat, drink, and visit. Being able to recommend the perfect match to a guest’s desire is his favorite part of the hospitality business! Find out more at

Barview Garibaldi Tillamook Bay City Idaville Cape Meares Oceanside Netarts Pleasant Valley Tierra Del Mar Beaver Hebo Cloverdale Oretown Neskowin Otis Neotsu Lincoln City N 2 MILES 6) THREE CAPES SCENIC ROUTE 1 hour 25 minutes Drive Time 60 miles CAPE LOOKOUT STATE PARK Large campground right on the beach $6 biker, $21 tent, $44 yurt, $88 cabin CAPE TRAIL Excellent spot for whale watching 4.8 miles round trip, 930 ft gain/loss NORTH TRAIL Connects the campground & headland 2.3 miles one way POINT LOOKOUT STATE PARK POINT LOOKOUT PACIFIC CITY CAPE KIWANDA DR PACIFIC N e s t u c c a BASKET CASE WINES Snobbery free wine tasting atmosphere + well priced bottles GRATEFUL BREAD BAKERY Amazing breakfast + lunch options $5 - $12 NESTUCCA ADVENTURES Kayak and SUP rentals PELICAN PUB & BREWERY Have a beer right on the beach Serves food all day from $9+ 3 CAPES OPTION Adds 45 minutes Adds 15 miles COTTAGES AT CAPE KIWANDA Luxury housing for 4-6 people $379 - $479 per cottage per night INN AT CAPE KIWANDA Beautiful rooms & views, friendly staff $179 - $279 per night CAPE KIWANDA NATURAL AREA Stunning place to watch sunsets Explore the cliffs and nearby beaches PACIFIC CITY N e s t u c c a T r a s k BAY OCEAN PENINSULA PARK Long sand beach all to yourself! FREE! CAPE MEARES LIGHTHOUSE FREE! Open Apr - Oct from 11 - 4 Check out the nearby Octopus Tree ROSEANNA’S CAFE Beautiful views of the coast + cobbler $15 - $32 LEX’S COOL STUFF Assorted 2nd hand items Don’t miss the homemade brownies DE GARDE BREWING Best sour beers on the Pacific Coast Open Thu & Fri 3-7, Sat 12 - 7, Sun 11-5 TILLAMOOK CHEESE FACTORY Watch how cheese is made & packed FREE SAMPLES + gift store FIVE RIVERS COFFEE ROASTER Cozy up with freshly brewed coffee $5 - $9 BLUE HERON CHEESE CO. Fancy cheese, local wine, and lunch Pick up a variety of gourmet gits SAND LAKE RECREATION AREA Small but popular OHV area CAFE ON HAWK CREEK Breakfast, soup, pizza, salads, sandwiches, seafood, steak! $8 - $28 ROADS END STATE PARK Easy beach access with little traffic Explore tidepools at Roads End Point WILD FLOWER GRILL Try the Wild Flower Turkey Po’Boy $10 - $17

7) Newport

Conde McCullough - Bridge Builder

In the early 20th century, towns along the rugged Oregon coast were practically unreachable. By the 1920s, rapidly growing interest in coastal tourism prompted the funding of a highway that would span the entire length (2). Over the course of five years, from 1921 to 1926, section by section of Highway 101 was completed. Among the many challenges the engineers faced were the many rivers that ran from the Coastal Range Mountains to the ocean. Ferries were commonly used to transport cars and good across the rivers, but they couldn’t keep up with the increasing demands the highway brought. Instead, it was decided that bridges must connect each section of road.

Conde McCullough, the Oregon state bridge engineer at the time, was presented with the opportunity to design and build the infrastructure for these key links to the highway. McCullough wasn’t just interested in making the bridges structurally sound, but also architecturally beautiful. Over the course of fifteen years, McCullough designed a total of fourteen bridges along Highway 101. These bridges are constructed in a variety of styles and materials. You will find them adorned with Gothic spires, art deco obelisks, and Romanesque arches (3).

Some notable bridges include the Yaquina Bay Bridge (Newport), the Siuslaw River Bridge (Florence), and the Old Youngs Bay Bridge (Astoria).

McCullough went on to help design over 600 bridges in his lifetime.