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.
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).
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 www.WildwoodTours.com
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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.
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.
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 www.yourlittlebeachtown.com
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.