Are you traveling to Oregon soon and looking for great spots to take photos? Will you be along the northern Oregon coast? Will you be near the town of Cannon Beach? Will you be somewhere near the northern Oregon coast?
Do you love beaches? How about rocky beaches? Do you love scenic coastlines? How about waterfalls? Sea caves? Well read on, because you can find all these and more along the northern Oregon coastline!
Oregon is jaw-droppingly beautiful. There, I went ahead and got that out of the way at the beginning. But it’s true - there is just so much incredible beauty in that state!
I have visited Oregon several times in my life - thankfully! - and each time I am just reminded that this place is special. It must be an outdoor-lovers dream to live there. It seems at every turn there is some incredible scenery. As a photographer, it makes it really hard to get anywhere. You keep wanting to stop and shoot!
And while I am certainly not an expert on the state, in the last couple of years I have made a couple of trips to the northern coastline of Oregon, mostly around the town of Cannon Beach, and have discovered some great spots that are worth visiting!
In fact, I had to search a bit to find a couple of these spots, and I have heard from others that they were not familiar with them, despite repeated visits out there. So this list is designed to help any photographer who is headed that way to quickly find a few key spots and get them photographed. You can thank me later. :-)
This list is not comprehensive - it’s just 5 spots, after all - but all of these are simply beautiful and well worth a visit. And it doesn’t hurt that you can get to them all pretty quickly, because they are not too far apart. The hardest part is deciding on which one to visit during sunset!
By the way, I am going to list these in geographical order, from north to south. I don’t know why but it just seems right to do so. That way you can start at #1 in the north and end at #5 in the south. But keep in mind that there is only about 30 miles between the first and last stop, so technically you could quickly visit all these in a single day. However, my preference would be to take it slower so you can enjoy them. All these sites are quite beautiful.
So without further rambling on my part, take a look at the list, enjoy the photos, and if you have any suggested adds feel free to leave them in the comments, so any other visitors can find them!
1) The wreck of the Peter Iredale
This is such a freakin’ cool place - I totally loved it here! The Peter Iredale was a large steel sailing ship which ran aground here in October of 1906. It was headed to the Columbia River, but obviously never made it.
You can find this place outside of Warrenton, OR near Fort Stevens and about 4 miles south of the Columbia River channel.
As far as time commitment at the site, it’s not particularly large. There are a couple of angles to shoot it from, and then you are done. That could change if the tide is really far out, or if you are waiting on sunset, but otherwise it’s a straightforward shoot.
2) Ecola State Park
Alright, this is the next stop driving south from the Peter Iredale, and the view from here is spectacular! I really do love this view. You can see down the coastline quite a good ways, even catching Haystack Rock (#3 below) and more further down the coast.
This park is just a few minutes outside of Cannon Beach, OR (on the north side of town) and requires a winding drive through some tall, beautiful trees along the way.
Your time commitment here can vary. On both of my visits, it has been pretty quick. From the main parking lot, you can walk down to a viewing platform which places you staring straight down the coast. It’s perfectly placed, it seems. Literally you can just stand there and fire some shots, which is exactly what I did.
There are some trails and a bit of hiking you can do, and I believe you can even hike down to the beach from there. Obviously choosing any of that would extend your time here, which ain’t a bad thing!
3) Haystack Rock
Everyone loves Haystack Rock! This monolith is one of those iconic symbols of Oregon’s rugged, beautiful coastline. It’s way cool just to hang out on the beach and walk around the tidepools you can find at the base of the rock. Note that Haystack Rock is a Nature Preserve so there is no climbing on it or getting too close.
This one is the hardest from a parking standpoint. It’s right in the town of Cannon Beach, and owing to its popularity it gets a lot of visitors (the town and the rock). So you might have to drive a little to find parking, and then walking out onto the beach to get close can take a bit - but it’s all worth it.
Time commitment here will vary wildly. Some folks may not care about a big rock jutting out of the Pacific Ocean, but I love it. All told, I have spent several hours hanging out around here, taking photos, waiting on sunset, taking more photos, and generally just enjoying the incredible beauty of it.
But depending on your schedule, you could make this one pretty quick if its too touristy or crowded for you. My preference is to get on the south side of it and aim back up towards the north, but really this thing is great from either side.
4) Hug Point
Have you ever seen the movie The Goonies? Yes? Good. You will have that in your head the whole time you are in this area. A lot of it was filmed around the town of Astoria, and in fact you can go see the Goonies House in Astoria too. Goofy fun.
Anyways, I love that movie and one of the things I like most about it is the incredible scenery. Now to my knowledge, Hug Point was not used in the movie, but it sure seems like it ought to have been! Just look at it! Ain’t this incredible??!!!
I spent a good while here, taking shots and climbing into sea caves. I mean, how often do you get a chance to do that anyways? I was in total “kid in a candy store” mode. This place is just so beautiful.
Time commitment? Again, it depends. I spent about an hour here, but in a hurry you could shoot this a bit more quickly, if you had to.
By the way, Hug Point is just about 10 minutes south of Cannon Beach, OR.
5) Oswald West State Park
Oswald West is something you might actually miss if you aren’t paying close attention, because from the road all you see is trees. The highway actually goes right through it, so look for signs. There is a big parking lot with restrooms on the left side as you are headed south.
Once you park, take one of the trails and head towards the ocean. The various trails meander through the trees, and eventually you are greeted with a park-like area with picnic tables and restrooms down by the beach.
There are a couple of cool spots to see while here. There is an old suspension bridge crossing one of the creeks, which is a short hike through the woods. The thing I loved most was hiking down onto the beach and across it to the far side, where a waterfall cascades down onto it. Just another beautiful spot, darn! :-)
Here your time commitment could be a couple of hours or so, depending on how involved you get in the hiking, and how many pictures you are taking. We took food along and had a picnic and generally just hung out for quite a while. It’s that kind of place.
Plus along the trail’s edge in the forest there are some old logs that have fallen into a stream, and the stream runs through the forest and empties onto the beach. It’s all pretty magical!