Tahoe Light Photography » Corporate, outdoor and adventure photography by Reno and Lake Tahoe freelance photographer Scott Sady.

Aliner trailer camping along the Oregon coast – part 2


by Scott

part 2 of 3

After leaving Jedediah Smith redwoods in northern California, we headed to the Oregon Coast. This was all new area to me, and in hindsight, we didn’t spend nearly enough time here. The Oregon coast is to me, an idealized, romanticized version of the California coast, only without the crowds, infrastructure, hotels, private access and bloated costs. Really, places like Bandon Beach were absolute gems with no pretension and miles of amazing shoreline and rugged rock formations. Bandon beach is most impressive at sunrise and sunset if you can get some good color. Otherwise keep a tide chart and aim for a really low tide, where you will find rocks covered with starfish up to your head sometimes. We camped at Bullards Beach State Park just north of Bandon. Small, nothing special campground, but they did have free hot showers. From there it is easy to access all the coast from Bandon down to Cape Blanco, and all of it is worthwhile. If you are in Bandon at sunrise, keep your eyes out for the amazing sand labyrinths a local artist often draws in the sand. Many of these images can be purchased or licensed for use by searching my online archive.

Amazing starfish formations at low tide on Bandon Beach

Amazing starfish formations at low tide on Bandon Beach

Pillars of starfish at low tide on Bandon Beach in Oregon

Pillars of starfish at low tide on Bandon Beach in Oregon

Elaborate sand labyrinth on Bandon Beach made often times by a fellow named Denny Dyke are striking and beautiful

Elaborate sand labyrinth on Bandon Beach made often times by a fellow named Denny Dyke are striking and beautiful

Elaborate sand labyrinth on Bandon Beach made often times by a fellow named Denny Dyke are striking and beautiful

Elaborate sand labyrinth on Bandon Beach made often times by a fellow named Denny Dyke are striking and beautiful

A seal pup seems to have stranded itself on the beach

A seal pup seems to have stranded itself on the beach

Monique loves birds, so she spent most of her time photographing the loud oyster catchers that roamed the shoreline

Monique loves birds, so she spent most of her time photographing the loud oyster catchers that roamed the shoreline

The surfing looked decent, though we only saw a few people out. Probably have to know where the rocks are

The surfing looked decent, though we only saw a few people out. Probably have to know where the rocks are

Overview of Bandon Beach Oregon

Overview of Bandon Beach Oregon

Horse riding is a popular activity along this giant beach at low tide. We just missed them, but caught their tracks heading into the sunrise

Horse riding is a popular activity along this giant stretch of beach at low tide. We just missed them, but caught their tracks heading into the sunrise

The unique rock structures along Bandon Beach all have names. The Face rock is to the left, Cat and Kittens rocks are just below the setting sun.

The unique rock structures along Bandon Beach all have names. The Face rock is to the left, Cat and Kittens rocks are just below the setting sun.

Face rock at sunset on Bandon Beach. Really looks like a face on the side.

Face rock at sunset on Bandon Beach. Really looks like a face on the side.

Bandon Beach sunset

The rock formations along Bandon Beach are really some of the most scenic. We stayed for a couple of days hoping for an epic sunset, but mostly just got clear skies and wind.

The rock formations along Bandon Beach are really some of the most scenic. We stayed for a couple of days hoping for an epic sunset, but mostly just got clear skies and wind.

The sun shining through the rocks at sunset creates great texture.

The sun shining through the rocks at sunset creates great texture.

The wind really kicked up the waves.

The wind really kicked up the waves.

Bandon Beach sunset

The Coquille river historic lighthouse near Bandon Beach. This was just outside of our campground at Bullards Beach, from which we accessed Bandon Beach and the surrounding area.

The Coquille river historic lighthouse near Bandon Beach. This was just outside of our campground at Bullards Beach, from which we accessed Bandon Beach and the surrounding area.

If you want to climb to the top of the Coquille river lighthouse, wear closed toed shoes or they won

If you want to climb to the top of the Coquille river lighthouse, wear closed toed shoes or they won’t let you up.

Monique at the top of the Coquille River lighthouse.

Monique at the top of the Coquille River lighthouse.

Along highway 38 near Reedsport is the Dean Creek elk viewing area. A quick stop along the road on the way to or from Bandon and you can get up close with the cud-chewing little buggers.

Along highway 38 near Reedsport is the Dean Creek elk viewing area. A quick stop along the road on the way to or from Bandon and you can get up close with the cud-chewing little buggers.

More elk

More elk

Heceta Head lighthouse is one of the more picturesque lighthouses along the coast. Unfortunately the timing was such they we just were passing by about noon. Worth a stop if your spending more time along the southern Oregon coast than we had

Heceta Head lighthouse is one of the more picturesque lighthouses along the coast. Unfortunately the timing was such that we were passing by about noon. Worth a stop if your spending more time along the southern Oregon coast than we had.

After a couple of days in Bandon, we gave ourselves one day to make Thor’s well, then one more day to make Cannon Beach. Thor’s well kinda pissed me off, but I have learned by it. There are some famous and amazing pictures of it on the internet, and that was what originally caught my eye, and apparently several hundred other people’s eyes as well. Here is the bottom line. If you want a picture like you saw online, you need to have a combination of a very high tide, or moderate high tide with rough seas, AND a cool sunset or sunrise. The timing of our trip was such that low tides were hitting at sunrise and near sunset, so the stop at Thor’s well was a bit of a waste for me. Also, to really get dramatic water pouring into the well, the seas are such that you are near to risking your life. Seriously! If you want the water high enough that it covers the plateau and drains beautifully into the well, then every 10th wave or so is going to come up to your knees at least, if not your waist.

Rainbow from sea spray at Cooks Chasm

Rainbow from sea spray at Cooks Chasm

Thor

Thor’s well was something I was really looking forward to, and probably the biggest disappointment of the whole trip. It is located near Cooks Chasm, and the closest campground is Beach Side State Recreation area. We hit it at sunset with seas of 7.9ft and calm winds. In order for this to work, I think you need rough seas at this level to really blast the waves up through the well, or tide of at least 8.9 feet. Also a sunset would help. I only had one evening here and it was grey and flat. Probably the biggest pain in the ass were all the other photographers and iphone fanatics huddled around the thing. For me, if I go back, it will be in the middle of a freezing winter storm at sunrise. Maybe that will cut down on the traffic. But honestly, if you want to get a good picture here the seas have to be near the point that they will risk sucking you into the thing. So be prepared and don’t be an idiot.

Monique

Monique’s iphone photo of the “crowd” at Thor’s well.

After over-nighting at the Beach Side State Recreation area near Thor’s well, we headed up to Cannon Beach. That was a mistake! There are two awesome areas between Thor’s well and Cannon beach that should merit at least an overnight. The first is the Newport area. This includes the town of Newport, with its cool, working docks and historic downtown. Don’t miss the Cioppino! Also the Yaquina Bay bridge heading out of Newport is very scenic, and finally the Yaquina head and Yaquina Bay lighthouses are worth waiting for some decent light. The Yaquina Head lighthouse has some amazing tide pools at low tide, and one of the largest colonies of Common Murre seabirds on the coast.

Newport has a cool downtown that is still has several working fish packing plants. If you want some seafood, this is your stop.

Newport has a cool downtown that still has several working fish packing plants. If you want some seafood, this is your stop.

Newport pier

Newport pier

Newport has a cool downtown that is still has several working fish packing plants. If you want some seafood, this is your stop.

Newport has a cool downtown that still has several working fish packing plants. If you want some seafood, this is your stop.

Moving out of Newport you cross the picturesque Yaquina Bay Bridge. Again, we had not budgeted to stop here, but should have for a day. There is lots to see and the cool low tide and sand formations under the bridge probably would have looked better at sunset.

Moving out of Newport you cross the picturesque Yaquina Bay Bridge. Again, we had not budgeted to stop here, but should have for a day.

yaquina bay bridge

Just across the bridge is the Yaquina head lighthouse. Since it was still low tide, we decided to check out the remarkable tide pools just below. If I were doing this trip again, I would budget a day or two around Newport to try and get some nice light on the lighthouse here and have a variety of tides to work with.

Just across the bridge is the Yaquina Head lighthouse. Since it was still low tide, we decided to check out the remarkable tide pools just below. If I were doing this trip again, I would budget a day or two around Newport to try and get some nice light on the lighthouse here and have a variety of tides to work with.

yaquina head tide pools

Just off-shore from the Yaquina Head lighthouse is one of the largest seabird colonies in the area.

Just off-shore from the Yaquina Head lighthouse is one of the largest Common Murre colonies in the area.

Just off-shore from the Yaquina Head lighthouse is one of the largest seabird colonies in the area.

Just off-shore from the Yaquina Head lighthouse is one of the largest Common Murre colonies in the area.

Monique

Monique’s iphone photo of some cool rocks at one of the many beach stops up the oregon coast.

After exploring around Newport, we decided to have dinner at the Pelican Bay brewery right on the beach in Pacific City, a surf town next to the Cape Kiwanda state nature area. One of the main features of the town is a giant rock, called Haystack, that is every bit as impressive as the one that drew me to Cannon Beach, but without all the crowds. In addition to that, the Cape Kiwanda state nature area has some of the most scenic coastline we came across. If we hadn’t already paid for our sites in Cannon Beach, we would have parked it here for a couple of days and made better pictures.

We made Pacific City and Cape Kiwanda near sunset. Again, our destination was farther north, and again, probably a mistake as the Cape Kiwanda area has some of the most scenic coastline I came across. Here a surfer slices in front of the Haystack rock as seen from the patio of the Pelican Bay brewery while drinking a beer. Now where else can you get a shot like this from your seat while drinking a local brew?

We made Pacific City and Cape Kiwanda near sunset. Again, our destination was farther north, and again, probably a mistake as the Cape Kiwanda area has some of the most scenic coastline I came across. Here a surfer slices in front of the Haystack rock as seen from the patio of the Pelican Bay brewery while drinking a beer. Now where else can you get a shot like this from your seat while drinking a local brew?

Looking back at the Pelican Bay brewery on the beach in Pacific City as seen from the Cape Kiwanda park area

Looking back at the Pelican Bay brewery on the beach in Pacific City as seen from the Cape Kiwanda park area

Cape Kiwanda park has some of the most rugged coastline. We didn

Cape Kiwanda park has some of the most rugged coastline. We didn’t expect to see this as we took our post-beer stroll. I really wish I had packed my tripod and 10-stop ND filter for some crazy slow shutter seascapes.

The seas were rough and beautiful along the Cape Kiwanda coast. Certainly worth an extra day.

The seas were rough and beautiful along the Cape Kiwanda coast. Certainly worth an extra day.

The seas were rough and beautiful along the Cape Kiwanda coast. Certainly worth an extra day.

The seas were rough and beautiful along the Cape Kiwanda coast. Certainly worth an extra day.

Me waiting for a big one and trying not to fall in. Tripod mandatory next time.

Me waiting for a big one and trying not to fall in. Tripod mandatory next time.

A pulled back look at the coast from the sand dunes in the Cape Kiwanda park area.

A pulled back look at the coast from the sand dunes in the Cape Kiwanda park area.

haystack rock from Cape Kiwanda park

Monique’s picture of Haystack rock from Cape Kiwanda park

Haystack rock as seen from Cape Kiwanda park. We never really got lucky with our sunsets. All muted colors and no fire.

Haystack rock as seen from Cape Kiwanda park. We never really got lucky with our sunsets. All muted colors and no fire.

Since it was getting dark, we couldn’t stop by the Tillamook factory and pick up any cheese, but the Tillamook Rock lighthouse is just south of Cannon Beach.

The Tillamook rock lighthouse is about a mile off shore.

The Tillamook rock lighthouse is about a mile off shore.

Cannon Beach proper was a bit crowded and built up for my tastes. The giant haystack rock that you see in so many pictures is packed with people milling about, though there is a large nesting Puffin colony there and Monique saw her first Puffin bird in the wild and was really excited about that. The Ecola state park just north of town has a lot of nice exploring to offer. The town of Cannon Beach itself has a hidden gem in Bills Tavern and Brew House. Small, local and not pretentious, this place had some of the best beer I tasted on the whole trip. I started with a seasonal Spruce Tip ale, brewed making a kind of tea out of the fresh budding spruce tips of the area. I expected it to taste piney, or pitchey, but somehow in the brewing process, the spruce tips imparted a light, but indescribably citrus finish that really went well with the hoppy ale. I am not a fan of fruity beers, but since we budgeted two days here, and I was visually underwhelmed (and it  was flat, grey and raining both days) I literally spent almost the entire next day happily sipping Spruce Ale and chatting with the locals while Monique explored some of the many antique shops in the area. Another favorite beer was the Sleepy Monk Coffee Stout. Nothing sleepy about it!

mmmmm, spruce ale!

mmmmm, spruce ale!

Some of the fine beer

Some of the fine beer’s at Bill’s Tavern and Brew House in Cannon Beach

Our destination, and the reason why we passed through such amazing places as Yaquina Head and Cape Kiwanda, was Cannon beach, near the washington border. I was originally attracted to its large haystack rock, but in reality, this place is loaded with hotels and over-crowded compared to so much of the rest of the coast.

Our destination, and the reason why we passed through such amazing places as Yaquina Head and Cape Kiwanda, was Cannon beach, near the washington border. I was originally attracted to its large haystack rock, but in reality, this place is loaded with hotels and over-crowded compared to so much of the rest of the coast.

 

Monique iphone photo of gull footprints at Cannon Beach

Monique iphone photo of gull footprints at Cannon Beach

sady vacation

Cannon beach does of some nice sand dunes just north where you can escape from the crowds. Basically, it seemed that all the visitors clot around the haystack rock.

Cannon beach does have some nice sand dunes just north where you can escape from the crowds. Basically, it seemed that all the visitors clot around the haystack rock.

More Cannon beach sand dunes

More Cannon beach sand dunes

sady vacation

Ecola point state park butts up against Cannon beach and offers some nice hiking and exploring.

Ecola point state park butts up against Cannon beach and offers some nice hiking and exploring.

Ecola point state park

Ecola point state park

Overview looking back at Cannon beach from Ecola Point state park.

Overview looking back at Cannon beach from Ecola Point state park.

A panoramic shot from monique

A panoramic shot from monique’s iphone inside our Aliner.

 

February 23, 2014 - 9:55 am

Edward Doty - Scott: Love your photographs in general and your travel photographs for you travel along the Pacific coast with your Aliner in particular
.
I and my wife, Chris, are avid nature photographer, and have just bought/ordered an Aliner for travels as we transition into retirement. Your photos have raised my interest in getting back to the Oregon and Washiingtoncoasts, where I used to hang out during my graduate school areas.

Please continue with your travel blog and incredible photography, which I plan to follow as I plan my futre travels.

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