Updated: Dec 9, 2020
What is one thing that we do we we can go on road trips across the country again? We can once again go on road trips travelling the country in Canada or the US, or any country in the world. From Vancouver or Seattle, take Highway 101 to explore some of the West Coasts most stunning scenery along the Oregon Coast. Going a a summer day is preferable to autumn or spring, however each season has it’s delicacies and intricacies. If you ever wanted to do a West Coast Roadtrip, look no further than the Oregon Coast and plan for after the pandemic.From your starting point at Vancouver or Seattle, head down Highway 101 to explore several oceans cities such as Astoria, Seaside,Florence and Cannon Beach.Plan for a trip of relaxation along the oceanside breezes and watching glimpses of wildlife and nature all over.
1. Astoria - Let one of your first destinations on your trip to be Astoria, a small Oregon town with a rich history with a background in maritime affairs.Be sure to stop at Astoria, the mouth of the Columbia River and explore the shipwreck remains and the famous Astoria Column.The 125 foot tall Astoria Column towers over the city from its vantage point on Coxcomb Hill and you can even see that the exterior of the tower illustrates significant events from the history of Oregon. Inside a staircase with 164 steps leads to the tower’s observation deck which offers panoramic views of the Columbia River. Although I didn't get a chance to go to the top of the observation deck,even standing at the ground high up from the mainland I got a change to see the panoramic views over Astoria. This attraction charges a entrance fee of around $5 so be aware and parking is usually abundant.
2. Smith Rock
One of the seven wonders of Oregon, Smith Rock is located in Oregon’s High Desert and ideal for rock climbers and hikers alike. Portions of Smith Rock where formed by a volcanic formation 30 million years ago and later by the Crooked River in recent history to give it it's distinct shape. There are many established trails available that overlook Crooked River and several dozen rock formations and stops for you if you want to take a break along the many trails. Along the way, there are many opportunities for photo-ops of the volcanic rock formations. There is a now an entrance fee and weekends are largely to be avoided because of high crowds. If you have been to west coast hikes in Vancouver and Seattle, it more resembles the hikes of the Grand Canyon sort because of the geology of the rock formations. Many hikes can be completed in a couple hours to half a day and offer views of sweeping mountain platforms.
Florence is a small city on the coast of Oregon home to the Steller Sea Lions and trails of the lighthouse offer views of seabirds and migrating whales. Be sure to catch some views of the oceanside on the beach and stop for a quick snack or bite on your way to Cannon Beach and Oregon Dune National Park.
2. Cannon Beach
Cannon Beach is one of the most scenic beaches on Oregon’s 101 Highway. From miles away, you can see the clouds light up the sky on clear day. It is rated as one of the 100 most beautiful places to see in the world and is a must see for your bucket list. The walk to Cannon Beach is a bit of a walk however, you have to walk from the parking lot of the nearby store as road side parking is not that convenient. Then you descend down some stairs to finally reach Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach. Haystack Rock is one of Oregon’s most recognizable landmarks and you can walk right up the stand to the rock to experience the ocean and ocean life at its finest. Seabirds, seastars and other marine life accompany this serene location, with sunsets and summer days best for stargazing and enjoying nature at its finest. The beach can be quite breezy even in the summer and late spring because of the ocean wind, so make sure to dress in layers and for changing weather conditions.
3.Hood River & Columbia Cliff Villas Hotel
The town of Hood river is a nice resting place to stop at a nearby hotel and take in the panoramic crosswords of the Columbia River Gorge and Cascade Range. A secret recommendation is to stay at the Columbia Cliff Villas Hotel as it is located right next to the Columbia river. When I was there, the cherry blossoms where in full spring and the scenery is indescribable. The nearby Columbia Gorge Hotel and Spa is also an excellent choice for weddings, dining and spa getaways. Another recommendation is the restaurant at Simon’s Cliffhouse, as it offers an elegant dining option for patrons.
4. Painted Hills
Aside from Smith Rock and Cannon Beach, the Painted Hills should be the highlight of your Oregon trip.The Painted Hills are also one of the 7 wonders of Oregon and offer coloured elaborate multi-colour stratifications as the soil contains traces of yellow, gold, and a taint of red that are best seen in the afternoon. The history of the hills starts over 35 million years ago, when the climate changed and a series of volcanic eruptions transformed the landscape. Be sure to traverse the trails available and read information about the formations of the rocks that are posted on trail markers. If your lucky, you might even see a rainbow like I did. The drive into the Painted Hills can be quite a long drive, and remember that the road can be dusty and long-winding, so be prepared for your car to get a little dirty. The best experience of the painted hills is after a fresh rainfall, especially in the springtime, which then a rainbow often shows up if your lucky.
Chelsea Reviews: 4/5
The Oregon Coast may not have as many well-known wineries such as the California Coast, but what it lacks in commerciality it offers in serene beauty and untainted natural beauty. From the natural sea-life creatures at Cannon Beach and and magnificent volcanic creations at Smith Rock and The Painted Hills, the Oregon Coast is one of the must see Roadtrips to put on your bucket list.This road trip is best explored on a summer weekend to experience the beauty of all the attractions, but every season offers it’s own hidden beauties and gems. Exploring Cannon Beach and Painted Hills are a both great ideas for a weekend getaway from the hustle and bustle of Portland or Seattle. Come to Seattle and Portland for the food and culture, but getaway from city life to the oceanside to experience how life should really be lived - along the beaches sipping a cocktail and listening to the ocean waves.