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Top Spots for Scenic Sightseeing In & Around Cannon Beach
Published: 02/08/2014
Rock formations along the Cannon Beach shoreline offer unparalleled views and are a habitat for a remarkable variety of marine and bird life.
Rock formations along the Cannon Beach shoreline offer unparalleled views and are a habitat for a remarkable variety of marine and bird life.
Photo by Gary Hayes

With Haystack Rock, long sandy stretches of beach and beautiful State Parks just minutes away, Cannon Beach can offer the perfect scenic Oregon Coast experience.

You'll be captivated by the beauty of Cannon Beach, its remarkable displays of nature and the unique character of this charming village by the sea known as one of the Northwest's top art towns and greatest escapes. Beautiful beaches graced by dramatic rock formations and stunning viewpoints of the coastline are just the beginning of what makes Cannon Beach one of the ultimate Oregon Coast experiences. Just steps from luxurious lodgings overlooking these scenic wonders, you'll discover colorful sea stars decorating rocks along the shoreline, herds of elk grazing in coastal meadows and observe puffins nesting on Haystack Rock. You may survey the scene from easily accessible panoramic viewpoints, set off on a scenic hike or just sink your feet in the sandy expanse and breathe. Life is good.


To those who know Cannon Beach, it was not a surprise when National Geographic Magazine named it as "one of the world's 100 most beautiful places" in their June 2013 issue. Cannon Beach offers miles of scenic sandy beach with dramatic offshore rock formations, the perfect setting for a refreshing stroll, a warm gathering around a beach fire or exploring the Oregon Coast's remarkable natural areas. There are dozens of public beach accesses that offer passage to this scenic wonderland, or you can enjoy the perfect panoramas from many viewpoints around Cannon Beach.

Haystack Rock & The Needles: Explore colorful tidepools, watch nesting puffins or photograph the sunset at Haystack Rock. Cannon Beach's world-famous landmark rises 235 feet at the edge of the shoreline. Just south of Haystack Rock are two rocky spires known as "The Needles." Haystack Rock lies midway on Cannon Beach's more than four miles of public beach. The most convenient beach access to Haystack Rock is a block west of the public parking lot at Gower Street in the town's Midtown area. This central stretch of beach is also easily accessed at the end of 2nd Street near downtown public parking areas or at the Tolovana Park wayside just two miles south of downtown. A beautiful beach walk of about a mile leads to Haystack Rock from either location.

Bird Rocks: Walk north to Chapman Point where large offshore rocks known as Bird Rocks are home to a dense colony of Common Murres that nest here from spring through midsummer. Bring your binoculars and you are sure to exclaim "wow" at the crowded life on the rocks. You may also see Bald Eagles who frequently prey on the nesting colony. This north-end beach is less crowded due to the watery boundary of Ecola Creek. When creek flow is low, waders can traverse the water. Otherwise, head to Les Shirley park on the north side of Ecola Creek where you will find public parking and beach access along the creek. Walk around the dune and head north to Chapman Point. Only the lowest tides of the year will enable you to proceed further to Crescent Beach.

Silver Point: At the south end of Cannon Beach, you'll find rock formations at Silver Point with tidepools and abundant bird life. Park at the Tolovana Park wayside and Silver Point is about a one-mile stroll south. When tide is low, you can continue another mile south along the beach to Arcadia Beach.


Besides the unbeatable view from the beach, Cannon Beach offers easy access to several great viewpoints and natural areas nearby to enjoy the stunning scenery of the Oregon Coast.

Ecola State Park: Just minutes from downtown Cannon Beach, Ecola State Park tops the not-to-be-missed list of viewpoints and recreation areas. A $5 State Parks day-use fee is required for parking and it's the best bargain of any attraction on the Oregon Coast.

Arcadia Beach: Located just two miles south of Cannon Beach is a picnic area and beach access at the Arcadia Beach State Recreation Site. The beach features rock ­formations and tidepools. Walk north to Silver Point or about a mile south to Hug Point.

Hug Point: About three miles south of Cannon Beach is Hug Point State Recreation Area. Hug Point features beach access and, at lower tides, you can walk north just around the point where you will find sea caves, a small waterfall and the remains of the old roadway that once hugged the cliff side. The roadway is one of the rare remnants from when the beach was the main thoroughfare before the construction of the Coast Highway. When tides allow, you can walk south from Hug Point a mile or more to the beach at Arch Cape.

Oswald West State Park: About ten minutes south of Cannon Beach, you enter Oswald West State Park. The park encompasses nearly 2,500 acres with several miles of hiking trails, including an easy trail to the beautiful cove of Short Sand Beach and sky-high scenic ocean viewpoints from highway turnouts on the edge of Neahkahnie Mountain. The main Oswald West State Park parking area offers easy access to shady picnic areas and walking paths.

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