Famous for dramatic ocean views and powerful storms rolling in off of the Pacific Ocean, the North Oregon Coast is one of the nation’s best locations to experience in climate weather. Iconic sea stacks rise up above the crashing waves, providing scale and dramatic scenery through the wind and the rain. For those of us that call the region home, watching these storms is one of the many perks of life in Clatsop County. Our backyard is also the destination of visitors from around the region, as heading to the coast for a storm is a quintessential Pacific Northwest activity, giving an insight to the raw power and wild beauty of Oregon’s coast.
Next time there is a storm barreling down on the region, consider heading out to the Oregon Coast for a timeless adventure. There are numerous destinations from which to watch the power of the Pacific’s storms, but we have highlighted a few favorites, giving you fantastic views, great food options and beautiful lodging opportunities. Remember to review the safety tips from our coastal friends up in Grays Harbor, Washington before you head out to watch a storm along the coast.
1. Ecola State Park
This ridiculously beautiful state park near Cannon Beach is quite possibly the most visited and known stretch of coast in Northern Oregon. Stretching nine miles along the rugged Pacific Coast, Ecola State Park offers breathtaking vistas on stormy days, showing off the pounding waves against the rocky cliffs of the region. Aside from the stunning scenes that play out while storm watching, you’ll have relative solitude in this normally crowded area. For those hoping for a hike for fantastic views, take the trail to Tillamook Head for a saturated and soggy trek. If hiking is too crazy, consider a short trek in the park before driving to Cannon Beach and enjoying the storm from the lowlands. For a great place to stay here, check out the always-gorgeous Ocean Lodge, located right along the beach. Food wise, Cannon Beach has plenty of options to warm up after a cold day in the wind and rain.
2. Fort Stevens State Park
Home to a shipwreck and access to the true mouth of the Columbia River, Fort Stevens State Park is yet another iconic destination for storm watchers on the Oregon Coast. The highlight for many, the wreck of the Peter Iredale, is often a bit of a jaunt for a stormy day. Combining this hike in the inclement weather with the observation platform in the northwest corner of the park will make for an incredible day. The state park has cozy cabins and yurts to rent for a night or two, giving you a one-stop adventure in the wilds of the Oregon Coast. It doesn’t get much better than experiencing a storm in a wood cabin or yurt. The park is also close to Astoria, letting you feast on the always-delicious fish and chips found at Bowpicker. If you haven’t had a meal from this boat/food cart, you are missing out.
3. Hug Point
Yet another absolutely stunning coastal section that somehow feels cozy and rugged, Hug Point is a fantastic place to watch storms and then explore during low tide. Highlighted by a small waterfall flowing to the beach, seeing the crashing waves slam against the rocks and cliffs here is an amazing experience. Located just five miles south of Cannon Beach — meaning that you are close to numerous food options — this destination is often overlooked during the winter months, giving you access to relative solitude and beauty. While small, the Hug Point State Recreation Area is an ideal place to go if you don’t want to walk too much for a stunning scene of breaking waves. For a romantic getaway, stay at the Arch Cape Inn, which offers great views in a unique building.
4. Cape Kiwanda
Cape Kiwanda is 63 miles from Cannon Beach and out of Clatsop County, but the extra drive is totally worth it on a stormy day. With some of the most dramatic sea stacks along the Oregon Coast, the waves here are intense, giving you unrivaled views of storm swells and crashing waves. Part of the Three Capes Scenic Route, Cape Kiwanda has some of the best viewpoints along the Oregon Coast. If you can only go to one place to watch a storm, we highly recommend traveling south and checking out the sandstone cliffs at this State Natural Area. With spectacular wave action, make sure you get here on a stormy day a few hours before high tide to see the full force of the storm surge and wave action. For the best stay, consider a night or two at the Inn at Cape Kiwanda. With fireplaces and patios overlooking the ocean in every room, it is hard to stay someplace better than this along the coast. The Inn is also across the street from the Pelican Pub and Brewery, further solidifying this as the perfect spot for storm watching.