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Storm Watching in the Pacific Northwest

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Haystack Rock

More often than not, the things that terrify us are the very same things that fascinate us. Do you like scary movies? Have you visited a haunted house? Ever ridden a rollercoaster that made you shriek, only to do it again? If you said yes to any of these questions you can probably understand why, to most people, a storm is great entertainment.

November through February is peak storm season along the Pacific coastline of the northwest United States and has become a tourist draw. As the raw power and energy of the winter storms meet the coastlines storm enthusiasts stand captivated as twenty to thirty foot waves explode against impossibly steep cliffs, shooting water straight up into the air. The inspiring display of nature's power often captivates the imagination, energize the spirit, and produce a temporary reprieve from the daily pressures of everyday life.

One of the best places to view the storms is along the Oregon Coast. With its many lookout points along the shoreline, it's easy to see why it's such a hotspot for storm watching - especially for RVers on the move. Let's take a look at some great places to view the storms.

Boiler Bay State Viewpoint

At Boiler State Viewpoint you can catch views of the ocean from three different locations, all with distinct vantage points. Take a look to the south and you'll catch views of massive waves crashing down upon rocky structures. If you look straight out towards the sea there's a fenced area which will lead you out toward the tip of the viewpoint, but it is quite gusty. Don't be surprised if you get pushed around by the wind. To the north, there's a cove-like area, with views of rocky slabs where stormy waves do incredible acrobatic acts. Also, from here you can watch waves sail into Boiler Bay State Park and work their wintry magic.

Yachats

Rough and craggy lava structures line the shore here, making storm watching quite a spectacle. If you choose to watch the waves here be sure to stay up on the crest above the rocky beaches as storms can toss major logs onto the area. During heavy storms the shoreline becomes covered with logs. For great views take the road behind downtown Yachats that runs along the shore, starting at the Recreation Area, just behind Yachats River House Restaurant. The road provides picture-worthy views of the ocean.

Smelt Sands State Park

Smelt Sands State Park offers excellent vantage points. For safety reasons you should stick to the higher spots and avoid the paved pathway. Smelt Sands State Park is on the northern end of town (Yachats).

The Devil's Churn

To the south of downtown Yachats is Devil's Churn, another great spot to take in views of an angry Pacific. The highlight of Devil's Churn is a long crevice that stretches about 100 feet, which is on the receiving end of the ocean's raw energy, and creates an awe inspiring explosion.

Cape Meares

South of Cannon Beach

If you head a few miles south of Cannon Beach you'll come to a couple of pullouts that feature mind blowing views. The northern pullout is the largest, and the second pullout, which is only 3/10's of a mile away, offers inspiring views of interesting vertical rock columns offshore.

Continue down the road for a few more miles, between Oswald West State Park and Manzanita, and you'll come upon the viewpoint and trailhead above Short Sand Beach (Smuggler's Cove) and the viewpoints beneath Neahkahnie Mountain. Any of the viewpoints along this route are worthy of your time, as they offer panoramic views of the Pacific and a rocky cliff backdrop.

Stay Safe

While watching storms is enjoyable, dangers are always present. To stay safe be sure to follow these simple tips:

  • Stay off driftwood piles
  • Never turn your back to the ocean
  • Stay out of the water

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