Oregon Coast (Astoria to Tillamook), USA

March 28, 2014

The Oregon Coast is one of those places that can take forever to fully explore.

Due to time limitations this trip started at the northernmost point, the City of Astoria and ended at Tillamook

City of Astoria

Astoria is a port of call for cruise ships since 1982, after $10 million in pier improvements to accommodate cruise ships. To avoid Mexican ports of call during the Swine Flu outbreak of 2009, many cruises were re-routed to include Astoria. 

Haystack Rock

40 kms south of Astoria is Cannon Beach, and from there it is a short walk to Haystack Rock, a 72-meter sea stack.

A sea stack is a steep and often vertical column of rock in the sea near a coast, formed by erosion.

"The Needles" which are adjacent to Haystack Rock

The place can be reached by foot during low tide, and the rock tide pools are home to many intertidal animals, such as starfish, sea anemone, crabs, chiltons, limpets and sea slugs.

Sea anemone

Many people each year become temporarily trapped on Haystack Rock when high tide engulfs the rock in water, necessitating rescue by the United States Coast Guard or local authorities.

United States Coast Guard Truck

Oregon's beaches are publicly owned, and there are several hotels along the beachfront within walking distance of Haystack Rock, making the area congested with tourists during the high season (May through September).

16 km south of the city of Cannon Beach is Oswald West State Park. Legend claims pirate treasure is buried near this place but has never been found.

Oswald West State Park

Here you can find a perfect example of a temperate rain forest. These forests have an annual precipitacion over 140 cm and a mean annual temperature between 4 and 12 °C

Low-growing ferns, salal and salmonberry are shaded by massive western red cedar, western hemlock and Sitka Spruce trees that form the basis of the temperate coastal rainforest ecosystem of the Northwest.

Keep driving south and the opportunities to stop along the highway never stop.

Marine ecology of the Oregon Coast is some of the most diverse in the world and for this trip I paid particular attention to the tidepools contained ecosystems.

Sea anemones

Sea anemones are attached at the bottom to the surface beneath it by an adhesive foot. The mouth, which is also the anus of the sea anemone, is in the middle of the oral disc surrounded by tentacles.

Cluster of Nucella Lamellosa

Red, green, and brown algae are common sights. Same goes with sea snails.

I saw large concentrations of nucella lamellosa, a small predatory sea snail with a peculiar ability to vary so much in shape, color and texture from one individual to the next which makes it very hard to key out.

Nucella Lamellosa

You can recognize it because the shell is not highly polished, the spiral scuplture consists of 1 or 2 prominent ridges on each whorl and the whorls are flattened near the sutures, making them appear angled. Also this snail shell doesn't grow more than 50 mm high, while other Nucella rarely exceed 3 cm in lenght.

Tillamook Cheese Factory - Entrance

The trip ended at Tillamook. Tillamook is named for the Tillamook people, a Native American tribe speaking a Salishan language who lived in this area until the early nineteenth century.  

Tillamook Cheese Factory

Perhaps the most popular city's attraction is Tillamook Cheese Factory. A self-guide tour lets you overlook the packaging floor and give you lots of information and history of the factory and surrounding area.

There is a small shop where you can buy ice cream and cheese, but before buying you can make your mind by trying the free samples.  

Driving distance from Vancouver to Astoria
517 km (5 hours 30 minutes)