Haystack Rock Awareness Program with Stephen Grace Announces New Tides & Tours Dates!
The Haystack Rock Awareness Program (HRAP) announces new dates for private guided tide-pool tours with award-winning author, filmmaker, photographer and intertidal enthusiast Stephen Grace.
The Haystack Rock Awareness Program is entering its 32nd season on the beach. The program’s mission is to protect, through education, the intertidal and bird ecology of the Marine Garden and National Wildlife Refuge at Haystack Rock. Having educated over one million visitors, HRAP aims to provide sustainability-focused educational opportunities to a wide range of Cannon Beach visitors.
Tours led by Stephen Grace, author of books such as Dam Nation: How Water Shaped the West and Will Determine Its Future, provide an exploration of our ocean’s edge unlike any other experience HRAP has previously been able to offer. Participants in these small group tours will benefit from Stephen Grace’s unique combination of scientific knowledge and expansive storytelling skills, which he combines in a compelling exploration of Cannon Beach’s ecological jewel: a dynamic coastline teeming with wondrous creatures.
Participants should prepare to immerse themselves in the elements (dressing for all types of weather) as they venture down to the shore from Cannon Beach City Hall. Tours cost $25 per person, are capped at 10 participants, and last approximately an hour and a half.
Private tours with Stephen Grace to Haystack Rock, or to other intertidal areas, are also offered at $40 per person, or $35 per person with groups larger than 3 explorers.
April and May tour dates:
Monday, May 1 at 10:00 AM
Sunday, May 14 at 8:30 AM
Friday, May 26 at 7:00 AM
Sunday May 28 at 8:30 AM
Monday, May 29 at 9:00 AM
For more information, or to schedule your tour, please visit Haystack Rock Awareness Program website here or contact Melissa Keyser, Haystack Rock Awareness Program Coordinator, at 503-436-8060, HRAP@ci.cannon-beach.or.us or Steve Grace at 720-938-8289, firstname.lastname@example.org
National Geographic Magazine named Cannon Beach “one of The World’s 100 Most Beautiful Places” in their June 2013 issue, and “one of the 21 most beautiful beaches” in a 2016 issue. That comes as no surprise to those who have experienced the miles of scenic sandy beach with dramatic shoreline rock formations like Haystack Rock. Cannon Beach offers 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. In addition to the unbeatable view from the beach, Cannon Beach offers easy access to several great viewpoints and natural areas, like nearby Ecola State Park with its unforgettable vistas, to enjoy the stunning scenery of the Oregon Coast.
Just steps from downtown Cannon Beach are breathtakingly beautiful beaches and just a few minutes away are some of the best viewpoints and natural areas on the Oregon Coast. You’ll encounter dramatic rock formations, stunning beaches, lush rainforest, waterfalls and unforgettable State Parks. Here are some of the don’t miss spots for great sightseeing during your Cannon Beach visit:
The Beach & Haystack Rock: Nearly four miles of a sandy beach stretch out north and south of downtown Cannon Beach with Oregon’s iconic Haystack Rock sitting approximately midway on this scenic paradise. Venture further and you’ll find more beaches and dramatic rock formations that have made the Oregon Coast famous for its dramatic landscapes.
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 tide pools. 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.
Small Beach Town Charm: While the scenic surroundings are the number one attraction, Cannon Beach also offers the quintessential small beach town experience on the Oregon Coast. Wander the picturesque sidewalks and courtyards of downtown Cannon Beach to discover art galleries, specialty shops, restaurants and public art. Cannon Beach is easy and enjoyable to explore on foot.
The Best Time for Gray Whales: December, January and March to June
Gray whales (baleen whales) are the most common seen in Oregon, these are whales migrating from feeding grounds in the Bering and Chukchi seas around Alaska from mid-December through January and heading to breeding grounds in Baja California, Mexico. On the trip South they stay about five miles offshore. At peak times about 30 whales pass hourly. The warm water lagoons in Mexico become nurseries for the expectant mothers. From March to June the whales migrate North back to Alaska at a much slower pace. It is not unusual for whales to be seen a half-mile off shore. On each trip, approximately 18,000 gray whales pass close to the Oregon Coast. Around 200 gray whales remain along the Oregon Coast between June and November where the food supply will support them.
These tips will help you spot the whales as they pass by each way:
Keeping the sun at your back is best
Locate whale spouts with naked eyes, then use binoculars
Charter a whale-watching boat
Charter an airplane or helicopter
Whale watching on calmer days are best
The best locations near Cannon Beach to spot whales:
Ecola State Park, Cannon Beach
Neahkahnie Mountain Historic Marker Turnout, Highway 101, just South of Cannon Beach
Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint
Whale Watching by Sea and Air:
- Charter boats
Linda Sue III Charters & Troller, Rockaway Beach, 503-355-3419
D&D Charters (spring through fall), Garibaldi, 800-900-HOOK (4665)
- Plane. Most flights carry one to three passengers. Rates vary, reservations are recommended but not always required. Call for details. All flights are weather dependent.
Twiss Air Service/Astoria Flight Center, one to three passengers, Astoria 503-861-1222
Tillamook Air Tours, one to four passengers, 503-842-1942
1941, the spectacular, big-budget comedy film, directed by none other than Steven Spielberg, which takes place in the year 1941. Do you know that the opening scene, which is supposed to happen on the Northern California Coast, was in fact shot in Cannon Beach and shows the famous Haystack Rock, as well as Ecola Park!
We all cried at the end of Free Willy, whether we saw it back in the 1990s or more recently for old-time’s sake. But did you know it was filmed here in Oregon? The classic scene when the famous orca whale jumps to his freedom over the breakwater happened at the Hammond Marina, a 20-minute drive west of downtown Astoria in Hammond, at the northwestern tip of the state.
The Free Willy site is one of more than a dozen famous film locations in Astoria that can easily be toured in a day, rain or shine. It’s a lot more than just The Goonies, the cult classic that put Astoria on the map back in 1985 and is celebrated each year on the town’s official Goonies Day, June 7 (Note that the Oregon Governor’s Office of Film & Television has closed off public access to the iconic white house from “The Goonies” due to vandalism and trespassing.)
Taking a self-guided tour of the film sites—both memorable and obscure—is a great way to spend the day on a nostalgia trip. Note that The Goonies was also filmed in Cannon Beach (Haystack Rock and Ecola State Park.)
Start at the Oregon Film Museum to grab a map of scene locations and explore the production behind the crop of films made in Oregon, often referred to as “Hollywood North.” Housed in the historic Clatsop County Jail, it’s the site of the famous jailbreak in The Goonies, as well as scenes from Come See the Paradise (1990) and Short Circuit (1986).
From this site you can also see the Flavel House, where Mr. Walsh works in The Goonies. The house-turned-museum is filled with period furnishings and artwork that celebrates the life of Captain George Flavel, one of Astoria’s most influential citizens in the 1800s.
The iconic 125-foot Astoria Column—the city’s proudest landmark—is pictured in nearly all of the films shot here, including Kindergarten Cop (1990) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (1993), as well as The Goonies, Free Willy and Short Circuit. Visitors can climb the 164 steps of the spiral staircase to a viewing deck 600 feet above sea level for a panoramic view of the lower Columbia area.
The 4.1 miles long Astoria Bridge is another defining shot for classics made-in-Astoria movies. Connecting Oregon to Washington across the mouth of the Columbia River, the span is the longest continuous truss bridge in North America. Pedestrians are allowed on the bridge just one day per year, during the Great Columbia Crossing.
True film buffs will want to hunt down the more obscure movie scenes too, like the medical supply store that doubled as Naomi Watts’ newspaper office from The Ring Two, and the house where Ally Sheedy’s character meets robot Number Five in Short Circuit.
The kids will also appreciate a trip to Youngs River Falls, eight miles south of downtown, where the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fought a clan of Japanese warriors when they traveled back in time in TMNT 3.
Traverse rainforest, discover picture-perfect ocean views or trek through an otherworldly landscape of seemingly endless giant sand dunes. Hikers will discover astonishing opportunities to explore the natural wonders of the Oregon Coast on trails in state parks from one end of the state to the other.
There are many options, but for hikers who want to explore the entire length of Oregon’s coastline in a single trip, I offer the following hiking itinerary. Most of these locations are easily accessible and offer rewarding hikes that can be completed in a few hours. I’ve mixed in a few other must-stop locations and suggest you plan on at least two weeks to do the entire length of the Oregon Coast and do justice to the remarkable terrain you will discover.
Get outside! What better way to dust off your sense of adventure than a road trip down U.S. Highway 101? With 363 miles of outdoor family fun, there are many opportunities to explore the Oregon Coast for those of all ages.
Fort Clatsop commemorates the 1805-06 winter encampment of the 33-member Lewis and Clark Expedition. A 1955 community-built replica of the explorers’ 50’x50’ Fort Clatsop is the focus of the park. The fort, historic canoe landing and spring are nestled in the coastal forests and wetlands of the Coast Range as it merges with the Columbia River Estuary. There are approximately 2 miles of hiking trails, through woodlands, available.
Even though the replica fort was destroyed in a fire in the fall of 2005, the site continues to be open. The visitor center, expanded museum store, newly renovated theater, brand new orientation film, new 6.5-mile Fort to Sea Trail and new 1 mile Netul River Trail are all available to the public in addition to visiting the fort site.
With Victorian-era homes etched into hills overlooking the Columbia River, this picturesque settlement (the oldest west of the Rockies) is a port city with Scandinavian flavor. Surrounded by forests, boasting three rivers and situated a stone’s throw away from the Pacific, Astoria is fishing village-meets-Victoriana, chockablock with forts, museums and great local brews.
Astoria’s Columbia River Maritime Museum: Discover the stories of the legendary Columbia River Bar, one of the most dangerous passages in the world, at the nationally renowned Columbia River Maritime Museum.
Fort Stevens State Park: There’s so much to do here, you’ll want to plan on most of a day just for this stop alone. Take the kids to all the good hiding and climbing spots on the Battery Russell, to the South Jetty viewpoint to see where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean, and to the sandy beach to see the Peter Iredale shipwreck. You can also camp here—there are tent sites and yurts available (yurt sites fill up quickly, so reserve well in advance).