Winter in Oregon often finds us indoors. But take a drive down to the Coos Bay, North Bend, and Charleston area and you’ll find that Mother Nature is doing anything but hibernating. Winter storms screaming in over the Pacific explode with unbridled power as they hammer against the rugged, cliff-laden shores.
Just a short drive west of Eugene, this area, known as Oregon’s Adventure Coast, is a wonderland for outdoor enthusiasts year-round. Wintertime ushers in a vibrant yet brooding familiar guest. Storm Watching here is the best on the Oregon Coast and is not to be missed.
The turbulent seas create a beautiful show that comes with encore after encore. Storm watching on Oregon’s Adventure Coast is an annual pilgrimage for those who know how majestic it is. It doesn’t matter how many times you have witnessed this gorgeous drama as storm and land engage, it’s always a singularly intimate experience.
January, February, and March are the best months to experience tempest fury. Stormy waves of 20 feet or more run headstrong into the towering cliffs of the Adventure Coast. This repetitive aggression has helped shape our rugged and world-renowned coastline.
Shore Acres State Park is often lauded as the best storm watching spot on the entire Oregon Coast. Perched on top of an 80-foot cliff, this location allows for a safe distance above the waves while enjoying fantastic vistas.
They have a designated viewing area just for ocean gazers and storm watchers. On rainy days, there’s even a storm watching hut to keep visitors safe and dry. Here are a couple of great videos we captured at Shore Acres State Park and elsewhere.
The view from Lighthouse Viewpoint at Cape Arago State Park is another of the most stunning sights near Coos Bay, North Bend, and Charleston. The existing lighthouse structure, built in 1909 on the site of Oregon’s very first lighthouse, is an important part of the Adventure Coast’s history as it provided navigational aid and warned mariners away from the dangerous, rocky shoreline until 2006. Spotting it from this viewpoint is a soul-touching moment.
For the more faint of heart, a great local storm watching spot is at the bluff overlooking Bastendorff Beach and Sunset Bay State Park along Cape Arago Highway. Sunset Bay State Park features a protected beach with tide pools exposed at low tide. This is probably the safest beach to walk on in winter due to its geography, with land on three sides and an island that slows incoming waves.
The best time to go is when swells are predicted to be high, so be sure to check the local, extended forecast. It’s exciting to get close to the action, but safety is key. Never turn your back to the ocean and always watch from safe viewing areas.
Nine tips to stay safe and dry!
- It’s the Oregon coast during heavy waves, so of course, it can get pretty wet. Make sure you pack quality rain gear to waterproof yourself and your loved ones. Light, waterproof jackets and sweaters help to keep the cool damp wind out.
- Dress in layers as the temperature may fluctuate.
- If you plan to hike and explore, we encourage you to also bring hiking boots (waterproof ones are the best).
- You will most definitely want to snap some pics or videos of the storm. It is not a bad idea to invest in a quality digital camera that is completely waterproof.
- Binoculars can really enhance viewing of the spectacular waves.
- Be aware that some locations, like state parks, may charge a fee for access.
- Storm watching has more to do with the ocean conditions rather than the actual weather conditions. So pay attention to storm watching recommendations.
- The safest areas to view winter storms are at the storm watching hut at Shore Acres State Park, the bluff overlooking Bastendorff Beach, Cape Arago State Park, and Sunset Bay State Park.
- Come prepared to have a one-of-a-kind experience on Oregon’s Adventure Coast, where the Soul Meets the Sea.