Pacific Coast Highway (a.k.a. 101) in Oregon. With the crossing of the Columbia River the Cascade Mountains provide the horizon mark to the east and the landscape grows more open. The expansive seashore is ideal for kite flying and clam digging. Communities host cowboy breakfasts, conduct cheese samplings and provide gallery tours. Sea lions congregate on rocky perches and seagulls soar the breezes.
Experience Civil War history. Historic Fort Stevens is located near the mouth of the Columbia River on the Oregon side. The Fort was a coastal defense fort and saw active service from the Civil War days to the end of World War II. Visitors will find military artifacts and interpretive displays at the Museum as well as guided tours. During the summer months tour a rare 90-year old underground gun battery that served as a WWII command center, and take a truck tour of the fortifications spanning the Spanish-American War and WWII. This is the location of the only enclosed Civil War earthworks site on the West Coast. Discovery: The surrounding park includes spruce and hemlock forests, wetlands, dunes and shore pines with a network of hiking and biking trails. ( Off US 101, 10 miles west of Astoria. 1(503) 861-1470)
See Lewis and Clark’s place. Fort Clatsop National Memorial is located within the forests and wetlands of the Coastal Range where it merges with the Columbia River Estuary. The Fort, historic canoe landing, and spring provide a fascinating backdrop for interpreters to demonstrate their stories. Costumed rangers provide visitors with information about the winter encampment and demonstrate typical Corps activities. Visitors may see candle making, tallow rendering, flint-n-steel fire starting, quill pen writing, vintage entertainment, American Indian skills and crafts, and salt making activities. (92343 Fort Clatsop Rd. Astoria.1-503-861-2471 www.nps.gov/lewi/index.htm)
Face off with a shark. The Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport provides numerous ways to engage with the sea and its inhabitants. Through the advances in virtual reality it is possible to feel like one with a school of the fish. Descend Beneath the Sea showcases the residents of Yaquina Bay from sturgeon to snapper. Visitors learn secrets of sharks and all things aquatic. The 1.32-million-gallon aquarium features three large ocean habitats connected by a 200-foot underwater tunnel. Discovery: There are behind the scenes tours, touch tanks and fish sleepovers. (2820 S.E. Ferry Slip Road, Newport, 97365. 1(541) 867-FISH or www.aquarium.org)
Roar with lions. Confirmed by the Guiness Book of World Records as the largest sea caves in the world, the Sea Lion Caves near Florence always make the not-to-be-missed list. Known to be the only remaining home of wild steller sea lions on the North American mainland, the caves provide a safe habitat within eyesight of inquisitive visitors. In residence year round, the mammals bask on the rocks, frolic between the waves, fight, breed and bear young. Because care has been taken not to disturb the natural habitat, they seem oblivious to viewers. (91560 Hwy. 101 North, Florence, 97439. 1(541) 547-3111 or http://sealioncaves.com/home)
Roll over the dunes. Enormous, undulating sand mountains rise to heights of more than 500 feet making The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area an amazing place to see. It extends for 40 miles along the coast from Florence to Coos Bay making this the largest expanse of coastal sand dunes in North America. Covering more than 14,300 acres, from desolate beaches and awesome dunes, to forested trails and tree islands, it is a remarkable place. Visitors may rent an ATV and ride or hire a guide and have a thrill ride designed by Mother Nature. (Oregon Dunes NRA Visitor Center 855 Highway Avenue, Reedsport, 97467. 1(541) 271-3611 or www.fs.fed.us/r6/siuslaw)
Ride with the mail. From Gold Beach it is possible to ride with the mail and experience the wild natural beauty of the Rogue River Canyon as a passenger on a Hydro-Jet Mail Boat. This unique river canyon is part of the National Wild and Scenic River System. The power of the river is incredible and the and natural beauty memorable. More than a century has passed since the first postmen of the original mail boats made the 64 to104-mile journey on the Rogue up to Agness. The rapids provide an ever-changing thrill ride for passengers. Discovery: Look for the tiny cathouses on the waterfront in Gold Beach.
Discover fresh oysters. The South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve encompasses 4,700 acres including 600 acres of tidal marshes, mudflats and open water channels. Connecting to the ocean through the Coos estuary mouth, it provides an outstanding natural laboratory. Within the Reserve is an Interpretive Center for the Wetlands and Wildlife of the Coast. It features temporary exhibits that highlight local cultural history as well as research conducted by scientists at the Reserve. There are trails and viewing areas as well as planned activities that include lectures, children’s programs, and guided tours. Discovery: Charleston is known for fresh oyster beds. (Interpretive Center 61907 Seven Devils Rd. Charleston, 97420. 1(541) 888-5558 or https://www.oregon.gov/dsl/SS/Pages/About.aspx)
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