The coast region of Oregon stretches for 363 stunning miles, and can be split into three sections: The North Coast, Central Coast, and the South Coast. The North stretches from the Columbia River to Cascade Head; The Central from Cascade Head to Reedsport; the South Coast covers the stretch from Reedsport to the state’s southern terminus at the California state line. Each of these sections features curious coastal villages, wide-open sandy beaches, lonely lighthouses, rocky shorelines with dark and moody sea stacks, and a seemingly endless amount of compositions for avid landscape photographers.
Coastal Oregon is a unique place, and for more than its aesthetics. Every beach in the state is open, and free to access, and can not be taken for private use. Following statehood in 1859, railroad lines across the Coast Range mountains led land developers to the ocean shores. By 1911 and a fair amount of coastal land development, Oswald West was elected governor on a promise that he’d reclaim Oregon’s beaches as public land. Because the legislature favored privatization, West had to get clever, so he declared a need for infrastructure and made the entire length of ocean shore from Washington to California a state highway. You’ll know this today as Highway 101. At the same time the Parks and Recreation department bought land for state parks, an average of one every 10 miles, ensuring access. Move forward to 1966 when once again Oregon’s public lands claim was challenged when a motel owner attempted to fence off beach near his accommodations for private use. The hubbub that followed led to the Oregon Beach Bill of 1967 which declared “free and uninterrupted use of the beaches” for the public. This remains today, with the beautiful Highway 101 leading the way to it all.
This incredible access along the Oregon Coast is a large part of what makes this region special. It provides visitors and photographers, such as ourselves, opportunity to size up scenes and views from numerous spots be it from roadside cliffs, or sandy beaches.