16. Boiler Bay
Most folks content themselves with gazing at Boiler Bay from the high promontory at Government Point, which makes as fine a place as any to zone out on that most classic of scenes—raging waves smashing against a cliff face. What many don’t know is that you can actually walk down to Boiler Bay itself, which holds some of the most biologically diverse tide pools on the entire coast. To find the steep, narrow trail leading to the water’s edge, park on the west side of the highway just before you reach Boiler Bay State Park (at the tiny pullout). Scramble down the steep, rocky slope to enter another world made of twisting channels and mossy green cliffs, one that’s populated by the brilliantly colored denizens of the intertidal zone. This is one of the only spots on the coast where you’ll find the unusual, prehistoric-looking gumboot chiton (a type of mollusk), several types of uncommon corals, and an especially rich assemblage of sea slugs and sessile invertebrates—creatures like bright sea sponges that hold fast to the rocks and make this cold-water bay their permanent, kaleidoscopic home. Look to the bay’s center at low tide and you may even spot its namesake: a rusty boiler left here in 1910 after a fire consumed the steamer J. Marhoffer. 800-551-6949; oregonstateparks.org
17. Rocky Creek State Scenic Viewpoint
It seems a rather ordinary park, this grassy oceanfront field two miles south of Depoe Bay—but Rocky Creek happens to be home to the Pacific Ocean’s very best front-row seat, a solitary bench propped on the point’s edge, where, tranquilized by crisp sea air, you can while away an hour contemplating the waves erupting just below your feet. After a spell of meditation, walk north past the park bathrooms into the stand of pine and spruce to discover a short, winding trail with peekaboo viewpoints of the spectacular Whale Cove, purported to be the site of New Albion, Sir Francis Drake’s 1579 campsite during his circumnavigation of the globe. 800-551-6949; oregonstateparks.org
18. Otter Crest Loop Road to Cape Foulweather
Don’t simply obey the highway signs that steer you to a rather mundane approach to the 500-foot-high promontory of Cape Foulweather. Instead turn west on Otter Crest Loop, just south of Rocky Creek State Scenic Viewpoint. The short drive slowly winds up the cliff side, offering panoramas (like this one) as you climb the north slope of the historic cape—the first location on the coast named by Captain Cook during his exploration of the Pacific Northwest in 1778.