I had to make a trip to Corvallis earlier this week to meet with my accountant. You know, that lovely time of the year when you give the government your arm and leg in taxes and leave weeping.
I've begun to make the experience a little less stressful by coupling it with a trip to the coast. South Beach State Park in the area of Newport, OR has been my go-to spot. Camping in the forest on the coast with the smell of trees and the ocean...and the distant sound of sea lions...while sitting around a campfire. This makes me extremely happy.
My favorite tidepools on the west coast are just north of Newport at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, managed by the Bureau of Land Management. There's a beautiful historic lighthouse there, but some of the most amazing intertidal species can easily be viewed in this small nature sanctuary.
There are always a great number of sea stars, giant green sea anemones, and purple urchins. If you look even closer, you will spot chiton, limpets, barnacles, mussels, and more. On this particular trip I even had a short, rare glimpse of an octopus hiding out under a rock!
As with all tide pools, you will want to visit during low tide. The tide charts for this particular area can be found here. If you happen to visit when the tide is coming in or going out, the rocks on the beach make a really cool sound when the water washes over them! (My feet got wet--oops!)
Be sure to also visit Quarry Cove on the way to/from the lighthouse. At both locations, you will often have the opportunity to spot some really cute harbor seals! And if you keep your eyes peeled, gray whales can often be spotted here....or even the rare orcas! I've seen plenty of migratory birds and even nesting peregrine falcons. So take your binos along for the journey!
Note that there is a fee for the Yaquina area, but it's well worth it as far as I'm concerned. Because it's managed by BLM, it is free if you have a U.S. Parks and Recreation Pass.
If you head north from Yaquina, Devil's Punchbowl is another fun spot. Not only are the views of the coastline quite amazing from the lookout, but so is the geology of the punchbowl. When the tide is out, you can take a small hike to the beach and explore more amazing tide pools and the inside of the punchbowl. When the tide is in, you can listen to the thunder of water entering the punchbowl as you watch from the viewpoint above.