The 3 Capes Scenic Drive
Three Capes Scenic drive of Cape Kiwanda - Cape Lookout - Cape Meares
The 3 Capes Scenic Drive is one of the most popular and spectacular
stretches of scenery on the Oregon Coast if not the entire
west coast. Pacific City is the beginning of the 40 mile drive starting with Cape Kiwanda State Park. Cape Kiwanda is the
smallest of the three capes but not necessarily the least interesting.
The climb to the top of the cape offers a view of the coastline including Haystack Rock.
Continuing north over the hill, you will pass through Tierra Del Mar, a
small community of homes lining the pristine beach. This area offers a
great view of the north side of Cape Kiwanda. There are several turn
outs and beach access for pedestrians and vehicles. As you round the next
corner, you come upon Whalen Island County Park. This campground and park
is adjacent to the newest Oregon State Park with 200 acres of rare wetland.
Now you are approaching Sand Lake recreation area with campgrounds and
dunes used mostly by off road vehicles. Enjoy video of Cape Kiwanda below:
The scenic route then takes you on a winding drive that moves inland in spots and then to Cape Lookout,
another state park, which has camping facilities near the beach.
Trails and viewpoints are abundant. Cape Lookout State Park encompassed nearly every geologic and natural feature
found along the Oregon Coast. The park was named for Cape Lookout,
a rocky headland extending one and three-quarter miles into the ocean.
An overnight camp is located in a typical coastal rain forest. A
rolling, gently sloping beach provides an ideal setting for ocean activities.
Continuing on up the hill you will find a parking lot which is the trailhead
to some nicely wooded trails that offer splended views of the ocean and
beaches. Take a five mile round-trip hike to the tip of Cape Lookout
or a two and a half mile stroll down to the beach.
The next stop is Netarts
Bay and the quaint community of Netarts considered one of the best coastal
locales for clamming and crabbing. About 3 miles on up the road you will
encounter the turnoff to Oceanside, a small coastal village that is a popular
stopping place with vacationers. Just offshore from Oceanside is
Three Arch Rocks. On most spring and summer weekends, you will see
hang gliders riding the winds above the rocks until they finally land on
the beach. See video of Arch Rocks and Oceanside below:
Three Arch Rocks was declared a National Wildlife Refuge
in the early 1900s by President Theodore Roosevelt. It is the home for
many types of bird life and an area frequented by sea lions. When you reach
Bayocean, don't miss reading the signs which tell you the brief story of
the ghost community, now gone, that existed there 35 - 55 years ago.
Turning left from the bay, the route climbs up through forested hills toward
the entrance to Cape Meares State Park. Within easy walking distance from the Cape Meares
parking lot is the legendary
a Sitka spruce that sends six huge trunks into the sky. Also in the vicinity are
Meares Lighthouse and a coastal seabird nesting area that is part of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Preserve.
As you follow the drive, you will find yourself skirting the southern edge of Tillamook Bay, looking across
the water toward Bay City and Garibaldi. The bay, which has many
commercially harvested oyster beds, is a vital habitat for much of the
county's fish and wildlife. As you drive on toward downtown Tillamook on
Third Street, you will stop at the intersection of Third and 101, turn
right and follow the hiway back to Pacific City through small communities
alone are worth the drive. The round trip driving time is about 2+ hours
not counting stopping time. But plan on a whole afternoon to take
in all the beauty.
And don't forget your camera and plenty of film...