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Cannon Beach
Haystack Rock


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Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock looking from the south. Cannon Beach on the Beautiful Oregon Coast!

     Cannon Beach is a lovely little seashore town located on the North Coast of Oregon.  To the north of us is Ecola State Park and to the south are Arcadia Beach, Hug Point, and Oswald West State Parks.  Standing just offshore is Haystack Rock - possibly the most photographed chunk of basalt in the world.  The scenic grandeur of our surroundings and our moderate year-round climate makes Cannon Beach a popular destination for travelers from all over the world. 

The Arts

     Back in the '70s a small artists enclave got started here and has grown to include over twenty galleries featuring work by local, regional, and nationally known artists.  Cannon Beach is a good place to find art for decoration or investment.  Two galleries specialize in bronzes, one in classical fine art and bronzes, one in local wildlife, quite a few of them show the work of their owner/artists, the rest are general galleries featuring work from local and non-local artists.


     In keeping with our close ties with the arts Cannon Beach has a small theater, the Coaster Theater, where you can see live theatrical and musical productions.  The productions I have seen have been very good amateur work.  The actors are well rehearsed and directed, and the sets are low-budget but creative.  That is as it should be.  The immediacy of live theater - of seeing our friends and neighbors up there doing their best - is a treat that we experience too seldom in this electronic age.  The Coaster Theater is located at 1st and Hemlock in Cannon Beach, Oregon.  You can contact them at 503-436-1242 between 1 and 5PM daily.

Outdoor Activities

     The actual beach at Cannon Beach is a very nice long, clean, light-colored fine sand beach. In the surf you will see numerous rocks called sea stacks including the much photographed Haystack Rock which sits pretty much dead-center opposite the town.  Beachcombing, photography, tide pooling (do it right!), beach volleyball, bird watching, whale watching, sand castle building and just plain old walking are all popular activities on our beautiful beach.  A walk on the beach will clear your mind and can really change your perspective on life.
     Cannon Beach is situated between two of the nicest state parks on the Oregon coast. Ecola State Park is just to the north of us. Ecola Park offers hiking, photography, bird watching, whale watching and picnicking. Some of the most beautiful views in the world can be seen here. The trail from the main parking lot to the Indian Beach parking lot is 1.3 miles long through coastal rainforest and is punctuated with stunning views of the shoreline.
     A few miles to the south of Cannon Beach is Oswald West State Park. It is named for Governor Oswald West who saved our coast for the people many years ago by making it part of the state highway system. (That was not such a stretch, since the actual beach was the main north/south highway until well into the 1930s.) Cape Falcon, Short Sands Beach, and most of Neahkahnie Mountain are within this park. Hiking, photography, bird watching, whale watching, surfing, picnicking, and camping are popular activities in Oswald West State Park. The campground is a walk-in tents only area and wheelbarrows are provided to help you lug your stuff.  It's a lot of fun.


     Some people really like to shop, and we try to accommodate them in style. Here in Cannon Beach you will find many quality shops, but no tacky souvenir stands. Visit our links page and check out the "Cannon Beach businesses & shopping" section to learn more about them.


     Just a word about weather forecasts:  ignore them!  It is the most frustrating thing listening to weather forecasts here - especially in the summer.  Precipitation is infrequent here on the coast during July, August, and September, but it is predicted in some form almost every day.  I think that if the weather forecasters can't get it right a reasonably high percentage of the time, they should quit trying.  If you come in July, August or September, you should be confident that the weather will be mostly, very nice.  Not hot or cold and seldom wet.  We do get a lot of rain, but most comes between November and March. 
     This is the coast, so you should always be prepared with something warm and some sort of rain gear, but you probably won't have to use the rain gear much during the summer.  The temperature extremes aren't....extreme, that is.   Temperatures in winter tend to be in the 40s to 50s and temperatures in the summer in the 60s to low 70s.  If it freezes at all in the winter, it is usually thawed by 10AM.   And 80 degrees in summer is a pretty hot day.  It is very easy to remain comfortable in such a narrow band.  Just be prepared with a sweatshirt for that late afternoon breeze off the ocean and bring that raincoat - just in case.
     If you click here you can see the daily photographs taken by George Vetter.  They should give you some clue as to what the weather was this morning, anyway, as well as a very good overview of our scenic beach in all her moods.  (Look through the archives.)

Early Tourists

     In 1805 Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and their exploratory party made camp at Fort Clatsop (up near Warrenton) for the winter.  They were here on assignment by President Jefferson to explore his new land purchase and to see what was beyond.  It was a particularly wet and miserable winter and they got a nasty case of cabin fever.  One day they got some interesting news:

"In the Evening some Indians came to our Fort. They informed us by signs, that a large Fish was drove by the Wind & waves on the shore near to where their lodges were, & we all suppose from the description they gave of it, that it must be a Whale."   Joseph Whitehouse, expedition member, December 27, 1805.

     This whale - or Ecole in the native language - was washed up on what is now known as Cannon Beach.  Having nothing better to do and being quite bored, Captain Clark, Sacagawea, and some men decided to go have a look, thus making Cannon Beach the first tourist destination west of the Mississippi River.  As you can see, they enjoyed the scenery from Tillamook Head (now within Ecola State Park) and did some beach combing:

"... proceeded to the top of the mountain next to the [former?] which is much the highest part and that part faceing the sea is open, from this point I beheld the grandest and most pleasing prospects which my eyes ever surveyed, in my frount a boundless Ocean; ... a most romantic appearance."

"... found only the Skelleton of this Monster (the Whale) on the Sand ... this Skeleton measured 105 feet."  William Clark, January 08, 1806

     It is interesting to note that a 105 foot whale would have to be a Blue Whale, not the more locally common Gray Whale which tops out at about 45 foot.  Since Captain Clark was a professional surveyor, it is reasonable to assume that he measured the "Skelleton" accurately. 

     Captain Clark ended up purchasing 300 pounds of whale blubber, a souvenir which he much prized.  Fortunately, you can now find many excellent restaurants in Cannon Beach serving fresh seafood caught and prepared with care and expertise.

     You can learn much more about Cannon Beach at Cannon-Beach.net or at the official Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce website.  These are both good web sites with lots of helpful information.  They are locally produced and so are more complete and up-to-date than any of the others out there.

     The Cannon Beach Magazine is published each year to help you plan and enjoy your vacation in our little beach town.  If you are considering a vacation in Cannon Beach you can contact the information center and they will send you a copy for free.  Or you can download a PDF formatted copy by clicking here.  By downloading and printing only what you need, you will be saving a lot of paper.

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Visit www.cannon-beach.net - Guide to Cannon Beach.

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