In between Newport and Lincoln City, there are numerous extraordinary waysides and coastal viewpoints to enjoy, as you travel US Highway 101. Plan your stops around Devil’s Punch Bowl, Otter Crest, Depoe Bay — just to name a few.
A few miles north of Newport, keep an eye out for a scenic detour. US 101 turns inland for a few miles, but you have the option of taking the Otter Crest Loop. The road itself doesn’t get much closer to the coast, but it does allow you to access a couple of nice spots, starting with…
Devil’s Punch Bowl State Park
At the end of a road that passes through a residential neighborhood, you’ll come to a parking lot. Just beyond it, there’s an overlook that allows you to peer down into a hole in the rocky coast. A natural bridge allows waves to come crashing into the Devil’s Punch Bowl, and then the water thrashes about, sometimes forming geyser-like splashes in the air.
There are also some telescopes along the railing, just in case you want to get a closer look at the coast. Aside from that, I didn’t see much else to do here — although I’ve read that there is a trail to the beach. It’s probably best at low tide.
Otter Crest State Wayside – Cape Foulweather
Continue on up the Otter Crest Loop, and you’ll climb up to the top of Cape Foulweather. This rocky cape was first spotted by Captain James Cook on his third voyage around the world, in 1778. He gave it the name, due to the inclement weather he faced, shortly after spotting it.
The parking lot at Cape Foulweather has an excellent view of the coastline to the south.
You can also enjoy a nice view to the north, but to do so, you’ll need to go inside the gift shop that’s perched on the edge of the cliff, and look out its windows.
Make your way back to US 101, either by backtracking or continuing on the loop. The next stop is…
Depoe Bay is a center for tourism for a few reasons. It has a claim to fame: it has the world’s smallest navigable harbor…
… which ships enter by passing through this narrow opening under US 101. Thanks to that harbor, Depoe Bay offers whale watching tours and fishing charters.
Depoe Bay also has a one-sided downtown business strip, but that’s okay, because all the businesses look out onto US 101…
… with the Pacific Ocean on the other side. Depoe Bay brags that it’s the only city on the Pacific coast with this kind of arrangement — where every downtown business has a view of the ocean.
As you can see by my pictures, the weather had taken a nasty turn during my visit in 2013. 5 miles down the road in either direction, the sun was out, but here in Depoe Bay, I was getting soaked by rain falling from the sky and the ocean spray that comes splashing over that sea wall.
I managed to take some better pictures during my 2007 visit to Depoe Bay.
Interesting Fact: Depoe Bay provided the setting for a scene in the 1975 film, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. It’s the boat scene, where Jack Nicholson steals a charter boat and takes his fellow mental patients on a fishing trip. Other parts of the movie were filmed at the Oregon State Hospital in Salem.
North of Depoe Bay, US 101 enters sprawling Lincoln City, which seems to stretch out forever, limiting your views of the ocean and forcing you to creep along at a low speed. Your next chance to enjoy the coast comes at the Three Capes Loop — a scenic detour off of US 101 that provides access to several worthwhile state parks and scenic areas.
The Bottom Line
Devil’s Punch Bowl and Otter Crest are nice for a quick stop. Depoe Bay is worth at least a brief visit, or you could plan an entire day around it, if you’re looking to go whale watching or fishing.
Newport and Lincoln City are two of the major cities along the central Oregon coastline. On this page, I’m traveling northbound, which means I’ll stop at Devil’s Punch Bowl first, followed quickly by Otter Crest. The world’s smallest navigable harbor, Depoe Bay, is about halfway between the two bigger cities.
Throughout this area, US 101 stays close to the coastline, so you’ll be treated to numerous viewpoints, in addition to the ones I’m talking about here.
Check out this time-lapse, dash-cam video of the drive from Newport to Lincoln City: