Cape Kiwanda – Pacific City, Oregon


There’s something about the point in a trip, where you leave the ocean behind, and head home.  If you’re like me, you need to take a moment to say goodbye. On this trip, my moment came at Cape Kiwanda.


As you head up the coast, you’ll need to turn east on OR Rte. 18 for the drive into Portland.  If you want to do what I did, and visit Cape Kiwanda before leaving the coast, continue up US 101 to the Pacific City/Three Capes Loop turnoff.  Cape Kiwanda isn’t far.

There it is, Haystack Rock, just off the coast of Pacific City.  You can easily access the beach, thanks to a nearby restaurant’s big parking lot.  The beach is somewhat boring near the parking lot, but if you walk to your right…

… you reach the lower end of Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area, complete with a sandy bluff that sticks out into the Pacific.

With a little effort and some good balance, you can climb up the side of the cape, and walk around on top of it.  The drop is steep on either side, and a sign warns you that the laws of gravity will apply.

If you have time, you could walk down into Cape Kiwanda State Natural Recreation area (or you can drive further up the Three Capes Loop, park, and walk down).

I decided to walk out the cape, carefully avoiding the steep cliffs.

Looking to the south, you get quite a view of Pacific City, Oregon.  The parking lot is on the far side of that new condo development, that you see on the left side.  So, at this point, you’re a fair distance away from your car.

I didn’t walk all the way to the top of Cape Kiwanda, because I was in a bit of a hurry, seeing as I had a flight to catch.

I visited Cape Kiwanda on Day 1 of my trip, as I traveled the Three Capes Loop.  You can view that part of the trip by clicking here.

On my way back down US 101, I passed a calm, reflective lake at the side of the road.  It was something I had seen a few dozen times while traveling 101, but this was the first place where there was room to pull off the road.

After wanting to photograph a small lake like this one for the past week, I had found my chance–on the very last day, in the very last hours of the trip!  What are the odds?

So, these were the last pictures I took.  The trip was over, except of course for the drive back to Portland, turning in the rental car, checking in my baggage, and of course, the hours and hours of flying.   But who’s complaining?  At this point of the trip, I just felt incredibly blessed to be where I was, and every moment was important.  That’s the best thing about the final day of a vacation, I think.

I visited Cape Kiwanda again in 2013. You can check out that visit here.

Instead of backtracking all the way down to the Rte. 18/US 101 crossroads, you could take Little Nestucca River Road as a shortcut to Rte. 18.  I do not recommend you do what I did, and take Shinglebolt Road.  It’s signed as a scenic alternative route to US 101, but in reality it’s narrow, winding, and you don’t really see much.  Rte. 18 runs into Rte. 99W, which takes you the rest of the way into Portland.

Note: This trip was first published in 2007.

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