Forests, Beaches, Cliffs & Seals: Mt. Saint Helens & Oregon

Welcome back on the blog and welcome to a new blog post. As you might have noticed, this blog post did not go live on Thursday but on Friday and from now on it will remain this way. But now let’s head right into the topic and pick up where we left last week. In the previous blog post, I told you everything about Whale Watching near the San Juan Islands, but of course, this was not the only thing on the itinerary of the road trip regarding Washington, and I’ll tell you everything about the most beautiful places in Oregon as well.

The day after we went Whale Watching was when we left Seattle, but I ended my trip there, so don’t worry – you’ll hear everything about this amazing city in another post about the road trip. From Seattle, we were on our way to Portland, Oregon and decided to make a stop at the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. Mt. Saint Helens is an active volcano, very close to the border of Washington and Oregon. The volcano erupted in 1980 and since 1982 the area surrounding it and that has been destroyed is considered a National Monument to help it recover.

Sadly, the weather was terrible when we visited, and it was really foggy and rainy. The sight was really not good and made driving the streets really exhausting, that’s why we did not head to the volcano itself, also because others told us the view is not that great either under such conditions. We decided to head to Coldwater Lake, one of the major lakes of the area and I have to say that the fog around the lake really reminded me of some Lochs in the Scottish Highlands!

Afterwards, we headed on to an overnight stop in Portland. We did not see much of the city, but it seemed really liveable, and it was amazing how much greenery we could find in such a big city. But our next real destination was located at the coast, and so we started the next day very early, hoping to spend noon at sea.

Traffic was in our favour, and so we arrived perfectly scheduled at Cannon Beach. Cannon Beach is a rather small town along the coast of Oregon, with not even 2,000 inhabitants, but the main attraction is not the city, not even the beach, but what is found on the beach: the famous Haystack Rock. The rock is 72 metres tall (way bigger than it looks on pictures) and on low tide – as it was when we visited – it is accessible. Nevertheless, lots of seabirds and wildlife nests on the rock, which is why you shouldn’t climb it. (Of course, some people thought rules did not apply to them. Don’t be one of them!)

The beach itself was really clean, some people were making bonfires, lots of dogs were enjoying the sea, and the cute little beach houses make a lovely scenery. But despite it being August it was not that warm, so I would not consider swimming there, but maybe this was caused by the bad weather we had the days before.

Afterwards, - and may I just add that Oregon has the most beautiful coastal highway lookouts?! – we headed to our place for the night: Florence. But Florence was not only our place to sleep but also where we spent most of the next day as there is quite a lot to see around the town. One of the main attractions are the Sea Lion Caves.

They are found right next to the highway, and the entrance fee is around 14$, but those are some of the best-spent dollars ever. There are two different lookouts to watch the sea lions, and we were lucky as they were in both on that day. From one lookout you can watch them from a distance and see how the relax in the sun, play in the sea or just scream at each other (believe me you won’t overhear them!). The other lookout is accessible via an elevator that takes you down to sea level and then you are actually right next to them and their cave. The elevator shaft had to be drilled very carefully as to not disturb the sea lions, but it seems as if they did their job right as the sea lions return every year to the cave.

The other major attraction of Florence are the Florence Sand Dunes. These are accessible by paying 5$ at a self-paying station, so technically you could cheat, but honestly, if you don’t want to spend 5$ to walk along the calmest and pristine dunes, then you probably shouldn’t visit. There are also some volunteers around to help save a special kind of bird whose eggs have the size of only a few millimetres, and the baby birds have a size of a cotton ball. They try to raise awareness, so no one disturbs or harms the animals accidentally.

Honestly, Oregon was my favourite state of all in the US as it was amazing how the surroundings of Portland were forests and fields, then we headed to the prettiest beaches, and withing driving a few minutes on the highway we saw amazing coastlines, dunes and forests. This state is so diverse I think it would deserve way more recognition than it gets! I mean just look at the view we had on the highway:

Next week I’ll start telling you all about California – a state that has much more to offer than just beaches!