Well-known by northwest natives and tourists alike, Cannon Beach is one of Oregon’s most popular coastal destinations. The beach is renowned for its beauty, and the diversity of activities, wildlife, and proximity to Portland add to its merits. The beach takes its name from the 1922 discovery of a cannon from the wreckage of the USS Shark. William Clark first recorded his visits to the area in 1806 while the Lewis and Clark expedition wintered at nearby Fort Clatsop.
At the north end of the town of Cannon Beach, just off of Hemlock Street, a wooden sculpture of a whale commemorates a barter made between Clark and members of the Tillamook tribe for blubber and oil from a beached whale. From here you can head out to the beach for a stroll, a recumbent beach-bike ride, some kite flying, or to just take in the views. To the south, Haystack Rock stands 235 feet tall and is home to an impressive variety of tidal-pool dwellers and sea birds. California mussels and gooseneck barnacles cover much of the igneous rock but share their home with many others – black leather chiton, purple sea urchin, ochre sea stars and giant green anemone, to name a few. Above, you may see pigeon guillemots flying around as well as the common western gull. Although the tidal pools are accessible by the public at low tide, Haystack Rock is protected as a marine sanctuary and should be explored with care. Ecola State Park is north of Cannon Beach and also well worth a visit. It is from Ecola’s remarkable vista points that Clark and Sacagawea first spotted the beached whale that lead them to Cannon Beach. Ecola State Park is a great spot for a short or long hike through old-growth forest or a sunset picnic to end the day.