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Seal Rock, Oregon is named for the rock formations that guard this particular section of the Oregon Coast. Its original Chinook name, "Seal Illahe," means "seal home" and offers an apt description of the area's most endearing landmark. Dozens of seals and sea lions inhabit the rocks at Seal Rock State Recreation Site, providing excellent wildlife photography opportunities. Uncluttered beaches and intriguing tide pools make the Seal Rock area a relaxing location for summer strolls. The town of Seal Rock is also known as a small artist haven and is a comfortable location for strolling through glass and woodworking galleries, and relaxed dining. Several golf courses are located within 10-20 minutes of Seal Rock and include scenic vistas of Oregon's stunning Pacific Coast.

Seal Rock Wayside.

Seal Rock State Wayside has large off-shore rock formations which are the habitat of seals, sea lions, sea birds and other marine life. The wayside includes interesting tidepools as well as excellent ocean views and a sandy beach. Developed for day-use, the picnic area is in a pleasant stand of shore pine, spruce and salal. The Gullhouse is located right by the Wayside. The photo in this listing was taken by a guest from the deck of the Gullhouse.

Quail Street Beach

QUAIL STREET BEACH is a little known area between the SEAL ROCK viewpoint and Driftwood Beach. It is very secluded and has its own tide pools and other unique features including the original settlement of the Collins' family marked by their stone chimney. A pair of Bald Eagles frequent the area searching for food along the shoreline. On an extreme low tide you will be amazed at the offerings found along this stretch of sand. Small signs on trees along the path indicate this is still a part of the State Park. Quail Street Beach is a short 1/4 mile walk and 2 minute drive from the Gullhouse. This sea star photo was taken by a family member.

Driftwood Beach

DRIFTWOOD BEACH is a day use only state park found about 2 1/4 miles south of the village of SEAL ROCK. Due to the location of the headlands to the north and the Alsea Bay to the south, Driftwood Beach has a large accumulation of logs, limbs and giant tree stumps that wash up during heavy surf. The strong winds whip the sand into tiny sculptures and waves creating interesting landscapes and colorful agates can be found along the shoreline here as well. While these logs can be dangerous to play on, they make for a one-of-a-kind photo opportunity because you may return the next day to find them rearranged or gone altogether! Personal photo taken from our family collection.

Oregon Coast Aquarium

We invite you to immerse yourself in the mysteries of the ocean. The Oregon Coast Aquarium is a world-class marine educational attraction nestled on beautiful Yaquina Bay in Newport, Oregon. The Aquarium is a living classroom for all learning styles and ages. As one of Oregon's top tourist attractions, the Aquarium is a vital educational resource for the state, with over 40,000 students visiting the aquarium each year. The Aquarium strives to be a center of excellence for ocean literacy and plays an active role in conservation and animal rehabilitation efforts. Recognized both locally and nationally for its outstanding exhibits and educational programs, the Aquarium is the 2011 and 2012 recipient of the "Best Tourist Attraction" and "Best Summer Camp for Kids" awards from the citizens of Lincoln County, Oregon. The Aquarium is a 15 minute drive from the Gullhouse. This photo of the jelly fish exhibit was taken by a guest at the Gullhouse.

Hatfield Marine Science Center

Located on Yaquina Bay in Newport, Oregon, the Visitor Center is the public wing of Oregon State University's Mark O. Hatfield Marine Science Center and is managed by Oregon Sea Grant. Exhibits feature live marine animals, interactive puzzles and games that demonstrate current marine science research. Whether you're stopping by on a visit to the coast, a teacher looking for educational field trip opportunities or a family in search of fun and informative activities for all ages, you'll find it here. In addition to our regular exhibits and programs, we offer custom tours and classes tailored to the needs of your group. Contact us in advance to plan a special visit. Hint: Check the octocam to see the resident octopus and plan your visit around a feeding time. Admission to the Marine Science Center is FREE! It is located less than 5 minutes from the Oregon State Aquarium

Central Oregon Coast Lighthouses

Oregon Coast Lighthouses Oregon's surviving coastal lighthouses serve as visible, accessible links to the past - monuments to Oregon's maritime heritage. Aided by interpretive displays, historical accounts and a little imagination, you can now gain some insight about what life was like for the light keepers who lit the way for mariners off Oregon's perilous coastline. Climb to the lantern or tower watch rooms at some of the locations and experience the panoramic sights once enjoyed by the light keepers. Hear the sounds of the seabirds and the wind that accompanied their isolation. Regularly scheduled tours are offered at lighthouses at the following locations: Heceta Head Yaquina Bay Yaquina Head Yaquina Head Lighthouse Location: Off the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway just north of downtown Newport. Noteworthy: This 93-foot-high tower is the tallest on the Oregon coast. It stands 162 feet above sea level. Hiking: Trails to the tide pools are accessible year-round. Cost: Visitor fee $2 to $5 per person. Yaquina Bay Lighthouse Location: Yaquina Bay State Recreation Site on the north end of the Yaquina Bay Bridge in Newport. Noteworthy: Yaquina Bay Lighthouse is the second oldest standing lighthouse structure on Oregon's coast. Open as a museum daily, May-September and on weekends all year-round. Hiking: Short walking trail from parking lot to the lighthouse. Cost: None, but donations are accepted. Heceta Head Lighthouse Location: 12 miles north of Florence, Heceta Head Lighthouse is located on the west side of a 1,000-foot-high Heceta Head. Noteworthy: Stands 205 feet above the ocean. Historic assistant light keeper's house (Heceta House) offers bed and breakfast and facilities for group events. Hiking: The trail is part of a 7-mile network with trails varying in difficulty. Many offer beach and wildlife viewing areas. Cost: Day-use fee $3 per vehicle or annual permit.

Sea Lion Caves

Sea Lion Caves are a connected system of sea caves and caverns open to the Pacific Ocean in Oregon. They are located 11 miles north of Florence on U.S. Highway 101, about midpoint on the Oregon Coast. In this area Highway 101 follows a steep and undeveloped seascape 300 feet above sea level. The cave system is at sea level and the ocean continually washes into the main cavern which has a floor area of about 2 acres and a vaulted rock dome about 125 feet high. Southward from the main chamber, a low passage runs to a sea level opening. This corridor is flooded at high tide and free of water at low tide. The western entrance is a short, high passage through which the ocean washes at all tide levels. The sea level portion of this cave and the sea cliff rocks just outside the cave have become, over the centuries, the only known mainland rookery and hauling area (wintering home) of the Stellar Sea Lion and?to a lesser extent?the California Sea Lion. The high vault is a natural resting place for sea birds. Many birds make their home at or near the Sea Lion Caves such as the Pigeon Guillemot, Brandt's Cormorant, Western, Herring, and California Gulls, Tufted Puffins, and the occasional hawk or Bald Eagle. Sea Lion Caves is one of the great sea grottos of the world, comparable in size and coloration to the famed Blue Grotto in the Mediterranean. The whale watching deck, located below the gift shop, permits a seaward view of approximately 20 miles. The deck is at an elevation of 300 feet, making it a popular whale watching post. Typically, orcas are seen migrating once a year past the Sea Lion Caves, whereas the Grey Whale is seen anywhere from a few months to all year long. Small groups sometimes end their migration in the immediate vicinity, feeding very close to the shore. From the Gullhouse, the Sea Lion Caves are an hour drive.

Whale Watching

Some gray whales do not continue on to Alaskan waters but stay off the coast of Oregon between June and November. These part-time residents number about 200. About 60 whales are seen repeatedly off the central coast and have been photographed and identified. Of these, about 40 hang out between Lincoln City and Waldport each year because that seems to be what the food supply will support. Watch for the whales's spouts from the deck of the Shearwaterhouse, the Romance of the Sea, and the Gullhouse in Seal Rock. Morning light with the sun at your back is best. First locate whale spouts with your naked eye; then focus more closely with binoculars. For an even closer view, try whale watching from a charter boat. We recommend two really special places. 1. Carrie's Whale, Sealife & Shark Museum in Depoe Bay, http://www.oregonwhales.com. Phone 541-912-6734. Carrie (Dr. Newell) is an active professor teaching classes at Oregon State University in Corvallis and the museum is populated with her own collection. You will find her animated, interesting, dynamic and energetic in doing what she obviously loves ... teaching about whales. It seems she has a personal relationship with each one, as she calls them by name and relates their personal history. The two zodiacs carry six adults each, and are surprisingly comfortable with individual seats. Kevin was our delightful captain when we went out and although we were not fortunate enough to see any whales, we got a beautiful view of the coast line, and up close and personal with seals and sea lions. We visited places only approachable by boat, saw an eagle perched high in a fir tree and skimmed the waves with pigeon guillimotes and cormorants. It was a lovely trip and well worth the money we spent. 2. Another whale watching option is Tradewinds Charters, http://www.tradewindscharters.com/. Phone 541-765-2345 or 1-800-445-8730. Tradewinds has a number of boats that go out on whale-watching tours and is the preferred way to go with a larger party, and/or ones with young children. It is less expensive, the boats carry many more people and the captains are knowledgeable and friendly. Tradewinds Charters also offer deep sea fishing expeditions for bottom fish which include Sea-Bass, Ling Cod, Red Snapper, Cabezon, and many other varieties of rockfish. They also fish seasonally for Halibut, Salmon, and Tuna. They are really great to work with, and one time we got close enough to smell the whale's breath!