Sea Lions and Ostriches and Whales — Oh Yes! 8 Animal Adventures Along the Pacific Coast
Heceta Head Lighthouse on the Oregon coast. (Photo: iStock/Thinkstock)
Driving down the Oregon and California coasts it’s hard to keep your eyes on the road — the scenery is that spectacular. Highways 101 and 1 hug rugged oceanfront cliffs, roll past pastoral farmland, and weave through redwood forests, vineyards, and beach communities.
And yet, epic scenes aren’t the only attention grabbers: Animals constantly vied for my attention. And I’m not talking about the wander-into-the-middle-of-the-road-and-force-you-to-jam-the-brakes kind either. Here, amid large expanses of natural settings, where I might be the only car for miles and miles, I found myself consistently pulling over to watch sheep grazing, birds migrating and cows… well, being cows.
Beyond these quiet observations, unique opportunities abounded to get up close with the region’s awesome animals, like whales and sea lions. Here’s eight of the best — including at least one of the extinct variety.
Depoe Bay, Oregon: Gray Whales
The self-proclaimed “Whale Watching Capital of the Oregon Coast,” Depoe Bay welcomes pods of gray whales from March through December. Visitors can observe these gentle giants spouting in open water from the Whale Watch Center. For me, however, binoculars wouldn’t cut it. For $18, I joined a one-hour boat ride with Tradewinds Charters and got the thrill of a lifetime when several whales spouted right in front of me.
A gray whale tail off the coast of Depoe Bay (Photo: OCVA/Flickr)