If you’ve travelled between Newport and Lincoln City, odds are good you’ve stopped at the Depoe Bay wayside. The ocean is right there next to the walkway that runs along Highway 101, with parking tantalizingly close. Who could resist?

The weather does its part to contribute to the allure. The sun adds sparkles and enhances the vibrancy of the frothy foam lapping the rough, dark rocks below the sidewalk. Perhaps even better, stormy seas and coastal winds send tall plumes over the low wall to splash on pedestrians and ill-placed cars.

If that’s not enough to entice you, you see several mentions of the coastline’s large, gentle beasts: Whale Center, Whale Museum, whale charters, whale art. This little place obviously has something to teach about these huge migrating mammals.

This Depoe Bay wayside is popular, especially during the summer months. If you can find a vacant parking space, take advantage of your good timing and soak up the seascape.

Whale Park and walkway

50 Steps Wheels:

Whale Park consists of a few picnic tables and benches grouped at the north end of the Depoe Bay wayside near a playful whale sculpture. This is a great spot to look for whale spouts against the horizon, before or after strolling the length of the sidewalk between Highway 101 and the ocean.

The step count above is from the parking space nearest the Whale Park. The full walkway is about 550 steps. If you don’t mind bumpy seating, you can rest on the wall at any point along the way.

Walk Details for Whale Park and walkway
Terrain: Level sidewalk. Curb can be avoided if you use one of the small ramps of built up pavement.
Seating: Picnic tables and benches at the Whale Park. A low rock wall along the walkway is the right height for sitting if you don’t mind an irregular surface.
Fee: No fee
Restrooms: No
Directions: Right next to Highway 101, north of the bridge in Depoe Bay. Closest parking is the north end of the walkway.

Seated overlook

25 Steps Wheels:

Not obvious from the road, stairs just north of the Whale Center ramp drop down to two prime viewing benches.   More challenging to reach than the walkway or viewing deck, you can enjoy a bit of seclusion from the busy roadside while absorbing the beauty of the area from a front-row seat.

Walk Details for Seated overlook
Terrain: Sidewalk leads to ten stairs with no railing, followed by uneven grass.
Seating: Two benches with backs
Fee: No fee
Restrooms: No, nearest are at the Whale Center.
Directions: Right next to Highway 101 just north of the bridge in Depoe Bay. Closest parking is near the stoplight.

Whale Center viewing deck

75 Steps Wheels:

At the south end of the Depoe Bay wayside, next to the entrance of the “world’s smallest harbor,” sits a building dedicated to promoting and studying whales. Part of the Oregon State Parks collective, the Whale Center is situated lower than the road, surrounded by level concrete and bordered by a stone wall matching the one that edges the roadside walkway. Reached via a long, wide ramp, in addition to offering beautiful views and a chance to spot whales, the area around the building contains a couple of signs covering tidbits of whale knowledge.

Walk Details for Whale Center viewing deck
Terrain: Level sidewalk. Ramp is sloped decking with handrails.
Seating: No
Fee: No fee
Restrooms: Located at the Whale Center, the restrooms are, oddly, the reason the building was constructed.
Directions: Right next to Highway 101 just north of the bridge in Depoe Bay. Closest parking is near the stoplight.