On our visit to the bustling beach community of Cannon Beach my husband and I stopped at landmarks both august and obscure.  A sanctuary for birds and other marine wildlife, a pictorial star for visiting humans, Haystack Rock is a required stop for northern Oregon guests.  If you are seeking a more quiet refuge, try the comparatively modest Whale Park.  All are close at hand from downtown Cannon Beach.

Whale Park

100 Steps Wheels:

After passing under the gazebo entrance, you can rest on a bench and view the sculpture for which the park is named.  Ecola Creek is visible as it meanders to the sea, and the broad ocean stretches just beyond.  The park’s edge hosts two educational signs: one elaborating on hermit crabs and tide pools, the other on nesting seabirds, bragging “Cannon Beach is the best place on the West coast to see puffins.”  We did not see any on our visit, but that seemed to be expected since December is well-after breeding season.

Walk Details for Whale Park
Terrain: Broad, flat pavement and sidewalk. Four shallow steps with no railing to reach park. There is also a ramp available. The step count does not include the longer approach via ramp, but my guesstimate would be an additional 50 steps.
Seating: Three benches with backs
Fee: No fee, but if there is no room on the street there is a fee to park in the nearby public lot.
Restrooms: No
Directions: Park is nearest to the northern Cannon Beach entrance off of Highway 101. Follow Fir Street until you reach East 3rd Street. Road will turn right and end at North Spruce. Turn left on to Spruce, and then the first right onto another leg of 3rd Street. Whale Park is on the corner. Park as near as you are able.

Haystack Rock view

200 Steps Wheels:

In a quest to get close to Haystack Rock, we headed west and then continued south when we reached a road that paralleled the beach.  Although we found some nice photo ops, particularly along Ocean Avenue, there was no place to park.  We eventually came to the midtown Cannon Beach parking area.  From there you can walk to a beach where Haystack Rock looms just within the surf line.  As a bonus, Tillamook Rock Lighthouse dots the waters to the north.

Walk Details for Haystack Rock view
Terrain: Pavement, a couple of curbs, sandy pavement and sand. Moderate ramp to reach the beach. Step count is to the beach edge, which allows photos of Haystack Rock.
Seating: None
Fee: No fee, but if there is no room on the street there is a fee to park in the nearby public lot.
Restrooms: Signs for restrooms point across the Midtown Parking Area. I did not follow them, so do not know the distance.
Directions: From the vicinity of the Whale Park / Downtown Parking Area, head south on North Spruce Street until you reach East Gower Avenue. Turn right on Gower. The Midtown Parking Area is just ahead on the left. We parked just past the lot, on Pacific Street.