If you’re looking to see many of the Oregon coast’s splendors in a single spot, head to the little community of Seal Rock, Oregon, situated north of Waldport and south of Newport. Big rocks, assorted sea stacks, a long beach, tide pools, sea birds, and sea lions – all of these adorn the swatch of shoreline at Seal Rock State Recreation Site.

From the viewing area and you can see the basalt monolith labeled Elephant Rock, which looks like a kneeling pachyderm, facing north, hindquarters south – at least to those with fertile imaginations! I can easily see the face in Bandon’s Face Rock, the breaching whale at Whaleshead Beach, and even Chief Kiawanda with his ponytail at Cape Kiwanda, but I find it a stretch to envision an elephant in this particular Elephant Rock. Perhaps its likeness has deteriorated over time.

Looking for seals? According to a local web site, the sea lions in the area prefer lolling at low tide on the rocks at the south end of the beach. That’s quite a distance from the viewing area, so bring your binoculars or telephoto lens if you want to witness their antics.

Viewing area

125 Steps Wheels:

A section of path at the top of the paved trail provides an excellent vantage at Seal Rock State Recreation Site. A string of sea stacks stretch left and right from this hilltop spot. The frothy scalloped edges of waves lapping the shore at varying intervals create a lace-like effect in the waters visible more than a mile north. Seabirds cover the tops and tuck into nooks on the nearby rocks.

The step count above is from the parking lot to the start of the viewing area, but you have the option to rest at a picnic table next to the incline part of the path after about the first 50 steps. You can lengthen the walk by strolling the full length of the viewing area, which adds close to 75 steps one way.

The viewing area ends at a deteriorated path that reached the beach in days past. A newer trail starts on the west side of the parking lot, providing access to sand and what looks like some wonderful tide pools. Unfortunately, the descent is reported to be steep by many visitors and requires negotiating rocks and driftwood as it ends, so a beach walk at Seal Rock State Recreation Site is not covered on 100 Steps.

Walk Details for Viewing area
Terrain: An aged pavement incline, moderately steep, leads to the viewing area, which is nearly flat. Path is not quite wide enough for two people, until you reach the viewing area, where it broadens.
Note: The path is marked ADA accessible, but to me the steepness of the return from the viewing area is dubious for some wheeled mobility devices. Thus, the 100 Steps Wheel Friendly designation of Maybe indicates you should consider for yourself by looking at the terrain description and photos whether or not the walk appears safe or comfortable for your use.
Seating: One bench near the start of the trail. Two picnic tables in the grass along the way, although only one is directly next to the trail. No seating at the viewing area.
Fee: No fee
Restrooms: Yes, west side of the parking lot.
Directions: From Highway 101 in Seal Rock, turn west up the driveway to the parking lot at the Seal Rock State Recreation Site state park sign.