Along the Oregon coast there is a little known stretch of sand called Ona Beach. At Ona Beach State Park, there are parking, restrooms, a large grassy area, and shaded picnic tables right off Highway 101. With the atmosphere rather dark and lackluster, the place feels like just another pit stop along this well-traveled highway. However, after a quarter mile hike through dense pine trees and over a footbridge above Beaver Creek, a new scene emerges. The area opens to a spacious and lively view of an expansive sandy beach, scattered driftwood, and to the right, a coastal wildlife outlet where Beaver Creek pours into the ocean before reaching its final destination.
To the left is where the real treasure awaits. After a short walk south along the coastline is an area that is reminiscent of a Martian landscape. A peculiar landscape that is typically viewable under two conditions: the first being that it is low tide or minus tide, and secondly, after a winter season when pounding waves and strong tides have washed away sand and expose long basalt ridges, tunnels, and holes on the beach floor. The view is otherworldly and quite remarkable for originality in the long list of unusual rock formations along the Oregon coast. Ona Beach is a true geological oddity.
Ona Beach is a worthy location for tide pool viewing, agate hunting, clamming, and beachcombing. However, its unique character makes it prime for photography. When the conditions are right and the rocky ocean floor is fully exposed, the view of this unusual landscape is immensely impressive. The beach is covered with geological curiosities that lend originality to a photograph. Visually, the scene covers a full spectrum of color from a wide dynamic tonal range of absolute black through pure white and includes the sweet spot of many grays in between. Several of the Ona Beach rock formations are covered in algae, which vary from dark amber to a bright canary yellow and many patches of fluorescent green from the various sea grasses. There are dark, shadowy igneous rocks that have been hidden by ocean depths, but also stark white formations that are exposed and weathered clean by the pounding waves and bleached by the unremitting sunlight.
Ona Beach formations range in appearance from those that resemble intricate wood carvings to formations that replicate the smooth craters on a lunar surface. With basalt boulders that are rounded and polished by the crashing surf, and also positioned at various locations by the moving tides, the place takes on a feeling that seems more purposely artistic than random. Long rows of black rocks that are partially exposed in the white sand have near-perfect perpendicularity that feels intentional rather than haphazard. The end result is a landscape that feels like it was created with an artistic eye.
For more pictures of the Ona Beach State Park, visit www.photographyoregon.com.
To Get There:
Ona Beach State Park is located off Highway 101 either approximately 7 miles north of Waldport or 8 miles south of Newport, Oregon. There is no fee to use this day-only park. Camping is available nearby at the KOA Waldport campground.
Important to Note: All coastal rocks and islands are protected as National Wildlife Refuges and are closed to all public use to protect breeding wildlife. Tide pool life is protected by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Special restrictions prohibit or limit the collection of intertidal marine life.
Oregon Photo Guide™ features the landscape photography of Michael Skourtes, Portland Oregon photographer and avid outdoorsman. I venture throughout the state searching for the top destinations for Oregon hiking, backpacking, camping, and photography. I share my experiences and photography of Oregon on my guide. I encourage you to explore Oregon and make your own outdoor adventure.
For picture galleries featuring Oregon photography, or to contact me, visit www.photographyoregon.com.