Seal Rock State Park, in Seal Rock, Oregon is a wayside just off Highway 101 featuring large off-shore rock formations, tide pools, and a small sandy beach. The parking area, which is developed for day-use only, provides restrooms and a picnic area among spruce, cedar, and shore pine trees. Located approximately 5 miles north from the town of Waldport and 10 miles south of Newport, Seal Rock is conveniently located for a nature and photographic tour of the many outstanding rock formations and tidal habitats along the Oregon coast. Seal Rock attracts countless beachcombers, agate hunters, tide pool explorers, sea life viewers, and outdoor photographers who are bound to capture the raw beauty found in this Oregon coastal jewel.
Seal Rock’s stunning offshore rock formations, which are approximately a half mile from, and run 2.5 miles parallel to the beach, are a refuge for seals, sea lions, and a variety of sea birds. The area is a protected portion of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge. Within this cove is a large collection of tide pools with colorful and abundant marine life. Along the trail from the Seal Rock viewpoint is a highly impressive sea stack made of sandstone known locally as Elephant Rock. The massive sea stack serves as a resting sanctuary for migrating birds and a nesting habitat for several sea bird species. To the right of Elephant Rock is a chain of darkly colored igneous rocks that rise many feet above the ocean surface and extend far into the sea. With the endless crashing waves among the flanks of the rock chain, the scene is extraordinary. During the winter storm months, many storm watchers will gather to the Seal Rock viewpoint to admire and photograph the relentless thrashing from the ocean.
The time to visit Seal Rock State Park is during low tide as the sandy beach is rather small otherwise, and the various tide pools will be revealed in the inter-tidal area sheltered by the immense rock formations a half mile from the shore. Tides of 0.00 feet or lower (minus tide) are best for viewing the tide pools. With the optimal time two hours before low tide, the pools are highly noted for plentiful sea life including anemones, purple sea urchins, sea stars, sculpins, surfperch, hermit crabs, and countless barnacles, mussels, and sea vegetation. Unexpected “sneaker waves” are quite common in the Seal Rock recreation area, so it is prudent to stay focused and keep an eye on the surf at all times.
Aptly named, the Seal Rock area is a probable location to view seals and sea lions in the surf and offshore coastal rocks. Pacific harbor seals are the most commonly observed seal along the Oregon coast. Harbor seal pups often use the rocks as resting places while their mothers feed offshore. The Stellar (Northern) and California sea lions are the two most frequent species found along the Oregon coast. Photographing the seals and sea lions resting on the off shore rock formations is possible during very low tides, since while still separated from the shore by the ocean, they are more accessible for viewing and you can approach closer due to the exposed sand from the low tide. Additionally, whales have been spotted in the waters around Seal Rock. The best time of year to spot whales varies from species to species. Grey whales are best spotted in the spring (March/April) or winter (November/December). Humpback whales are best viewed in the summer and fall (July-October). Orcas may occasionally be observed from April through August and although not common, harbor porpoises may be seen throughout the year.
Thanks to the dynamic geologic activity from 14 million years ago, the Seal Rock area encompasses a varied and remarkable rugged landscape of rock formations and tidal habitats. Well-known for prime sea life viewing and storm watching, Seal Rock Oregon is also a notable destination for Oregon coast photography. Seal Rock offers varied scenery, from extensive rock formations both up close and offshore, providing depth of field. The view of the small sandy beach is scattered with numerous logs that have drifted to shore by the unrelenting waves, which also crash strongly against walls of the sea stack formations. The images offered are well balanced between wide-angle landscape shots, nature and sea life, as well as macro pictures of ocean life in the exposed tide pools. Due to the variety of scenery, as well as the convenient access of the location, Seal Rock State Park is a top destination in Oregon to capture the beauty of the Oregon coast.
For more pictures of the Seal Rock State Park in Seal Rock Oregon, visit www.photographyoregon.com.
To Get There:
Seal Rock State Park is located off Highway 101 either approximately 5 miles north of Waldport or 10 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.