Best Accessible Viewpoints and Whale Watching Areas
Published: 03/16/2016  Updated: 08/13/2019

Coast Explorer publisher Gary Hayes answers questions from travelers as Travel Oregon's "Ask Oregon" expert for the Oregon Coast.

Question:
I am planning to drive the length of the Oregon Coast during the spring whale migration with my mom who is confined to a wheel chair. Can you recommend the best accessible viewpoints and whale watching areas?

Answer:
There are a number of wheel chair accessible areas that offer stunning views and many are great whale watching spots as well. From north to south, some of the stops you should consider would include the following:

Seaside's Oceanfront Promenade: A popular and active paved promenade along Seaside's oceanfront.

Ecola State Park: Paved paths offer a variety of panoramic views that are also good for whale watching.

Oswald West State Park Highway Viewpoints: Several turnouts on US 101 as you skirt the edge of Neahkahnie Mountain are great whale watching viewpoints.

Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint: Paved paths lead to the end of the cape and a lighthouse, a great spot for whale watching.

Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area: Paved paths offer great views and circle a scenic lighthouse. There's also a wheelchair accessible intertidal area at Quarry Cove. Seabirds, seals and whales are common sightings.

Depoe Bay Whale Watch Center: This is a facility operated by Oregon State Parks that is one of the best whale watching locations year-round with both indoor and outdoor viewing areas. State Parks personnel are on hand to help visitors spot whales.

Cape Perpetua Scenic Area: A variety of paved paths offer views from atop the cape and along a scenic stretch of oceanfront at Cook's Chasm for views of Spouting Horn and Thor's Well. A nearby paved overlook offers views of Devil's Churn. The Visitor Center offers a good whale watching viewpoint.

Heceta Head Lighthouse Highway Viewpoints: Just south of Sea Lion Caves are two small highway-side viewpoints that offer wonderfully scenic views of the beautiful Heceta Head Lighthouse.

Oregon Dunes Day Use Area: Just south of Florence, this dunes overlook offers access to wheelchair accessible viewing areas of the Oregon Dunes.

Shore Acres State Park: A must-stop with paved trails along a cliffside famous for great wave action, seals, sea lions and whales. The formal gardens of a one-time historic estate can also be toured. Nearby, the Simpson Reef overlook is one of the best places to watch seal lions on the entire Oregon Coast. Nearby Cape Arago State Park also offers paved paths and overlooks good for whale watching.

Coquille Point in Bandon: A network of paved paths offers beautiful overlooks of the many rock formations along Bandon's scenic beach. The nearby Face Rock viewpoint offers more great views and a short paved pathway.

Arch Rock & Spruce Islands Viewpoint: The Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor offers a few nice wheelchair accessible stops, but this is my favorite. A few paved paths (some a little rough) offer great views of a scenic stretch of coastline.

Harris Beach State Park: Paved paths at the day use area of the park offers nice views of the rock strewn shoreline.
This is my "short list" of don't miss accessible locations. There are many others. I would allocate 7-9 days to explore these areas and find your own special places.
Best Accessible Viewpoints and Whale Watching Areas