If you’ve travelled between Newport and Lincoln City, odds are good you’ve stopped at the Depoe Bay wayside. The ocean is right there next to the walkway that runs along Highway 101, with parking tantalizingly close. Who could resist?
The weather does its part to contribute to the allure. The sun adds sparkles and enhances the vibrancy of the frothy foam lapping the rough, dark rocks below the sidewalk. Perhaps even better, stormy seas and coastal winds send tall plumes over the low wall to splash on pedestrians and ill-placed cars.
If that’s not enough to entice you, you see several mentions of the coastline’s large, gentle beasts: Whale Center, Whale Museum, whale charters, whale art. This little place obviously has something to teach about these huge migrating mammals.
This Depoe Bay wayside is popular, especially during the summer months. If you can find a vacant parking space, take advantage of your good timing and soak up the seascape.
Whale Park and walkway
Whale Park consists of a few picnic tables and benches grouped at the north end of the Depoe Bay wayside near a playful whale sculpture. This is a great spot to look for whale spouts against the horizon, before or after strolling the length of the sidewalk between Highway 101 and the ocean.
The step count above is from the parking space nearest the Whale Park. The full walkway is about 550 steps. If you don’t mind bumpy seating, you can rest on the wall at any point along the way.
Not obvious from the road, stairs just north of the Whale Center ramp drop down to two prime viewing benches. More challenging to reach than the walkway or viewing deck, you can enjoy a bit of seclusion from the busy roadside while absorbing the beauty of the area from a front-row seat.
Whale Center viewing deck
At the south end of the Depoe Bay wayside, next to the entrance of the “world’s smallest harbor,” sits a building dedicated to promoting and studying whales. Part of the Oregon State Parks collective, the Whale Center is situated lower than the road, surrounded by level concrete and bordered by a stone wall matching the one that edges the roadside walkway. Reached via a long, wide ramp, in addition to offering beautiful views and a chance to spot whales, the area around the building contains a couple of signs covering tidbits of whale knowledge.