Take This Scenic Side Trip Off The Oregon Coast Highway


Even if you’ve driven it before, the Oregon Coast Highway will surprise you time and time again with its natural beauty. The route passes by several parks where you can go hiking and camping, sandy beaches where you can stroll by the ocean and through charming small towns where there’s plenty to see and do. But on the central coast, between Depoe Bay and Otter Rock, there’s a short and sweet side trip you take just off the highway known as Otter Crest Loop for even more amazing views.

The 4.2-mile detour first branches off Highway 101 south of Depoe Bay, with an easy-to-miss sign that marks the turn-off. Not far after the loop begins, it passes the beautifully designed Ben Jones Bridge, which spans Rocky Creek.

As you travel further south you’ll pass Cape Foulweather – with stunning scenery out your window but few places to pull over and soak in views until Otter Crest State Scenic Viewpoint. This breathtaking overlook sits about 500 feet above the ocean, with commanding views of the rugged coastline and white sandy beach below.

During certain times of the year the loop also provides amazing opportunities for whale watching. You can typically count on seeing Oregon’s grey whales migrating here from June through early October.

Continuing south, the road cuts through lush coastal forest to Devil’s Punchbowl, a natural formation that fills with ocean water when the tide is high. You can park and get views from an observation point from above, or hike down a short path to the bowl at low tide.

While you’re in the area, check out the small free tasting room at Flying Dutchman Winery and grab lunch from Mo’s West, an Oregon favorite for seafood and burgers.

The loop reconnects with the highway just north of Beverly Beach State Park, taking about a half hour to a few hours total, depending on how much time you have to stop and explore. After you’re back on the highway, continue all the way down the coast to see the tons of other highlights – like the Sea Lion Caves and the 12-mile Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor.

Have you driven the Otter Crest Loop before? We’d love to hear about your experience below.