Blustery weather doesn’t have to signal the end of you experiencing fun coastal activities – this is Oregon after all! And as Oregonians like to say around here, “there is no bad weather, only bad clothing choices!” Winter is an incredible time to visit the coast for so many reasons. Crowds are nonexistent, parking is substantially more accessible, the weather is dramatic, and some of the best adventures are waiting for you to discover them. There are so many things to do in winter, from Oregon whale watching to hiking waterfalls. We want to share five great winter activities that you may enjoy.
One of the most exciting experiences on our coast is storm watching. Sitting inside, sipping a hot drink, and watching Mother Nature put on a show is an experience everyone should have. The best part? It is 100 times more dramatic at any of the great viewpoints just a few miles north of us. Ask our staff for helpful tips after you check in.
If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can find a safe viewpoint and watch the storm in your front-row seat. If you do decide to venture out during a storm, make sure you dress for the action: warm layers, waterproof outerwear, hats, gloves, waterproof shoes, and a camera to capture the dramatic scenes are all a must. Be sure to stay off jetties, rocky outcroppings at wave level, and large logs if you decide to get close to the action.
Oregon Whale watching
Whales can be seen off the coast year-round, but the height of the whale watching season occurs from mid-December to mid-January. Thousands of gray whales migrate between Alaska and their breeding grounds in Baja, California. There are so many locations along our Oregon Coast where you can see the whales right from the shore.
Whale watching is a super easy and fun activity, but there are a couple of tips that will enhance your experience even more. Morning is the best time to view the whales as the sun will be behind you and will make them easier to see. Use your naked eye to spot their spouts, and then look more closely with your binoculars. You might even consider taking a chartered excursion to get even closer to the beautiful creatures. Take a look at our comprehensive winter whale watching guide here.
If you love waterfalls, winter is your best friend. When the Pacific Northwest rains increase, our waterfalls become far more dramatic, surging with the extra rainwater. There are numerous, beautiful trails along the coast, leading to these showstoppers. Here are several waterfall hikes worth checking out; Sweet Creek Falls, Beaver Creek Falls, North Fork Falls, and Kentucky Falls.
Hiking in the winter presents some extra considerations when it comes to safety and comfort. Layers are your best friend on the trails. A warm base layer, waterproof outer layers, sturdy waterproof hiking shoes, and a hat will all be helpful when out in our unpredictable weather. Bring water, snacks, and a change of clothes in the trunk of your car. Save the trail map on your phone and review the trail info before you go. Paper maps are available at US and state forest service offices and at the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce, 290 Highway 101 in Florence.
Catching crabs and steelhead fishing
The winter steelhead run starts around Thanksgiving and is at its peak by mid-winter, making it a fantastic choice for your next adventure. Additionally, while crabbing is always in season, winter brings you the biggest bounty. You can either go by yourself or there are several commercial charter companies to take you out on the river and over the bar to the ocean. For a complete guide for fishing, click here. If you’re interested in crabbing, click here.
Whether you’re dropping a trap from a boat or fishing from a dock, and you’ll have a fantastic crab feast for your next meal!
Metal detecting and beachcombing
Metal detecting and beachcombing after a winter storm are always fun. Storms disrupt the shoreline and uncover all sorts of treasures including beautiful shells and sand dollars, interesting driftwood for yard décor or arts and crafts, and oddities from overseas. And if you have a metal detector, jewelry, coins, or even ancient pirate booty are just waiting to be uncovered. You’ll also find that very few people are on the beach, which adds to the relaxing experience of treasure hunting.
There are a few tips to help you find hidden treasures on your next beach hunt. First, check out the tide tables and go when the tide is low. High tide churns up lots of potential finds, which then settle to the shore as the tide recedes. Do always keep an eye on the tide, though, as it can catch you unawares as it comes back in. Watch for sneaker waves, stay away from debris, and respect the power and danger of the sea.
There’s so much more to our coast than summertime activities, and now is the prime time to take your next adventure! Don’t let the weather stop you – blustery days are crucial to enjoying our top winter activities. Take the first step today and book a fabulous room at the River House Inn as your home base. By participating in these great winter activities, you will likely go home with incredible photos, stories, and memories.