Whale Watching at Oregon State Parks

September 21, 2021

view from cape mears state scenic lookout with a text overlay saying Whale watching at oregon state parks

What is it that draws you to Oregon State Parks? 

This coastal state is filled with both wild adventure and peaceful tranquility. From rugged mountain ranges and high-profile volcanoes to lush evergreen forests and an abundance of crystal clear lakes, it's no secret that Oregon sits on vastly diverse terrain. 

But did you know that Oregon is also home to more than 20 parks and viewpoints offering excellent spots for whale watching along the Pacific Coast?  

If getting a glimpse of these magnificent creatures is on your bucket list, you’ll want to keep reading! 

Gray Whales along Oregon’s Coast

As adults, gray whales are massive mammals that can reach up to 39 feet long and weigh, on average, 60,000 pounds. They are naturally curious animals that make one of the longest migrations spanning 10,000 to 14,000 miles round-trip every year. 

Although you can view gray whales from the Oregon coast throughout the entire year, it is during their migration that visitors come in droves to witness their passing. From mid-December through mid-January, some 20,000 gray whales travel south from Alaska to Mexico. 

Their return to Alaska (this time, often accompanied by calves) begins in late March and lasts through May. And during the summer months, an estimated 200 resident whales feed near the shore.

It's also not uncommon to spot humpback whales, porpoises, dolphins, orcas and even blue whales from vistas along Oregon's coast. 

The Depoe Bay Whale Watching Center (although temporarily closed due to Covid-19) sits along the central coast and is managed by Oregon State Park staff and volunteers. It is an excellent place to learn more about whale spotting and the beautiful creatures themselves! 

Whale Watching at Oregon State Parks

Visitors are encouraged to attend Whale Watch Weeks in March and December as the gray whales make their way north and south along their migration journey.

During Whale Watch Weeks, you'll find volunteers and state park staff at each of the following parks and designated viewing areas, assisting visitors hoping to catch a glimpse of the gray whales. 

  • Harris Beach State Park
  • Cape Foulweather
  • Battle Rock Wayside Park
  • Cook's Chasm Turnout
  • Neahkahnie Mountain Historic Marker
  • Shore Acres State Park 
  • The Inn at Spanish Head
  • Umpqua Lighthouse State Park
  • Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint
  • The Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area
  • Devil's Punchbowl State Natural Area
  • Don Davis Park
  • Sea Lions Cave Turnout
  • Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area
  • Cape Lookout State Park
  • Boiler Bay State Scenic Viewpoint
  • Ecola State Park 
  • Face Rock Scenic Viewpoint
  • Fort Stevens State Park 
  • Cape Ferrelo Viewpoint
  • Rocky Creek State Scenic Viewpoint

These Oregon State Parks and viewpoints are prime locations for whale watching along the Pacific Coast, whether you visit during Whale Week or some other time throughout the year!

Wildlife Moments to Treasure

When you think of viewing wildlife, thoughts of common critters like deer, squirrels and birds might come to mind—but perhaps not whales, which is why these Oregon State Parks and natural areas are so unique and precious. 

But don't leave for a whale-watching adventure without an Oregon State Parks Bucket Journal! You'll need this to record your experiences and the fine details of your trip, like where you had the best view and how many whales you saw at each park you visited. 

Not every park and viewpoint listed above has a designated page in this bucket journal—but that's the beauty of it. You'll have space to add your own Oregon stops in addition to the more than 150 park and recreation area pages from all across the state! 

Have you been whale watching in Oregon (or elsewhere)? And were you successful? Let us know in the comments!

view from cape mears state scenic lookout with a text overlay saying Whale watching at oregon state parks

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