Category Archives: wildlife

Grant’s Getaways: Fall Expedition in the Coast Range

Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Mother’s Day events at Shore Acres, Vista House & Silver Falls (2015)

RhododendronShore Acres State Park

Many flowers in the Shore Acres formal garden will be blooming May 10, but Mother’s Day is all about the rhododendrons, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. The Southwestern Oregon Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society will have displays and experts on hand to answer your questions. The Friends of Shore Acres will serve cookies, punch and coffee in the Garden House. The event is free, but day-use parking is $5. Shore Acres State Park is 12 miles southwest of Coos Bay on the Cape Arago Highway.

Vista House at Crown Point

Celebrate Mother’s Day with a Columbia River Gorge view. From 11 a.m.-3 p.m., displays inside Vista House will feature 1910-1920 photos of women in the Gorge, and flower arrangements. Corsages available for moms. The event and parking are free. Vista House is about 30 miles east of Portland on the Historic Columbia River Highway.

Silver Falls State Park

Mother’s Day weekend at Silver Falls features native plants, wildflowers and birds May 9-10, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at the South Falls day-use area. This year marks the 37th anniversary of the event, which includes guided nature walks, live raptor flyovers and wildflower sketching classes. See the Event Guide at the Discover Silver Falls blog for times and places. The event is free, but day-use parking is $5.

Make your reservations now for Mother’s Day Brunch at The Silver Falls Lodge and Conference Center. Seating times are available at 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m., May 10. Call (866) 575-8875 for your reservation and free family portrait. Free parking at the Conference Center only for the brunch.

Silver Falls State Park is about 30 miles southeast of Salem on Highway 214.

2015 Silver Falls Birding & Wildflower Festival


Spring whale watching wonders (2015)

Laurel Hillmann

Laurel Hillmann

Our own Ocean Shores Resource Specialist Laurel Hillmann took her family to the coast earlier this month and spotted gray whales off Cape Lookout. She shares her trip as a reminder to start planning your own family whale excursion during Spring Break. See the bottom of this story for Spring Whale Watch Week (March 21-28) information.

On a recent beautiful Sunday, my family and I set out from the Willamette Valley looking for a coastal adventure. How could we not on such a clear and unseasonably warm March day? We decided on Cape Lookout, where we could enjoy a family friendly hike and possibly glimpse the season’s first whales migrating north to their summer grounds.

Cape Lookout looking south toward Cape Kiwanda

After about a mile on the 2.4-mile Cape Trail, an opening in the lush vegetation provides for one of the most amazing views on the Oregon coast. Even if you don’t need a break—with two small kids in tow, we certainly did— it is hard to pass up. The vantage point, framed by large Sitka spruce trees, provides for sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean. On rare days like this, it’s as calm and inviting as a large bath-tub.

It didn’t take long for a spout to catch our attention, and we enjoyed watching what appeared to be several whales. My daughter believes it was a mamma whale and her baby, which it very well could have been this time of year. The headland sits up above the ocean at over 800 feet in places, so I admit to briefly lamenting our lack of binoculars (a casualty of rushing out the door). However, we could still see the gray backs of the whales as they broke the glassy surface.

I hope I never lose the sense of wonder kids express when doing or seeing something for the first time. I certainly never tire of seeing whales, even at a distance! While the whales stole the show for my kids, it’s impossible not to wonder at Cape Lookout’s magnificent coastal views showcasing the sandy beaches and dunes around Sand Lake, Cape Kiwanda and Haystack Rock at almost 10 miles away. On a clear day like this one, we were even able to see as far as Cascade Head (20 miles south) and Cape Foulweather (almost 40 miles south), two other amazing spots to visit for whale watching.  We also passed the season’s first wildflowers, including trillium, a sure sign that spring is upon us.

Trillium on the Cape Lookout Trail

We ended our trip playing in the sand and taking in the scenery at Cape Kiwanda. The monolithic Haystack Rock at Pacific City juts out of the Pacific at an estimated height of over 340 feet! It was fun to see it up close-up after looking down on it from afar up on Cape Lookout. Someday our kids will be old enough to stick it out just a bit longer in the car, and we’ll make it up to Oregon’s other Haystack Rock and explore one of my other favorite coastal parks, Ecola—another great spot for whale-watching.

Cape Kiwanda Haystack Rock

Spring Whale Watch Week, March 21-28

Trained volunteers will be stationed at 24 Whale Watching Spoken Here sites March 21-28, 10 a.m. -1 p.m. to help you see the gray whales migrating north. Mothers and their calves are headed to the waters off Alaska.

If you’re along the central coast, stop by the Whale Watching Center  in Depoe Bay.