Located just a short drive north of popular Cannon Beach, Ecola State Park stretches along nine miles of Oregon coastline. The 1,023-acre park is probably best known for its rugged beauty and scenic vistas—some of which have been featured in movies such as The Goonies, Point Break and Twilight! The park offers views of sea stacks punctuating the shoreline to the south, forested headlands, a historic lighthouse and pristine beaches. Although the views and beaches draw a lot of attention, this park is also rich in history and an 8-mile segment of the Oregon Coast Trail travels right through Ecola State Park!
Ecola State Park offers year-round recreation for all types of explorers and sightseers. Have a picnic, take a stroll and photograph some of the most stunning views on the Oregon coast. If you’re interested in more activity, Ecola State Park offers several miles of hiking trails leading to dramatic ocean viewpoints.
We put together a list of what to see and do in Ecola State Park as well as some tips on how to plan a great visit. If you’re traveling to the Oregon coast, make sure Ecola State Park is on your list!
Ecola State Park Map, Courtesy of Oregon State Parks Department
THINGS TO DO AT ECOLA STATE PARK
From the north end of Cannon Beach, the entrance road winds through stands of Sitka spruce before arriving at the pay station. Ecola State Park Road provides access to two day-use areas with parking, viewpoints, picnic areas and bathroom facilities. Bring a picnic and plan to spend a half day visiting the park.
ECOLA POINT DAY-USE AREA
If you’re headed to Ecola Point, turn left after the pay station. The road emerges at a grassy bluff and parking area overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
- Explore and enjoy the views from Ecola Point. Ecola Point is the most southern area of the park and popular destination due to its proximity to Cannon Beach and the park entrance. Ecola Point overlooks Crescent Beach. Views to the south stretch past Cannon Beach where offshore sea stacks, including the prominent Haystack Rock, dot the coastline. Views to the north extend to Tillamook Head and the historic Tillamook Rock Lighthouse perched on a rock just over a mile offshore. A grassy hill with picnic tables also makes this a great spot for lunch with a view!
- Hike to Crescent Beach. From Ecola Point, hike the 1.25-mile trail down to Crescent Beach. This secluded and peaceful little beach sits between two well-known headlands, Ecola Point and Chapman Point. Explore the caves and waterfall on the north end of the beach. Just be prepared for un uphill climb on the way back!
- Hike the Indian Beach Trail. Unfortunately, part of the Indian Beach Trail washed out in spring of 2017, so you can’t hike all the way from Ecola Point to Indian Point. However, you can still hike partway on this trail which provides incredible views looking back at Ecola Point. Sea Lion Rock Arch can also be seen from a viewpoint just before Bald Point (near the trail closure).
- Bring binoculars if you enjoy birdwatching. Offshore rocks provide secure nesting sites for many species of seabirds. Sea lions and Harbor Seals also give birth to their pups on some of the same rocky islands.
INDIAN BEACH DAY-USE AREA
From Ecola Point, a short drive to the other side of the park leads to parking for Indian Beach and the Indian Beach day-use area. The park road leading to Indian Beach is narrow and unsuitable for RVs and trailers. Parking is limited.
- Take a stroll on Indian Beach. Indian Beach is the northernmost of the two beaches at Ecola State Park and sits at the base of Tillamook Head’s southern slope. Walk this beautiful stretch of sand and take in views of sea stacks offshore.
- Bring a picnic and relax on the beach. In the summertime, Indian Beach is a popular place for beachgoers and surfers. Kids will love exploring and playing in the sand!
- Explore the tide pools towards the southern end of the beach during low tide. Be sure to check the tide tables before your visit.
- Hike the 2.8-mile Clatsop Loop Trail, a segment of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. History buffs will enjoy tracing the route used by an expedition party from Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery. This interpretive trail runs from the Indian Beach parking area and climbs through a lush old-growth Sitka spruce forest to the Hikers’ Camp. Beyond the camp, take the short spur trail to the viewpoint which looks at the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse. Although decommissioned long ago, a basalt sea stack still supports what remains of “Terrible Tilly”.
Loop back to the parking lot via the Oregon Coast Trail, which winds along the coastline.
- If you’re looking for a longer hike, continue north on the Tillamook Head Trail. From Hikers’ Camp hike an additional four miles to the North Tillamook Head Trail parking area in Seaside. The Tillamook Head hike is steep and rough in spots, so be sure to wear hiking shoes or boots.
- Some of the higher ocean vantage points along the trails surrounding Indian Beach make for great whale watching! Prime viewing for migrating gray whales is during the winter months and late March.
- Visit Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach.
- Go hiking at Oswald West State Park.
- Explore the caves and tide pools at Hug Point State Park at low tide.
- Go shopping or visit some art galleries in Cannon Beach.
- Stroll the boardwalk at Seaside.
- Watch glassblowing at Icefire Glassworks.
- Buy a book from the quaint Cannon Beach Bookstore.
See the Ecola State Park map and trail guide for more information on park amenities and hiking trails.
HOW TO GET TO ECOLA STATE PARK
Ecola State Park is an hour and a half drive from Portland, Oregon. Getting to the park is easy with ample signage showing the way to the entrance at the south end of the park.
From 5th Street (the north end of Cannon Beach), head north on Ecola Park Road for 1½ miles to the fee station.
ECOLA STATE PARK FEE, PARK HOURS AND PARKING
The entry fee for day parking is $5. 12-month and 24-month day-use parking permits for Oregon State Parks are also available. The park ranger will provide a map of the park as well as a receipt (or pass) to display in your windshield.
The park is open from 8 am to 5 pm. Overnight parking is prohibited.
Parking is available at both Ecola Point and Indian Beach day-use areas. Parking is limited, especially at Indian Beach. We recommend arriving early in the morning or late in the afternoon during the busy summer season. Plan a midweek visit to avoid the worst of the crowds.
Note that the road into the park is unsuitable for RVs and trailer since it is narrow and winding in spots with no place to turn around.
WHERE TO STAY NEAR ECOLA STATE PARK/CANNON BEACH
Cannon Beach is just minutes from Ecola State Park and is a top vacation destination in the northwest. With a variety of dining options, shops and nearby beaches, Cannon Beach makes a great place to stay during your visit to the Oregon coast and Ecola State Park. There are numerous accommodation options in the area including luxury hotels, inns and bed and breakfasts.
We stayed at the Inn at Cannon Beach and found our double queen studio perfect for our family of five. We enjoyed the beautiful property, the morning breakfast buffet and having a private deck with Adirondack chairs to relax in at the end of the day. The welcome sand buckets were also a nice touch for our three kids!
ECOLA STATE PARK CAMPING
There’s no campground at Ecola State Park, but Hikers’ Camp is a great place to stay if you happen to be hiking the Oregon Coast Trail or are just looking to hike in and camp overnight. The small hikers’ camp consists of three rustic wooden shelters, each with four wooden bunks. There’s a vault toilet but no running water. Camping here is free, but overnight parking is not allowed inside the park. So, you’ll have to hike in from either Seaside or Cannon Beach. The shelters fill quickly in the summertime.
Campgrounds near Ecola State Park and Cannon Beach include:
ECOLA STATE PARK WEATHER
Although a popular year-round travel destination, summer is the most popular time to visit Ecola State Park and the Cannon Beach area due to mild weather and sunny skies. However, the best time of year to visit really depends on what types of activities you like to do. The quieter seasons—winter, spring and fall—have a lot to offer, too! Between October and May, the pace of life on Oregon’s coast changes dramatically.
In the winter, weather can be unpredictable. Some don’t mind the wild weather and seek out views of waves crashing against the rocky shore during a winter storm. Others wait for days with fair skies to enjoy walking a secluded beach. Winter is a great time of year for bird watchers and whale watchers. Gray whales can be spotted just off-shore between mid-December and mid-January as they migrate north.
Spring is also a great time to visit with abundant wildlife. Wildflowers bloom, birds nest on sea stacks and Roosevelt Elk are frequently seen in meadows and woodland areas. Puffins arrive at Haystack Rock in April and can be seen throughout the spring, and gray whales migrate just off-shore in late March.
Sunny skies tend to linger from summer into fall. Bird watchers enjoy watching fall migrations and pelicans can be seen in large numbers. Herds of elk, that retreat to higher elevations in the summer, reappear in the meadows.
TIPS FOR VISITING ECOLA STATE PARK
- Wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots if headed out for a hike.
- Pack insect repellant and sunscreen for summer hikes.
- Bring snacks and plenty of water on hikes to keep hydrated!
- Pack a camera and binoculars.
- Use the restroom at Ecola Point—it offers the only flush toilets in the park.
FOR YOUR SAFETY
- Be prepared for a possible wildlife encounter, if headed out on a hike. Keep your distance and do not approach or feed any wildlife.
- If traveling with a pet, keep your dog on a leash for its safety and for the comfort of wildlife.
- Never turn your back on the ocean! Be alert to waves and incoming tides when exploring the beach, caves or rocks along the shore.
Stay on the trail and do not create your own detours. Detours around closed sections of trail can be dangerous, cause erosion and damage plant life.
RELATED INFORMATION FROM JUST GO TRAVEL STUDIOS
- You are going to want to learn all about the Oregon Coast, and our blog on Things to Do on the Oregon Coast is just the place! We cover an overview on what to do along the entire coastline!
- While visiting Oregon, make sure you visit Crater Lake. Our Crater Lake National Park Itinerary can help you plan your trip!
- We’d love to work with you to take one of your photos and turn them into one of our unique, custom, vintage-style travel posters. If you haven’t tried this yet, we guarantee you won’t be disappointed!
OTHER INFORMATION ON THE OREGON COAST
- Amber (from “Story Chasing”) wrote a great blog on the Northern Oregon Pacific Coast Highway. This is a great guide for the must-see places around Ecola State Park.
- Lucy (from “A Travelers Footsteps”) talks about what to do when traveling south on the Oregon Coast in her blog-make sure you check it out before you head out here!
Regardless of what time of year you visit Portland or the Oregon coast, take a day trip to Ecola State Park. This coastal gem is a must-see for hikers, photographers and nature lovers!
If you have been to Ecola State Park or the Cannon Beach area and have favorite spots that we didn’t include in this post, please leave a comment or email us directly. We’re also happy to answer any questions that you might have!