Insider’s guide to Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area


Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area is a breathtaking coastal destination located in Pacific City, Oregon. With its stunning natural beauty, diverse wildlife, and endless outdoor activities, it is a must-visit for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. In this insider’s guide, we will explore the wonders of Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area, from its unique geological formations to its rich history and recreational opportunities.

Geological Wonders

Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area is known for its remarkable geological formations that have been shaped by the forces of nature over millions of years. The most iconic feature is the towering sandstone dune known as Cape Kiwanda, which offers panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and the surrounding coastline. The constantly changing patterns of the dune make it a favorite spot for photographers and nature lovers.

Another geological wonder in the area is the Haystack Rock, a massive sea stack that rises 327 feet above the ocean. It is home to a variety of seabirds, including puffins, cormorants, and gulls. During low tide, visitors can explore the tide pools around the base of the rock, where they can discover a diverse array of marine life.

Flora and Fauna

Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area is teeming with a rich diversity of flora and fauna. The coastal dunes are home to a variety of plant species, including beach grass, shore pine, and wildflowers. These plants play a crucial role in stabilizing the dunes and providing habitat for numerous animal species.

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The area is also a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, with opportunities to spot a wide range of animals. Gray whales can often be seen migrating along the coast during the spring and fall months, while seals and sea lions can be spotted sunbathing on the rocks. Birdwatchers will be delighted by the abundance of avian species, including bald eagles, ospreys, and pelicans.

Recreational Activities

Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area offers a plethora of outdoor activities for visitors of all ages. The sandy beach is perfect for sunbathing, beachcombing, and building sandcastles. The rolling waves make it a popular spot for surfing, kayaking, and paddleboarding.

For those seeking a thrill, hang gliding and paragliding are popular activities in the area. The strong coastal winds and the towering dunes provide the perfect conditions for these adrenaline-pumping adventures.

Hiking enthusiasts will find an extensive network of trails that wind through the natural area, offering breathtaking views of the coastline and the surrounding landscape. The Cape Kiwanda Trail is a must-try, as it takes visitors on a scenic journey along the cliffs and provides access to hidden coves and secluded beaches.

History and Culture

Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area has a rich history that dates back thousands of years. The area has been inhabited by Native American tribes for centuries, who relied on the abundant natural resources for their survival. Today, visitors can learn about the cultural heritage of the area through interpretive displays and guided tours.

The natural area also has a strong connection to the fishing industry, which has been a vital part of the local economy for generations. Pacific City is known for its dory fleet, small fishing boats that are launched directly from the beach. Visitors can witness the dory boats being launched and even take a ride with an experienced fisherman.

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  • Q: Are pets allowed in Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area?

    A: Yes, pets are allowed in the natural area, but they must be kept on a leash at all times.
  • Q: Can I camp in Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area?

    A: Camping is not allowed within the natural area itself, but there are nearby campgrounds where visitors can stay.
  • Q: Are there any facilities in Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area?

    A: The natural area has restroom facilities, picnic areas, and parking lots for visitors’ convenience.
  • Q: Can I go fishing in Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area?

    A: Fishing is allowed in the adjacent Pacific Ocean, but visitors must comply with the state fishing regulations.
  • Q: Are there any guided tours available in Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area?

    A: Yes, there are guided tours available that provide in-depth information about the natural and cultural history of the area.


Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area is a hidden gem on the Oregon coast, offering a unique blend of natural beauty, outdoor activities, and cultural heritage. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or an opportunity to connect with nature, this coastal paradise has something for everyone. Plan your visit to Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area and prepare to be amazed by its awe-inspiring landscapes and unforgettable experiences.