Central Oregon Coast
Seal Rocks - sometimes great photographic opportunities are just off of the highway. Seal Rock is one of those. This location is an easy walk from the Seal Rock State Recreation parking lot and offers tons of great compositions using the many uniquely shaped sea stacks, ocean flow, sea gulls, and crashing waves.
Trail Difficulty (2 out of 5)
I would rate the difficulty of this trail as a 2 on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being most difficult). To get to the Seal Rock beach, it is a moderately easy ½ mile walk from the Seal Rock State Park parking lot. The hike includes walking down a cement ramp to the beach. Once on the beach, you might have to walk through some water or mud on the beach.
GPS Coordinates & Elevation
5 Ft Elevation
Google Maps Birds-Eye-View
Click on image to enlarge
CLICK HERE to get driving directions the Seal Rock State Park parking lot.
Seal Rock is 5 miles north of Waldport, OR and 11 miles south of Newport, OR.
From Waldport, OR, drive approximately 5.1 miles north on US 101 and turn left (west) into Seal Rock State Recreation Site parking lot. From the parking lot, walk about 100yds. south on a well maintained trail through some trees/bushes. Once through the trees, you will see a concrete ramp that will lead you down to the beach.
Best Time of Day to Shoot
Seal Rocks is on the Oregon coast, which means most of the time you will be looking westward. Normally, this means the best time to shoot would be late afternoon, evening, or sunset. However, the coastline is often engulfed in a marine layer (dense fog). For this reason, I believe you can shoot this location in either the early morning or at evening/sunset.
Best Time of Year to Shoot
The ocean/beach is not greatly affected by the time of year. The sunset is to the left in the fall /winter/spring and center right in the summer.
What Lens(es) Do You Need
The above shot was taken with a 24mm lens. You can use anything from a 16mm to a 35 mm lens – depending on the composition you are looking for.
There are no permits required.
Direction of the Shot
The direction of the shot is west at 250°.
Special Nuances of Shot
There are many ways to shoot the Seal Rocks. Most are pretty straightforward. I would suggest scouting the area before evening/sunset to find the composition that is best for you.
Special Equipment Needed
You will need a tripod. If you wish lower your shutter speed to create movement in the ocean, you will need a neutral density (ND) filter. The above image was shot with a 15 second exposure. Another item to consider is waders/wet shoes, as you will most likely be walking/sitting in water.
Remember, you are on the coast and the spray from the ocean can create problems with your camera/lens. I would suggest bringing some kind of rain sleeve for your camera and lens cloth to wipe down your lens.
Number of Other Photographers to Expect
Seal Rock beach is a moderately popular location for tourists and photographers. Unless you arrive early or stay late, you will have to share the location with many other people.
The weather on the Oregon coast is mild in the spring, summer, and fall, and it rains about 75 inches a year. Winter can be cold, wet, and produce strong storms/waves.
The Oregon coastline can often be totally “socked in” from the marine layer (dense fog). Be sure you to bring rain gear.
I use Verizon, and the cell service is spotty along the Oregon coast – and is hit or miss at Seal Rock.
Seal Rock is a small community with limited lodging. I have stayed at the Seal Rocks RV Cove before, which is directly across from the Seal Rock Beach. The closest larger towns are Waldport (5 miles south) or Newport (11 miles north).
Nearby camping and lodging
Camping - click on the campground below for directions
Seal Rocks RV Cove - across from beach
Lodging - click on the lodging below for a TripAdvisor review
190 SW Hwy 101, Waldport, OR
Starfish Point Motel
1140 NW 48th St, Newport, OR
Restaurants in Seal Rock are limited. When I am in the area, I drive to Newport and eat at either Local Ocean or Café Stephanie. Both offer good seafood and reasonable prices.
Nearby Restaurants - click on the restaurant below for yelp review
Local Ocean Seafoods
213 SE Bay Blvd, Newport, OR 97365
411 NW Coast St, Newport, OR
The closest laundry mat is in Waldport, OR
215 Oregon Coast Hwy., Waldport, OR
Other Photography Opportunities Around
The closest airport is in Portland, OR. Portland International airport (PDX) services most of the major airlines in the US.
Area Guides and Workshops
If you were looking for a GREAT photography guide for Pacific Northwest (Oregon and Washington areas) - I can highly recommend Mark Metternich. I have taken workshops with Mark in the past and he has been hosting workshops in the Pacific Northwest for many years.
Mark knows all the VERY best places to take you and just the right time to be there - to help you get the shot. He is a great photographer, an expert at photoshop, an excellent guide/instructor and a super nice guy.
The Photographer's Ephemeris is a very valuable tool for landscape photographers to determine the direction of the sunrise/sunset & moonrise/moonset from any place on earth on any day (past and future). Click here to take you to The Photographer's Ephemeris for this location.