Explore the Oregon Coast from a Port Employee's Point of View

This past month, one of our Port staff members took the iconic trip up the Oregon Coast from Coos Bay. Check out her perspective as a port employee and explore the diversity of some of Oregon's coastal ports north of Coos Bay. She also provides some travel tips along the way! 

Oregon has 23 ports providing a variety of recreational, commercial and economic services to residents and business in Oregon and beyond. 15 of these ports are coastal ports like the Port of Coos Bay and eight of these ports are located along the Columbia River. Oregon’s ports include Alsea, Arlington, Astoria, Bandon, Brookings Harbor, Cascade Locks, Coos Bay, Coquille River, Garibaldi, Gold Beach, Hood River, Morrow, Nehalem, Newport, Port Orford, Portland, Siuslaw, St. Helens, The Dalles, Tillamook Bay, Toledo Umatilla, Umpqua. The Port of Coos Bay is one of Oregon’s larger ports moving 1.5 million to 2 million cargo through the harbor every ear. According to the US Census data, that means that the Port of Coos Bay is the second largest port in terms of vessel shipping weight in the state following the Port of Portland.

coastal view

Last week, I was able to travel up the Oregon Coast for vacation which also meant being able to see many of Oregon coastal ports. Below are some facts on ports that I passed as well as some tips that I picked up along the way at each port city.

Located in Florence along the Siuslaw river is the Port of Siuslaw which is mainly a marina and campground. Both are located right by Historic Old Town Florence which a hub for tourists and visitors. The Port of Siuslaw boardwalk hosts Farmer’s Markets and other events throughout the year. We stopped for lunch in Old Town which has many great restaurants! 

We continued to travel up the Oregon Coast from Florence and made stops at Thor’s Well and Cape Perpetua. Eventually, we passed the town of Waldport. The Port of Alsea is located here and was the first port that the Port of Coos Bay team dredged using the state dredge, the Laura in 2016. Port of Alsea is located along the Alsea Bay and River and caters mainly to recreational boaters and fishermen.

About halfway up the coast lies the Port of Newport. It is one of the three deep draft coastal ports in Oregon along with the Port of Coos Bay and the Port of Astoria.  The Port of Newport has both a recreational and commercial marina with a total of about 650 moorage slips. It is the largest fishing port in Oregon landing about 115 million pounds of fish and shellfish with a value of $52.7 million in 2017. The Port of Newport also owns a RV Park and marine terminal facility. Walking along Newport’s Historic Bayfront, it is apparent that the working waterfront of the port has also become partly a tourist attraction. Visitors browsing through the shops and dining at restaurants also often stop to watch the loading and unloading of fish processing facilities located along the water front. 

An Oregon Coast trip is not complete without a stop at Tillamook for some cheese and ice cream! Tillamook also has a port, the Port of Tillamook Bay. The Port of Tillamook Bay owns the rights to a rail line which serves as a place for riding the rails with Oregon Coast Rail riders and as a hiking trail called the Salmonberry Trail. I have done both activities and totally recommend them to anyone going to Tillamook.

ships coming in and out

Next stop is the Port of Garibaldi. Our crew recently finished a dredging project for their marina removing 32,000 cubic yards of material! Port of Garibaldi owns and operates a marina and RV Park. The marina has several recreational and industrial businesses including lodging, restaurants, seafood processing, and a lumber mill. 

Finally, we made it to the Port of Astoria with its iconic Astoria-Megler bridge. The Port of Astoria is located at the mouth of the Columbia River and is the only port in Oregon that receives large cruise ships. The Port of Astoria properties include an airport, a couple shipping terminals, marina and a boatyard.  Since it is the gateway to ports along the Columbia River, we could see many cargo vessels lined up, waiting to head out or in from the Pacific Ocean. We stopped for breakfast on Pier 39 which used to be a seafood cannery. The breakfast place was so cute and provided great viewing of the ships coming in and out of the Columbia River.

Working for a port really puts things in a new perspective while traveling through coastal cities. Even from just the handful of ports that I traveled through, one can see that ports come in all different shapes and sizes. No one port is the same.  As owners of a rail line, deep-draft waterfront property, and the Charleston Marina complex, the Port of Coos Bay is also creating its own unique way to promote sustainable economic development in our state.