8 Interesting Facts About Oregon's Oswald West State Park
For visitors to the Oregon Coast, Oswald West State Park should be near the the top of your list of places to see. Here are a few reasons why you’ll want to check it out:
Rainforest — Bordering Arch Cape, Oregon’s Oswald West State Park is home to heavy temperate rainforest, a type of rainforest only found in a few places around the world. In addition to Oswald West, temperate rainforests are found in southern Chile, New Zealand and southern Norway, among other places.
Name Change — When it opened in 1931, Oswald West State Park was originally called “Short Sand Beach State Park,” a nod to the beautiful beach inside the park’s boundaries. In March 1956, the State Parks Commission changed the name to Oswald West State Park to honor Oregon governor Oswald West, who worked tirelessly to ensure all of the Oregon coast was publicly accessible.
Mighty Neahkahnie — Oswald West State Park is home to Neahkahnie Mountain, a breathtaking 1700-foot headland that’s part of the Northern Oregon Coast Range. Named by Native people as “place of the creator,” Neahkahnie was the subject of a 36-minute documentary about the legend of lost treasure on the mountain.
Marine Reserve — Oswald West State Park is also home to one of Oregon’s five marine reserves, the Cape Falcon Marine Reserve, a “natural area park in the ocean, established to protect wildlife and natural resources, and to provide baseline scientific monitoring to study as a living laboratory.”
Camping No More — In July 2009, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department closed the small, primitive, beachside overnight campsite inside Oswald West State Park after a tree fell without warning. Prior to closing, about 15,000 campers used the rustic 30-tent campground annually.
Sheep on Neahkahnie — Settlers arriving on the Oregon Coast in the 1870s discovered wide meadows, created by Native Americans who’d burned the trees to create open spaces that would attract elk and deer, on the south side of Neahkahnie Mountain. The meadows were perfect for the settlers’ grazing sheep.
Trails — In the early 1940s, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a government work relief program for unmarried, unemployed men that operated as part of FDR’s “New Deal,” built nearly 15 miles of hiking trails in Oswald West State Park. Trails include: South Neah-Kah-Nie Mountain Trail (1.3 miles), North Neah-Kah-Nie Mountain Trail (2 miles), Devil’s Cauldron Trail (0.1 miles), Elk Flats Trail (1.3 miles), Necarney Creek Trail (0.3 miles), South Beach Access Trail (0.1 miles), Cedar Crossing Trail (0.1 miles), Sitka Spruce Trail (0.2 miles), Old Growth Forest Trail(0.2 miles), Short Sand Beach Trail (0.5 miles), Kramer Memorial Trail (0.2 miles), Upper Short Sand Creek Trail (0.1 miles), Cape Falcon Trail (2.3 miles), Arch Cape to Cape Falcon Trail (6.5 miles).
Prime Spot for Whale Watching — Whale watchers have long regarded the Neahkahnie viewpoint off Highway 101 that overlooks Manzanita as a prime spot to see migrating gray whales.
For more information about Oswald West State Park, call us here at The Inn at Arch Cape, (503) 436-2082.