With its dense forest, rocky headland, miles of open beaches, and majestic river, Newport has no shortage of wildlife viewing options. Hundreds of migratory birds and gray whales pass by during the spring and fall, but plenty of other species can be found here year-round. Depending on when you visit, you may behold pods of pelicans, and raucous sea lions, or even catch a rare sighting of an orca hunting in Yaquina Bay. And whether you decide to do your wildlife viewing out in nature or within the dry and warm confines of an educational center, it's safe to say you won’t be disappointed with what you see. Check our list of ways to catch wildlife around Newport below.
Bird watching is a favorite pastime for visitors and locals alike. Newport is home to countless natural habitats of coastal birds and has a variety of exceptional locations for viewing your favorite species. Visit Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area to observe the largest Common Muir colonies on the coast. Or hike along the Yaquina Bay Estuary Trail and look out for Bald Eagles, Peregrine Falcons, and White-tailed Kites. Are you trying to spy on a Brown Pelican or Yellow-billed Loon? Check out the observation deck at the Yaquina Bay State Park. Or, if you want your birding made easy, visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium’s aviary, one of the largest seabird aviaries in North America. Here you can observe Tufted Puffins, Rhinoceros Auklets and Pigeon Guillemots.
Whale watching is a year-round activity in Newport; however, there are specific months in which certain whales are migrating to either Alaska or Mexico that provide a better chance to observe them. In fact, Oregon State Parks host two whale watching weeks each year, so be sure to align your visit to Newport with those dates for ultimate whale viewing.
For a close-up perspective of whale life, charter a whale watching trip and journey to the open ocean. Out there you can take in beautiful views of the coast while scanning the waters around you for whale activity. If staying on dry land is more your style, visit Don & Ann Davis Park. This park has panoramic views of the ocean and provides excellent opportunities for spotting whales near and far from the shore. Another optimal place to catch whales is near Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area; whales are often spotted here swimming close to the rocks.
For some lively and entertaining wildlife watching, head down to the Bayfront to check out the California sea lion population. Eleven months out of the year adult and sub-adult male sea lions call Yaquina Bay home. During July they migrate to California to breed with the females, who stay there all year long. It’s hard to miss them swimming around the bay with their heads popping up from time to time, or snoozing on the rock jetty surrounding the docks. However, the best place to view them is at Port Dock One. Here you can witness the non-stop, dramatic action of dozens of these vociferous creatures jockeying for space on the floating docks. Although they may look cute and cuddly, these 1,000-pound mammals covet their nap time and can be pretty savage when disturbed.
Always full of unique surprises, tide pools offer incredible peeks into microcosms of marine life. Tide pools are ideal for investigating at low tide when the ocean has retreated leaving small pools of seawater in the sand and by rocks. You’ll often find anemones, crustaceans, small fish, and sea stars are often nestled within. Cobble Beach on Yaquina Head is a popular place for tide pooling as are the north and south jetties.
To make your adventure safe for all, always keep an eye on the surf and only walk on dry, bare rocks to avoid injuring tide pool plants and animals. Also, please refrain from touching, moving, or poking at the animals.
Whichever adventure you chose, we hope your time spent viewing Newport's wildlife is full of fun and memories that will last a lifetime!