Snapshot of the Region
Perched on the leading edge–and windward face–of a moving continent, Oregon is blessed with dynamic geology and varied climate. Being about half-way between the equator and the North Pole, and on the eastern edge of the Pacific, gives us a wonderfully moderate climate with wet winters and dry summers.
Thumbnail Sketch of Oregon Geology
The state’s key features are the old mountains in the northeast and southwest corners, the north-south running Cascade and Coast Ranges, the Willamette Valley between those two ranges, and the drier Central and Eastern half of the state.
[graphic by USGS]
The Oregon Coast features a repeating series of pattern of sandy beaches and rocky shores (about 60% and about 40%, respectively), with a few stretches of coastal dunes. Headlands are volcanic and sedimentary rock on the northern 2/3s of the coast, and mostly metamorphic rock on the southern 1/3 of the coast, giving the shoreline a surprising variety.
Click here for more about the geologic evolution of Oregon.
Thumbnail Sketch of Oregon’s Climate
In North America’s tectonic travels, Oregon ended up about half way between the equator and the pole (for the time being!) and on the receiving end of prevailing winds that come to us over the largest body of water on the planet. Prevailing winds here come from the chilly north in summer, keeping us cool and dry, and the balmy south in winter, keeping us not-too-cold and wet.
The north-south running mountains, along with the proximity of the Pacific, mean Oregon’s climates vary broadly from east to west. Notably, the high Cascade mountains in particular, serve as a barrier to moisture reaching the Central and Eastern regions: half of Oregon is near-desert.
Click here for more about the climate in the Coos Bay region of Oregon.
Thumbnail Sketch of Tides
Tides are a key occurrence that can greatly affect human activities along the shore. (Some activities, such as tidepooling and clamming, can be done only during low tides, for example.)
Click here to access this year’s tide chart for the Oregon Coast. (Note that tides are a bit different in different sites; check out the “correction table” for more precise predictions.)
(Planning to go tidepooling or clamming next year? More distant tide predictions are available. Contact us for more information.)
Thumbnail Sketch of the Oregon Coast’s Natural Communities
Because of its geology and climate, the Oregon Coast offers a wide variety of natural habitats to explore. Key elements determining what community is where are water, soil/substrate, temperature range.
Click on one of these highlighted habitats for more information.
Thumbnail Sketch of the Coos Area’s Human History
List of Public Access Trails in the Coos Region