Haystack Happiness in Cannon Beach

By Ann Powers | Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Without a doubt our natural surroundings here on the North Coast are something to enjoy, as well as something to be cherished and preserved. So hats off to the Haystack Rock Awareness Program (HRAP) with the Cannon Beach Arts Association, which has been helping visitors and vocals alike learn about, appreciate and take care of our Pacific Northwest outdoor wonderland for decades.

A group of Cannon Beach citizens founded the program in 1983. Originally known as the Puffin Club (the Tufted Puffin is a seabird known for its dark body, bold white mask and golden head plumes), the group brought spotting scopes to tidepools for visitors to use and answered questions about the wildlife. The City of Cannon Beach incorporated the HRAP in 1985. Professionals and volunteers run the program, and it’s funded by the city, grants and donations.  

On February 1, HRAP launches its 34th season on the beach, aimed at protecting and bringing awareness to the intertidal and bird ecology of the Oregon Marine Garden and Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge at Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach. Through October, Rocky Shore Environmental Interpreters will be at the shore daily during low tide to educate folks about the tidepool and bird life found at Haystack Rock, a magnificent 235-foot-tall beach rock that’s an iconic image of the Oregon coast.

The free program changes with the seasons featuring bird scopes, aquaria stations, an interactive visitor table and much more. For example, every second Saturday, June through September, HRAP hosts family friendly beach crafts in front of Haystack Rock. Week-long summer day camps will be available for kids. And HRAP is teaming up with the Cannon Beach Arts Academy to offer a variety of workshops integrating conservation and art for all ages throughout the season.

Special events are another exciting aspect of the 2019 HRAP agenda. Nudibranch Safari is set for May 11, a celebration of the shell-less mollusks known for their intriguing shapes, magnificent hues and elaborate patterns. And Goonies Day is June 7, a tribute to The Goonies movie filmed in nearby Astoria back in 1985.

Other events you can look forward to include Sea Week kicking off April 30, Sand Castle Day set for June 6, Puffin Party and Parade on July 3 and many other save-the-date events you won’t want to miss. Go here for complete information of the events with times, dates and descriptions.

HRAP provides free guided tours of the area on most Saturdays during the season. These tours are great ways to get to know Haystack’s abundant sea creatures, such as sea stars, sea slugs, green anemones, crabs, snails, limpets, coral and sponges in the tidepools and intertidal zones. For a more intimate look, the 90 minute private guided tours of Haystack’s seashore led by Jesse Jones are very popular and always get rave reviews. Three different up close and personal excursions are available, including Totally TidepoolsAll About Birds and Wrack to Refuge. Tickets are $35 per person. For more information or to schedule a tour, contact Jesse at (503) 989-7244 or jones@ci.cannon-beach.or.us.

Feel like lending a helping hand? Whether you’re here for a day, week, month or year – HRAP welcomes volunteers of all ages. Volunteers participate in fun and endlessly interesting activities on the beach, behind the scenes and even make jewelry for the Trash Talk Project. The effort strives to keep marine debris off our Northern Oregon Coast beaches by transforming trash it into attractive, one of a kind wearable art.

There’s no minimum time commitment required to volunteer. If you’re interested, contact Education and Volunteer Coordinator Lisa Habecker, at habecker@ci.cannon-beach.or.us or (503) 436-8064. Teachers, instructors or groups wanting to schedule an interactive or virtual field trip should contact Lisa as well.

There are two beach wheelchairs available upon request for those needing accommodations while visiting Cannon Beach. It's a good idea to make your reservation a day in advance to ensure one is available. Call Andrea Suarez at (503) 440-2598 or email suarez@ci.cannon-beach.or.us.

Because the Northern Coast is no stranger to somewhat moody weather, all activities are weather permitting and subject to change – make sure you call ahead. HRAP officials can be reached at (503) 436-8060. For more information about HRAP and a complete list of the 2019 season’s schedule, go here

Now, go out and get some Haystack happiness! It's an adventure you won't soon forget. 

Photos courtesy of HRAP

About the Author Ann Powers
Ann Powers is a reporter and writer who has lived and worked on the Oregon Coast. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Madison and currently working on her master's degree in multimedia journalism at the University of Oregon's Portland campus. Originally from Wisconsin, she now calls Oregon home, describing it as, "the Midwest of the Pacific Northwest," due to its dairy-state status, beautiful environment and friendly people.