US Highway 101

A deer crosses US Highway 101 as it winds through mountains and beaches, stacks and forest in the distance

By

101 goes by many names.

Many vacationers to California know her as the Pacific Highway. SoCal residents add a little more status, referring to her as “The 101”. Where she winds through the some of the world’s largest and oldest trees, in Northern Cali, she goes by the pseudonym Redwood Highway. 70’s folk rockers America made her famous when they sung of the free wind blowin’ through her hair via the stretch known as Ventura Highway. She’s El Camino Real in the south and the Olympic Highway as she wraps around the Olympic National Park in Washington state.

Countless hitchhikers have known her simply as “home”.

Like the host of rock n’ rollers who’ve sung about her over the years, she’s a rule breaker. Technically, US 101 begins in a little city just off of Puget Sound by the name of Tumwater, Washington. From there, its southerly route begins by immediately heading north and then east, looping the Olympic Peninsula in all of its misty, bald eagled charm. Even her very name, US Highway 101, goes against the traditional numbering system that governs where highways should fall on the map. Like many of her fellow US Highways, she’s been replaced by Interstates in places, and so she now, for reasons of map reading and legalism, terminates in Los Angeles, in some form or another she keeps on trucking the whole way south to San Diego. Hop the border and onto Mexico 1 if you want to keep heading south, all the way down the Baja California Peninsula. Or take a ferry into British Columbia and join up with Canada’s Trans-Canada Highway and cross back over the continent via our northern neighbor.

101 passes through two National Parks—Olympic and Redwood, both of which are temperate rainforests—through all three western states, generally hugging the coastline all the way down as it meanders through American legends like San Francisco and Hollywood, as well as every last mile of Oregon’s North Coast. Short of the now defunct, fabled Route 66, it’s without a doubt America’s best known road and perhaps the single most gorgeous stretch of mostly two lanes your wheels can roll across.

While it would actually be pretty difficult to move along any given portion of 101 and not have your eyes widened by the scenery abounding, while visiting the North Coast we highly recommend beginning from Manzanita and heading north, all the way to Long Island, Washington, if you’ve got a day or so to spare. Since much of the trip, particularly once you get north of Cannon Beach, is flat, this is a great stretch to do on a bicycle, but of course no one would blame you if you let your motorized automobile do the leg work while you kicked back and enjoyed the view. We could while away several more pages with our best attempt at describing what this stretch of the country looks like, but instead we’ll leave you with this collection of photographs.

20184941_3e06f64dea_o
Windswept beach from Ecola State Park. Photo by Joshua Garr
73441472_9e6599783b_b
Bridge in Oswald West State Park. Photo by Mark Schindler
153290167_82f99288aa_o
Barnacle in Seaside. Photo by Ben Amstutz
214739275_d2a4717d04_o
Cliff north of Manzanita. Photo by Duane Moore
2190929775_dddc9ef346_b
Photo by Kathleen
2425193520_5af9541959_o
Astoria. Photo by DR Burtoni
2666187566_558e3eccea_b
Nehalem Bay. Photo by Judson Hall
2668147103_18f8fb007d_b
Oswald West State Park. Photo by Paul Hamilton
2849216367_287646d35d_b
Photo by Shubert Ciencia
2901072759_d5174d780c_b
Tillamook Rock Lighthouse. Photo by Alex Derr
2999527261_e511be38cb_o
Cape Disappointment Lighthouse. Photo by Ben Amstutz
3288975303_201dba5e9b_o
Photo by Ben Amstutz
3296195993_56076dd397_b
Photo by Doug van Kampen
3299892266_9ba337b955_b
Photo by Cocoa Dream
3597171364_d810193f76_o
Photo by Pat Teglia
3673111025_a6685fddef_b
Photo by Ian Boggs
3964237040_9400bffc70_b
Photo by Harold Hollingsworth
4320525020_5c916dc02d_o
Photo by US Coast Guard
4556795547_c4573130c1_b
Photo by Jami Dwyer
4663491325_2a2f59e00b_b
Photo by Tony J Case
4743612111_e96b15f6e1_b
Photo by Seaside Visitors Bureaua
4939015192_412dd790cc_b
Photo by Jon Martin
5032799561_71cd6771ee_b
Photo by Tony J Case
SONY DSC
Photo by David Patte/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
5351960117_c06c1fe6bb_b
Photo by Oregon Department of Transportation
5352565732_4d27b95cb2_b
Photo by Oregon Department of Transportation
5566698705_cf4e096810_b
Photo by Andika Murandi
5584141763_91e5492be0_b
Photo by David Evans
100516-G-6562L-002
Photo by Andika Murandi
5922748907_2ff80cea3c_b
Photo by David and Becky
6006468383_58d810b3d5_b
Photo by Dan Klimke
Oregon Coast
Photo by Kay Gensler
6248608081_c7f81ca26a_b
Photo by GC Menezes
6307905240_41576921d4_b
Photo by Jim Simandl
6381395343_966c6a353d_b
Photo by Lance V
6718795911_7101a1afa1_b
Photo by Mari Wirta
6792125035_0d41739db5_b
Photo by OvO
IMG_0042
Photo by Nathan Swartz
IMG_0049
Photo by Nathan Swartz
IMG_0071
Hug Point. Photo by Nathan Swartz
IMG_0083
Cape Falcon. Photo by Nathan Swartz
IMG_0098_2
Photo by Nathan Swartz
IMG_0103
US 101 by night. Photo by Nathan Swartz
IMG_0113
Beach house. Photo by Nathan Swartz
IMG_0118
Photo by Nathan Swartz
IMG_0154
Arch Cape. Photo by Nathan Swartz
IMG_0168
A pregnant woman overlooks Manzanita. Photo by Nathan Swartz
IMG_0169_2
Elk in Manzanita. Photo by Nathan Swartz
IMG_0228
Morning tide. Photo by Nathan Swartz
IMG_0246
Sand dune hill at Manzanita. Photo by Nathan Swartz
IMG_0270
Remnants of a rare snow. Photo by Nathan Swartz
IMG_1148
Rare snow on Manzanita Beach. Photo by Nathan Swartz
IMG_1266
Neahkahnie Mountain and Village. Photo by Nathan Swartz
IMG_1372
The Octopus Tree in Netarts, OR. Photo by Nathan Swartz
IMG_1448
Lighthouse on Cape Disappointment. Photo by Nathan Swartz
IMG_1455
Long Beach, WA. Photo by Nathan Swartz
IMG_1461
Long Beach, WA. Photo by Nathan Swartz
IMG_1569
Abandoned ship. Photo by Nathan Swartz
IMG_1592
Rockaway Beach. Photo by Nathan Swartz

If you made it this far, we have better news than even these photographs were able to portray…that being that even with this somewhat very large collection of photos, the amount to see and do in this three county stretch of Oregon would leave one taking pictures for years before they ever managed to see it all. So hop on your bike, get in your car, or stick out your thumb and get yourself up and down that 101.end of article