Cannon Beach is one of the more popular tourist destinations in Oregon and if you are planning a visit, you are certainly in for a very memorable and inspiring experience.
Listed by National Geographic in 2013 as one of the world’s 100 most beautiful places, Cannon Beach is best known for Haystack Rock, a sea stack formation jutting along the coast.
Cannon Beach draws hundreds of tourists every year. An overnight stay at Cannon Beach is usually included as part of the itinerary for visitors to the city of Portland.
It is also common for Portland residents to spend their weekends in Cannon because of the relatively close proximity of only 108 kilometers and the extremely relaxing seaside ambiance.
Getting from Portland to Cannon Beach is not difficult at all. There are several options that you can choose from. Your choice will depend mostly on your budget, your available time and your travel preference.
You can take a leisurely road trip that will take a little under two hours, or you can take the bus. If you are up for a more robust outdoor adventure and have a lot of time to spend, you can also bike from Portland to Cannon Beach and really enjoy the sights along the way. Here are the different options in more detail…
Traveling from Portland to Cannon Beach by Car
The various car routes from Portland to Cannon Beach are quite pleasant. You will see majestic trees, gorgeous waterfalls and majestic views of the coast, depending on the specific route you choose.
Typically, road trips from Portland to Cannon Beach will have you drive through Highway 26 West until you reach the junction of Highway 101, then drive a further 4 miles south along Highway 101.
This is equivalent to a total of 127 kilometers of road that will take you an average of 1 hour and 49 minutes. However, you don’t have to worry about becoming bored because there are plenty of interesting sites along the way to keep you entertained.
Driving is a very affordable way to get from Portland to Cannon Beach so if you are trying to minimize your spending and you have your own car with you, you will find this to be a feasible option. The drive will cost you around $18 for gas.
However, this does not include the fee for the rental car and toll. All in all, driving to Cannon Beach is a fast travel method since the roads are excellent and traffic is very light.
Traveling from Portland to Cannon Beach by Bus
If you do not have a car or if you simply prefer to sit back and enjoy the view rather than drive, you can ride the bus, which is operated by Northwest Point. This is actually a very practical and the most recommended way to get from Portland to Cannon Beach.
The total travel time is 1 hour and 55 minutes, including transfers. The price of a ticket starts at $15 but may vary depending on the season or the day you make your purchase.
If you are coming from the airport, you will first need to take a 20-minute bus ride from PDX to get to the Portland Union Station. This ride will cost an additional $8 to $13 of bus fare and is operated by the Central Oregon Breeze.
The earlier you buy, the higher the probability that you will be able to get available seats and even choose the seat that you like.
You can also buy tickets right at the Portland Union Station. Just go to the ticket counter or find the ticket kiosk where you can quickly get a printed ticket upon paying.
Traveling from Portland to Cannon Beach by Air
Cannon Beach doesn’t actually have an airport so if you are coming from a distant location, you will have to fly into Portland International Airport. PDX is located approximately 80 miles from Cannon Beach. From there, you can take a private car and go straight to Cannon Beach using one of the many routes available.
Alternatively, you can take the bus to Union Station and transfer to another bus that will take you to Cannon Beach Family Market/Surfside Resort.
Different Routes to Take from Portland to Cannon Beach
There are a few different routes that you can choose from if you are heading out to Cannon Beach from Portland. A couple of these are the fast and standard routes followed by buses and most cars.
Others are roads less traveled that take up more time but are much more scenic and entertaining. Here are some brief descriptions of the various routes so you can pick the one that suits you best.
Route via Highway 26
The most popular route, likely because it is the fastest and shortest, goes through Highway 26, also popularly known as the Sunset Highway.
During rush hour, you might want to brace yourself for some very heavy traffic in the few miles as you leave Portland but it gets comfortable soon after.
The scenes along this route are not that remarkable but it is pretty relaxing. You will be surrounded mostly by trees on both sides of the highway, but there’s not much else besides the greenery.
Route via Astoria
This second route is also quite fast and will take you along Highway 30 all the way to Astoria, at which you will proceed south along US 101 until you reach Cannon Beach.
Like the first route, the views are generally made up of trees but you will be treated to some picturesque views of the Columbia River as you pass the west of Longview WA.
Route via Naselle WA
If you have a lot of time to spend on your vacation, you can take this leisurely route that takes you along WA SR 4 until you reach Naselle, WA. Here, you can take a short break or proceed all the way to Astoria, then follow US 101 all the way to Cannon Beach.
The beginning of this route is along Interstate 5 going to Longview, WA does not have a lot of scenery to boast of, but it won’t be long before you can enjoy majestic views of the coast.
Alternatively, you can begin this route by taking US 30 until you reach the Longview Bridge, where you will cross over and proceed with the rest of the route.
Alternative Routes through Backroads
In addition to the primary routes mentioned above, there are also several ways to get from Portland to Cannon Beach using the backroads, especially between Hillsboro and Astoria.
You will find these routes very interesting as it takes you through a variety of surroundings.
As a matter of fact, if you have plenty of time, you might want to take frequent road stops so that you can fully immerse yourself in these beautiful locations that are actually more of real destinations than just routes.
Wine Tasting Opportunities
If you are looking for a more adventurous trip, you can try the route that goes through the Willamette Valley, where you can stop over for some amazing wine-tasting experience.
There is also a pretty exciting route from Portland to Cannon Beach that includes going on a ferry as you cross the Columbia River.
You can also start on Highway 26 and exit at North Plains, where you can then take Highway 6 going to US 101. Along this route, you will enjoy a lot of striking views.
If you keep your eyes peeled, you will even get to see some pretty waterfalls along the way, like Fern Rock Creek Falls that is nestled somewhere between mile 29 and mile 30 along the south side of the highway.
Summary and Recommendations
As you can see, there are multiple routes that you can choose from when going from Portland to Cannon Beach.
If you want to get there as quickly as possible and take a much needed rest along the way, taking the bus would be the best option. Not only is it the fastest but it is also very affordable and will allow you to rest completely during your trip.
If you enjoy driving through the countryside and enjoying the views, you can go by car and choose one of the more scenic routes that will give you a glimpse of the coast or show you hidden gems like waterfalls and lush forests.
Either way, you can be sure that once you get to the beautiful Cannon Beach, the efforts that you have exerted during your trip will definitely pay off!
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Gary is an award winning full time professional photographer and videographer with too much wanderlust for his own good. Fuelled by strong coffee, you’ll often find him wandering well off hiking trails in search of interesting photographic subjects or scenery to video. Self taught and with the use of pioneering digital techniques, he quickly built up a strong client base and has worked with many prestigious organisations, including GQ, BBC, London Fashion Week, Grazia, Sky, Metro, Vogue Italia. He specialising in evocative images of people, places and cinematic videography and his goal is to make the viewer look twice and engage. As well as a penchant for good design, the ketogenic diet and Hungarian Vizslas, he also has a huge affection for Chicago, Bucharest, Scandinavia, Croatia and absolutely everywhere in Italy. Find him on Instagram @garynansome, Twitter @garynansome and his website https://garynunn.co.uk/