Haystack Rock

May 12, 2010 — Despite its prosaic name, Haystack Rock is an imposing 235-foot-tall sea stack on the Oregon Coast that is worthy of worship if one goes by the vague criteria of many religions. Few deities are as accessible as this monolith, though. At low tide, you can walk right up to it from Cannon Beach, which is about 80 miles northwest of Portland.

Although Haystack Rock is its own most prominent feature, other noticeable bits of this basalt edifice include its regular halo of nesting birds that include puffins, cormorants, and gulls, and a small cave that can be entered at the ebbiest of tides.

Of course, no matter how giant it is, you can only look at a rock for so long before feeling like Charlie Brown on Halloween. Fortunately, Haystack Rock provides plenty of reasons not to look at it.

At low tide, its tidal pools are creepy-crawly with various species of sea slugs, crabs, mussels, sand dollars, sea cucumbers, blue-green anemones, sea urchins, and other alien creatures temporarily marooned by the receding water. My absolute favorites were the livid purple and orange swollen starfish that clung to the rock in thick, suffocating clusters like some clown's nightmare. I didn’t know starfish came like that. I’ve lived on a river, a bay, and a gulf, as well as within commuting distance of an ocean almost my entire life...and the tidal pools at Haystack Rock made me feel like I had just discovered aquatic invertebrates for the first time.

I mean, Haystack Rock could only be cooler if it was formed by lava and had a cameo in The Goonies. Oh, wait...

For a better sense of scale, that array of light-colored dots 
at its base, like Soylent Green, is people.