I first fell for Cannon Beach in the fall of 2003. The sand is perfect for wheelchairs with wide tires all around. The sand close to rolling on cement but thin tires or wheels just won't do.
Anyway, in July of 2004, Marc and I made a short Oregon loop. Starting in Seattle, we hit Eugene, Cannon Beach, and then back to Seattle. However, this report is on the Cannon Beach / Seaside area.
I like Seaside for the motels - they seem a little better priced. I also prefer Best Westerns. The staff does an awesome job at all of the Best Westerns I've stayed at. If I need an hour more, they happily agree.
Cannon Beach's public parking is a shy ten miles from the door of the motel in Seaside. It is at the intersection of South Hemlock and West Gower. Sunset provides bus service between Seaside and Cannon Beach. The beach access point is one block due west of the public parking.
The access point is a wide cement ramp that could fit two cars on it side by side. I would stay towards the left side to hit the right sand. Cannon Beach has three types of sand; the fluffy stuff (as we say yuck) - the wet stuff that wheelchairs sink in, and the hard stuff.
The hard stuff is a rather wide strip between the fluffy and the wet sand. I don't even use my dual tires and my chair does awesome, all 500lbs of it (me included).
THE SLIGHT TRICK is to get from the access point to the hard sand and back without getting stuck. Fortunately, there is a stream that runs from the left side of the access into the ocean - if it gets that far. All you do is follow the edge of the stream until you're at the hard sand and you're up and running.
You can go the whole length of the beach, from the access point south. I have never tried going north, but, what's the point Haystack Rock is to the south.
Haystack Rock is 235 feet high and is the third largest coastal sea stack or monolith in the word. When the tide is way out, you can get up to the east base if you like that stuff. I like them myself - I kind of think of sea stacks as old watchmen of the Pacific. However, that's just me, so I'll continue.
You'll see several sea stacks at Cannon Beach. At the very south end of the beach you'll find a small stack quite far on to the beach. It is in "boarder line" sand. I know how to drive in sand so I had no problem getting to it. I could see how some chairs or drivers could get stuck. The day that I was at the beach it was real sunny but there was a 25 MPH wind from the north. I went on the south side of that southern sea stack and there was no wind - shirt off, 85 degrees, blue sky, waves splashing on a few stacks - I just sat there a long time doing nothing.
Cannon Beach is about 7 miles long. I myself went on about 4 miles of it with no problem. Well, almost no problem. At one point I stopped a few minutes to see if my wheels would sink. They had no problem. So then I got this stupid idea to swivel my small wheels around, just to see if they would drill in to the sand. Well, once around and, yep, they drilled into the sand. I thought, "huh-oh, not good."
I tried to slowly pull forward but my big wheels just spun and sank a bit. I then gunned it backward but sand shot all over. "Good one Kirk." I was, uh, stuck. So I just sat there.
One lady walked by with her walk-man but didn't stop. Then a family came by on foot peddled beach buggies. About the same time, a young man comes jogging from the condos on the cliff. He said he saw me and called "Beach Patrol." They all try helping me out but, 500lbs in sand, well, it didn't move. So, they waited with me for Beach Patrol to arrive which took about 20 minutes. It wasn't any emergency so I didn't care how long the wait was.
A truck pulls up and a 20 or so year old guy jumps out. He had a Life Guard jacket on, etc and asks how he could help. We all talk a bit and decide a tow would be the best way.
I have two big eye bolts mounted to the very back of my chair. He hooked his tow chain up and I feathered the joystick in reverse just so my brakes released as he slowly pulled his truck forward and pulled me out. My chair was obviously no problem for the truck so I thanked everyone and was on my way again.
After that incident, we went back to the Access Point, up the ramp to the beginning of Gower street. If you visit Cannon Beach, you must turn into the parking lot on the south side of Gower. The parking lot is to "The Wayfarer Restaurant." I recommend this to everyone.
The service is awesome, the food is excellent, and the view is astonishing. I personally recommend going there about 3 pm and having a bowl of clam chowder, followed by fish'n chips, topped off by their chocolate moose for $22 plus tip.
In closing, Cannon Beach is awesome for wheelchairs of all kinds. I even went in the surf with Marc using my manual chair. Yes, Cannon Beach is a "must stop" for everyone.