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Three Things That May Surprise You About Haystack Rock

Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach may be one of the most recognizable and photographed icons of Oregon, however it still has a few secrets that not everyone has heard. From dynamic wildlife to actual dynamite, this beautiful landmark has a unique story all its own.

It’s not a ‘local’

Often the first thing people picture when they think of Cannon Beach and the Oregon Coast, Haystack Rock is actually a bit of an outsider. Millions of years ago, violent volcanic eruptions in eastern Oregon and Washington, as well as western Idaho, sent molten lava spewing toward the coast. It is thought that it reached the ocean within a few days, sinking into the soft sediments, cooling and hardening as it went. Over time, tectonic plate movement pushed the ‘new’ black basalt upward and erosion washed away the softer sediments, leaving dramatic rock formations like Haystack Rock scattered along the Oregon Coast.

It is federally protected from top to bottom

Home to a wide variety of creatures, Haystack Rock has been part of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge for 50 years now, its status intended to keep the birds that call it home safe from human interference. Most notably a nesting spot to the Pacific Northwest’s most visible colony of Tufted Puffins, Haystack also hosts a variety of other birds including gulls, Pigeon Guillemots, Common Murres and Black Oystercatchers. Additionally, the tidepools surrounding the rock are designated an Oregon Marine Garden, meaning that state protections extend to even the tiniest creatures living in the shadow of this amazing monolith.

It has been blasted by dynamite

The late 1960’s found aspiring rock climbers continually stranding themselves upon Haystack Rock, making rescues by emergency personnel a semi-regular occurrence. Additionally, there was much concern about protecting Haystack’s wildlife inhabitants from human encroachment. As a solution, Haystack Rock was blasted in such a way to make it less accessible to climbers or climbing enthusiasts. In an ironic twist, the two-man dynamite crew who was hired for the job got stranded on the rock by high tide and had to wait for low tide to wade back to shore, leaving Cannon Beach’s then city marshal to babysit the dynamite in their unlocked vehicle on the beach.