Like much of Oregon's northern coast, Haystack Rock owes its existence to an enormous lava flow that traveled down the Columbia River Gorge to the ocean some 17 million years ago. Water and wind then sculpted the 235-foot basalt mound and separated it from the shoreline. Today, the world's third-tallest sea stack (offshore rock tower) hangs out in the surf near Cannon Beach, much to the delight of nesting shorebirds, tide pool creatures, and shutterbugs.
STONY NEIGHBORS Two smaller rock formations known as the Needles sit just south of Haystack Rock.
BIRDERS' BONANZA During the spring mating season, some 200 to 300 tufted puffins with distinctive orange beaks can be seen at the mound.
CRUSTACEAN COMMUNITY At least eight kinds of crabs, including the Dungeness and the Oregon cancer crab, live on and around the rock.
THE BIG THREE The only sea stacks taller than Haystack Rock are Balls Pyramid in Australia (1,804 feet) and the Old Man of Hoy in Scotland (450 feet).
KEEP OFF Climbing the rock has been prohibited since 1997. Violators now face a fine of up to $500.
Photography by Robert Landau/Corbi
This article was first published in September 2009. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.
Haystack Rock is located in Tolovana Beach State Recreation Site, adjacent to Cannon Beach, Ore. Admission to the park is free.
(503) 436-2623, cannonbeach.org .