Take a hike during whale-spotting week on Oregon Coast

Whale-watch week, Dec. 27-31, is prime time to spot migrating leviathans while stretching your legs on a beautiful shore.

One of the greatest privileges of being in the Pacific Northwest is the knowledge that whales, those largest and most magnificent of mammals, are often seen off the coast. And while winter and spring can bring their share of headaches, those seasons also are some of the best times to spot gray whales as they migrate past the shores.

“I’ve seen hundreds and hundreds of them,” said longtime state-park ranger David Newton, looking out at the sea from the Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay, on Oregon’s central coast. “But when someone comes from the Midwest or something and has never seen a gray whale, to see their reaction is what makes it worthwhile.”

Savvy whale watchers know how to maximize chances for seeing one: Find an outcropping above the water with unobstructed views. Conveniently, many of the best whale-watching spots are also great for hiking, which makes it easy to combine the two.

The week after Christmas is always an official whale-watch week in Oregon (Dec. 27-31, 2015). The state parks’ “Whale Watching Spoken Here” program trains volunteers to answer questions and help folks spot whales at 22 sites along the Oregon coast, as well as at Washington’s Cape Disappointment State Park, in Ilwaco, and in Crescent City, Calif.

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