For years, Short Beach was a locals-only rockhounding gem.
It has all the beautiful features you’d expect to see when you visit the Oregon coast: rock formations, sand, driftwood, small creeks and waterfalls.
The secret didn’t last past the rise of published guidebooks and the further rise of the internet.
However, despite the increase in visibility, Short Beach remains a high quality rockhounding site for collectors of all ages and experience.
The information provided in this article by YesDirt.com is for informational purposes and is subject to change. Laws are updated. Accessibility guidelines and restrictions change. Be sure to confirm the land status and collection rules before you travel to an unfamiliar location or collect any material.
What You Can Expect when Rockhounding Short Beach
Like many of the Oregon coast rockhounding locations, Short Beach is home to a gravel bar that the ocean can reach as the tides flow in and out.
As a result, the layers are constantly being impacted and shifted, which exposes treasures hiding underneath.
This constant change is why this spot is still so good after all this time, while other popular rockhounding spots get picked over when they become more well-known.
When you reach the beach, you’ll see that the beach isn’t exactly that small (though it is closed in on north and south with jutting rock formations.
The trail from the road actually deposits you right into a place where you can start hunting for material, an extensive gravel bar.
Assuming that you are not there during flooding or an extraordinarily high tide event (like king tides), there should be plenty of beach space available to walk and comb for rocks.
The material you might find varies. You will likely find agates and jasper of various colors, calcite, zeolites, quartz, fossils, sea glass, and petrified wood.
Best Places to Look When Rockhounding Short Beach
We think that the best places to look are where the water and the land meet.
Check along (and even in) the creeks flowing through the gravel areas into the ocean. Look in the rocky areas where the surf rolls in and out.
This is in contrast to the rocky areas high up on the beach that don’t see near as much action.
Don’t be afraid to get down and use a small hand rake of shovel to get down past the top layer of stones.
Equipment You’ll Need at Short Beach
Rockhounding the Oregon Coast is pretty easy.
Most of what you will find is on the surface, and any serious hacking at rock formations isn’t allowed (and is actually pretty dangerous).
We recommend that you prepare for a day on the beach (bringing weather appropriate clothing, hat, etc), and then also bring a receptacle for your stones and finds.
Some people like buckets.
I actually prefer to wear a day pack and bring small ziplock bags.
This way my rocks stay organized, and they don’t end up jammed together and scratch each other up.
You can through some old t-shorts in your big to use as a cushion for any of your more delicate finds (think shells, fossils).
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Curious about the equipment other rockhounders like to have in their kit? Our Gifts for Rockhounds Buying Guide has a great list of options.
Short Beach Rockhounding Limits
In Oregon, the rules about rockhounding will depend upon who manages the land (public or private).
In Oregon, you can remove up to one gallon of agates and non-living items such as shells, stones, and fossils, not to exceed one gallon bucket per day and not more than three gallons per year.
Note: it is not legal to collect native american items such as arrowheads of potsherds.
Here’s the link to the Oregon laws specific to collecting on Oregon’s beaches.
Best Time to Rockhound Short Beach
The best times of year are the times when the surf is higher and more violent (think stormier months versus calm and beautiful).
Thus you might be more likely to get wet/cold, but the fall and winter tend to be the best time to find unique and beautiful stones at the Oregon Coast.
If you can, time your trip to earlier in the day, arriving as the tide is going out.
This will give you the best chance of picking up the good stuff that becomes exposed as the water recedes before some other enterprising rock hunter arrives.
People might complain about the rain, but a decent downpour can actually help expose stones and also amplify their coloring to make it easier to spot them.
How To Get There
Short Beach is located a few miles from Tillamook, about 90 minutes from Portland, Oregon. Drive to Tillamook any way you like (from north, south, east, etc.
Once in Tillamook, look for OR 131 (which is also 3rd street). Turn onto 131/3rd to go west towards the ocean towards Netarts.
Follow road for between 8 and 9 miles, to Cape Meares Loop. Make the turn to get on Cape Meares Loop, and after about a mile, you should see a parking area on the right hand side of the road.
You’ll know its the right spot to park if you can see Short Creek on your GPS as well. There will be a trail leading down to the beach, with stairs.
Staying Near Short Beach
Having spent quite a bit of time in the Tillamook/Cape Meares area, we can’t recommend enough that you plan an overnight stay or a weekend out there.
Netarts is a pretty small hamlet where there are just enough rental houses so that you can find a place to stay, but not so many that the beach ends up super crowded.
Tillamook is less striking but is another option for an easy motel/hotel. If you don’t mind driving, Pacific City and Astoria also also pretty amazing places to visit.
We prefer to camp when we are in the area, but it can be really hard to get a good site without some advance planning and reservations (we’ve tried).
We’ve created an ultimate guide to gifts for rockhounds with helpful links directly to Amazon to make looking for and checking out potential gifts quick and review easy!
Still looking for other ideas for places to visit to hunt for rocks?
Check out Patrick’s Point State Park, Glass Butte, Hampton Butte, and the Wheeler High School Fossil Hunting Beds. We’ve also created a general Rockhounding Oregon page with some other suggestions for you to check out.