Visit Newport’s Ghost Forests
Autumn is the perfect time to see these ancient tree stumps
October is that time of the year when shadows grow longer and forests become darker, well, most forests do anyway. Not the ghost forests of Newport. You might think that a place named “ghost forest” would be a sinister place, where apparitions or restless spirits haunted the people who entered them, but these forests are actually bright and devoid of trees.
In fact, ghost forests are only the stumps of trees, and some are an astonishing 4,000 years old. The stumps weren’t decayed by oxygen as most stumps are, because they were buried under layers of sand and silt for so long that they were preserved mostly in their original shape. Some of the ghost forest stumps are covered up until big storms expose them, but there a few places that you can view them year-round.
The best display of a ghost forest stump visible all of the time is at Beverly Beach State Park, next to the path that leads to the beach. It was torn out of the sand and silt near Otter Rock by a large storm, and was washed up onto Beverly Beach. The Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation made the stump into a permanent exhibit shortly after it washed ashore in the 1990s. Its twin is still firmly planted in the sands below Otter Rock, and can be seen from the Otter Crest State Scenic Viewpoint, or examined more closely down on Beverly Beach.
The other ghost forests of Newport are usually only visible after large storms have eroded the sand and silt to expose the ancient stumps. Most of these are located on Moolack Beach, which is connected to Beverly Beach to the north. There are also some at Nye Beach, and a few others just south of Newport at Thiel Creek.
Search for the ghost forests the next time you visit Newport, especially after a big autumn storm has come and gone.
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