Whale Watching Center

Like a tourist heading slowly home after a terrific vacation, the whales are on their way back to Alaska.

During the winter migration in November and December, the world's largest mammals are difficult to see. They stay four to five miles off the Oregon Coast and make a beeline for warm Mexican waters. The trip back is leisurely and water spouts are often seen as close as a half-mile off shore.

While the heaviest concentration of northbound sightings is usually in March, nonbreeding males and females rush ahead and have been seen since mid-February.

Oregon State Parks operates a whale watching center in Depoe Bay, north of Newport. On an elevated platform just a few feet from the ocean breakers, visitors can locate and watch as whales dive, breech and blow.

During those rainy, 70-mph wind days, there's a concrete shelter with large windows for viewing protection.

Oregon State Parks offers a whale-watching brochure that describes the Depoe Bay facility and also lists the 28 best whale watching sites along the Coast from Crescent City to the Columbia River. Get it online at www.oregonstateparks.org/images/pdf/whale_watch_center.pdf.

For even more information, contact the Oregon Coast Visitors Association toll free, 888-OCVA-101.