Photo of the D River in Oregon

Weekly Gem #268, D River Runs Through It

Published 3/20/22

Location: This Hidden Gem is at the intersection of the D River and the Pacific Ocean, in Lincoln City, OR (see the Clue Me! Map).

The D river is a short river, but rarely the same length from one moment to the next. In fact, it doubles in length twice a day, and predictably recedes just as quickly. The river’s “headwaters” are located about 200 feet east of the river / beach photo, where it flows out of Devil’s Lake. Here you see the lower half of the river, flowing into the Pacific across Nelscott Beach. The beach has a very gradual slope, which gives lots of room for weather bitten beachcombers, and explains the doubling of the river’s length. At high tide, the D is about 400 feet long. At low tide, the ocean is another 400 feet ‘that-a-way,’ making the river about 800 feet long.

The D river isn’t necessarily a travel destination itself, being wedged between a parking lot on one side and a parking lot plus restaurant on the other. But it certainly is a great jumping off point to spend lots of time near the water.

The main draw to visitors is the beach and the ocean. Along the beach you can find neat shells and rocks, you can visit tide pools (at low tide) and see any number of critters, and you can even (in season and with a permit) gather mussels, clams, and/or crabs for your own fresh seafood dinner.

And believe it or not, in the winter this becomes a surfer’s paradise assuming they’re OK approaching hypothermia in their search for the big waves. About half a mile or so offshore is reef which day in and day out creates surprisingly large waves. In the winter when there’s a little extra weather, these waves are commonly 20 to 50 feet high. You might check out, or the Nelscott Reef Big Wave Classic page, to see some photos that don’t seem to belong in Oregon.

There’s another side to the D river, that being Devil’s Lake. If you're too cold next to the ocean, you can swing over to Devil’s Lake, which is protected from the wind. There are lots of freshwater fish if you like fishing, and if you like watching others fish, there are lots of bald eagles and ospreys. During the winter, it’s the home of very large numbers of ducks and geese.

All in all, not a bad place to hang out, especially if you’ve got your windbreaker and a nice camera.

Interestingly, some locals calculated the length of the D River at less than 150 feet in order to lay claim to being the shortest river in the world. We only mention this because the typical length we provided above is much longer than this calculated minimum length, which you might come across if you start googling about this area. Although the D may become quite short during a tsunami, or a really radical high tide in conjunction with a major storm, you can visit (or look at google maps) to see the average length of the D.


Here's the hidden gem entry from our Clue Me! map.


C the D?


The D River

Why It's Interesting

From one spot you can see the D River headwaters and it's end, where it flows into the Pacific.

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