The Three Graces

Nestled near the shore in the channel leading from Garibaldi to the North Jetty and the Pacific Ocean is a picturesque rock formation known as the Three Graces. The rocks are a favorite of birds and photographers and, at their base, they feature tide pools and excellent beach combing.

Like the other massive rocks that dot the Oregon coastline, they are composed of sandstone and were likely formed between 20 and 30 million years ago. According to George R. Priest, a geologist with Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries coastal field office in Newport, at that time, the entire area, including what is now the Coast Range, was an under-sea marine environment and part of the continental shelf, just as the ocean floor off the coast is today.

Over time and under pressure, this sand consolidated into sandstone. Then, as the earth’s tectonic plates crashed into each other, they pushed up the coastal mountains and fractured and tilted up a ridge of sandstone along the coastline. Over time, the tides and surf wore away the softer portions of this sandstone, leaving behind the rocks we see today.

To get to the beach near the formation, drive north on U.S. Highway 101 from Garibaldi a little over a mile. Do not try to park near the rocks themselves. The highway hugs the cliffs and there are no parking areas or wide shoulders. It is best to drive past the formation and park near the intersection at Harborview Drive. Then walk back, crossing the railroad tracks to get to the beach.

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