11 Lighthouses on the Oregon Coast

Oregon's wild, rugged coast is home to a number of scenic and historic lighthouses. These much-photographed icons are among the many attractions a visitor can enjoy while driving along Highway 101, the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway.

Of the nine original lighthouses on the Oregon Coast , seven are open to the public and most are still used as aids to navigation. You can walk out to visit the lighthouses, take a tour, or even climb the spiral staircase to see a Fresnel lens up close. During whale migration season, if you are visiting lighthouses, you may be in a prime place to catch a glimpse of the huge mammals along the coast.

In addition, there are two privately-built lighthouses both of which are certified by the U.S. Coast Guard as official aids to navigation. Neither is open to the public.

Tillmook Rock Lighthouse

Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain 

On a large stand of basalt situated over a mile out to sea, the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse can be viewed from the shores of Cannon and Seaside Beaches and is not open to the public.

The lighthouse survived the severe storms and high waves for years, but in October of 1934, a record-breaking storm hit the area and battered the coast for four days. The lighthouse's lantern room and Fresnel lens were smashed by boulders dredged up by the storm, the light was never replaced, and in 1957 the lighthouse was officially closed.

Now, privately owned, the lighthouse is a cemetery, or "columbarium at sea," and is home of the cremated remains of 30 persons who have chosen Tillamook Rock as their final resting place.

Cape Meares Lighthouse

 Jeff Hunter/Getty Images

The Cape Meares Lighthouse is located on a coastal promontory near the town of Tillamook at the Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint on the Three Capes Scenic Loop . Cape Meares Lighthouse is open daily during the months of May through September from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tours can be scheduled a minimum of three weeks in advance by calling Friends of Cape Meares Lighthouse (503) 842-2244. The lighthouse can be reached via a wheelchair-accessible paved trail. While you can climb up to see the first-order lens (the largest of Fresnel lenses) in the lantern room, it is no longer used—an even brighter light on a nearby tower now provides the aid to navigation from Cape Meares.

The Cape Meares gift shop, open Thursday through Sunday, offers items featuring lighthouses and marine life.

Cape Meares Lighthouse is nestled among the spruce, where interpretive trails lead visitors through the woods to see the "Octopus Tree," and along the scenic cliffs. Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint and National Wildlife Refuge are open 365 days a year, 7 a.m. to dusk. 

Yaquina Head Lighthouse

TripSavvy / Jamie Ditaranto

The town of Newport, Oregon is home to a number of fabulous attractions (a great aquarium and the iconic bridge), including the Yaquina Head Lighthouse , Oregon's tallest lighthouse. This lighthouse is part of the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area operated by the Bureau of Land Management.

Visit the Yaquina Head Interpretive Center where they offer a film about the Yaquina Lighthouses and the intertidal life on the Oregon Coast. You will also learn how the Fresnel lighthouse lenses work.

The lighthouse is open for tours from 12 to 4 p.m. during the warmer months of the year. This is an active, working lighthouse with the original lens in place, but the light is now automated. 

Yaquina Bay Lighthouse

The Yaquina Bay Lighthouse is located in Oregon's Yaquina Bay State Recreation Site in Newport. It’s the only Oregon lighthouse built of wood and looks like a two-story house with a light tower on the roof. The Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, originally lit in 1871 and decommissioned soon after, was restored to service in 1996 and is currently in operation.

The hours are from October to Memorial Day 12 to 4 p.m. and in the summer, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Private tours are available when scheduled in advance by calling (541) 574-3129. In addition to visiting the lighthouse, you can enjoy beach access, walking trails, and interpretive tours.

Heceta Head Lighthouse

TripSavvvy / Jamie Ditaranto

Heceta Head Lighthouse is located north of Florence at the Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint. This 56-foot high lighthouse has a rotating beam that is still the most powerful on the Oregon Coast shining 22 miles out to sea.

Daytime tours for both the assistant keeper's quarters and the lighthouse take place Memorial Day through Labor Day from Thursday through Sunday. Evening tours are available to the public on selected dates (word has it that a ghost frequents the homes there). Call for tour dates and hours (541-547-3696).

An interpretive center is located in the lightkeeper's house and a gift shop is located in the generator room. The assistant keepers’ house (Heceta House) is now the Heceta Lightstation Bed and Breakfast and serves a seven-course gourmet breakfast each morning of your stay. 

A series of trails, part of the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area in Siuslaw National Forest, provides spectacular views of the rugged seacoast and its wild inhabitants and the lighthouse. Famous for being the most photographed lighthouse in the United States, the Heceta Head Lighthouse is one of Oregon's most visited.

Cleft of the Rock Lighthouse

 Didi_Lavchieva/Getty Images

Located near Cape Perpetua , this privately-owned lighthouse was built in 1976 by lighthouse historian, Jim Gibbs. The lighthouse sits on a bluff on private property and is not open to the public.

The lighthouse and home, based on the architectural plans for a Canadian lighthouse, Vancouver Island’s Fiddle Reef Light , is an official private aid to navigation with a light that can be seen more than 16 miles out to sea.

You can view the home from Milepost 166 on Highway 101, 1-1/2 miles south of Yachats.

Umpqua River Lighthouse

Beyond Cape Arago lies the photogenic Umpqua River Lighthouse , in Oregon's Umpqua Lighthouse State Park . The beacon's first-order lens has 6 red lenses among the 25 lenses and is particularly beautiful when viewed at night—the alternating white and red beams are especially interesting when seen through the fog.

You can visit the Coastal Visitor Center & Museum located in the old Coast Guard Administration Building. The lighthouse and adjacent museum are operated and maintained by the Douglas County Parks Department, with daily tours offered May through September.

Located among Oregon's coastal sand dunes, you'll find unique recreational opportunities to enjoy in addition to the Umpqua River Lighthouse. Yurt and cabin camping are available in the state park's full-service campground and RV park. Fishing, picnicking, and walking trails are among the other daytime activities to enjoy along the shores of Lake Marie and the river.

Coquille River Lighthouse

The Coquille River Lighthouse is located in Bullard's Beach State Park , just north of the town of Bandon. The Coquille River Lighthouse, in operation from 1896 to 1939, is the smallest lighthouse on the Oregon coast. The lighthouse, now in need of some preservation work, sits right at the water's edge. Volunteer-guided tours of the lantern room are available during May through October from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

In addition to enjoying the lighthouse and the gift shop, you'll find a range of outdoor and beach recreation opportunities near the Coquille River Lighthouse. The state park provides a full-service campground, complete with RV hookups, a horse camp, yurts, cabins, tepees, and covered wagons. Fishing and crabbing on the Coquille River are popular activities. The paved pathway to the beach is great for walkers and bikers and wildlife lovers will enjoy the nearby Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge.

Cape Blanco Lighthouse

Cape Blanco Lighthouse is situated just a few miles from Port Orford. The cliff-top structure is the oldest standing lighthouse in the state and is located at the westernmost point in Oregon. First operated in 1870, the light from this beacon has prevented many seafarers from foundering on Cape Blanco's rocky coastline and is the oldest continuously operating light on the Oregon coast.

Visitors can take tours of the lighthouse and keeper's quarters, located within Cape Blanco State Park , April through October, on Wednesday through Monday, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The park offers a full-service campground that includes yurts, cabins, and RV hookups. Walking trails, fishing, bird watching, and picnicking are among the recreation opportunities available in the state park.

Cape Arago Lighthouse

Just south of the entrance to Coos Bay, the first Cape Arago Lighthouse was built in 1866 and then a second was built in 1908. The one you see today, built in 1934, is the third lighthouse to occupy the same location. Today the U.S. Coast Guard maintains the 44-foot lighthouse which is not open to the public—the walkway to the area is now closed due to poor condition.

A modern beacon has replaced the fourth-order Fresnel lens and was automated in 1996. You can view the lighthouse from a turnout about a half mile south of Sunset Bay State Park.

Pelican Bay Lighthouse

 Thomas H. Mitchell / 500px/Getty Images

Another, privately-built light, Pelican Bay Lighthouse is situated on a bluff 141 feet above the Chetco River. Oregon’s newest light, owned by a family with a lighthouse keeper in their family history, Pelican Bay Lighthouse with a fixed Fresnel lens, is designated a private aid to navigation by the Coast Guard. The home and light are not open to the public.

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Oregon is for Adventure

11 Oregon Lighthouses & The Adventures Nearby

By: Author Garrett Galvan

Posted on Published: November 16, 2020  - Last updated: October 23, 2023

Categories Best of Oregon , Oregon Coast

11 Oregon Lighthouses & The Adventures Nearby

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I think we can all agree the coast is stunning but something that sticks out, aside from the sea stacks, are Oregon’s lighthouses.

These historic and beautiful lighthouses are sprinkled along the coast and are surrounded by adventures! After all, seeing a lighthouse is pretty cool but there’s got to be more to it right?

Don’t worry! We got you. Here are the 11 Oregon Lighthouses and all the best adventures you can do around each of them!

Oregon’s Lighthouses

Here’s a map to help you plan your trip. We’ve marked the lighthouses as well as the nearby adventures. Everything below is ordered from north to south.

oregon coast lighthouse tour

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1. Tillamook Rock Lighthouse

Located more than a mile off the North Coast of Oregon is ‘Terrible Tilly’, or Tillamook Rock Lighthouse. It stands on a sea stack of basalt and is well-known throughout Oregon.

It is closed to the public, and while you can’t visit it, it’s still a formidable sight off of the coast of Tillamook Head. The rock was selected to be the light’s location in 1878, yet building it proved to be a challenge thanks to the constant battering of the waves and storms.

Sunset over Pacific Ocean with Tillamook Rock Lighthouse.

According to historical records, a huge storm swept away all of the worker’s provisions and they were stranded for two weeks on the rock. The construction took over 500 days, and it was lit for the first time in 1881.

View through trees to Tillamook Rock Lighthouse surrounded by ocean, one of the most scenic Oregon Lighthouses

Lightkeepers were only assigned to work for 42 days at a time simply because the conditions were so hard. After the lantern room and Fresnel lens being wrecked by a storm in 1934, it was never replaced.

RELATED: 11 Most Scenic Oregon Coast Towns (And What to do There!)

Adventures Near Tillamook Rock Lighthouse in Oregon

Ecola State Park – The state park winds its way around Tillamook Head and is bursting with the potential for adventure. It stretches along 9 miles of coastline, with hiking being its main draw.

View of islands, cliff and beaches of Ecola State Park, near one of the best Oregon Lighthouses

The Clatsop Loop Trail is a notable trail that begins at the Indian Beach parking area which takes you past breathtaking views of the coastline. For some of the best views of the lighthouse, take the short spur from OCT Hikers’ Camp.

View of Indian Beach with people on the sand and in the water with rocky islands. Near Tillamook Rock Lighthouse.

Surfing – A short drive or walk from Tillamook Head you’ll find Indian Beach, a hotspot for surfers who are eager to hit the waves. Both kayakers and surfers hit this spot, with summer being the best time of year for surfing . Bring your board and hit the waves and see what this part of the Oregon coast has to offer.

2. Cape Meares Lighthouse

Tucked away amidst the scenic landscape of Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint is the beautiful Cape Meares Lighthouse. One of the most interesting features of this Oregon lighthouse is that it is the shortest lighthouse on the Oregon Coast, standing at only 38 feet tall.

Cape Meares view on your Oregon Coast itinerary

It was named for Captain John Meares, the first to sail into Tillamook Bay, and was built in 1890. Don’t let its short stature fool you – it stands on a steep cliff, and when working, its bright light could be seen for 21 miles out to sea.

View of track and Cape Meares Lighthouse, a must visit Oregon Lighthouse

The tower is the only one like it on the coast, made out of sheet iron which is lined with bricks. The lighthouse was deactivated in 1963 and replaced by a newer tower, before being listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993.

When visiting, although the staircase is pretty short, it is one of the only lighthouses where you can walk around the lens, enjoying the views that the keepers did over a century ago.

Ocean and beach view from Oregons Cape Meares Lighthouse.

Tours: June to August open 11am to 6pm – May and September 11am to 4pm.

Adventures Near Cape Meares Lighthouse in Oregon

Wildlife Watching – Keep your eyes peeled when on the cliffs for a chance of spotting migrating gray whales. Birds are also abundant throughout the park, so keep your eyes peeled for scoters, western grebes, and common loons. One of the best places to see wildlife is from the wildlife viewing deck.

Cape Meares Lighthouse Loop – (0.5 miles, easy, loop) – The lighthouse loop is the only way to reach the lighthouse along a very well maintained trail, with a few areas to stop and look at the crashing waves below. Add on a few extra minutes to your stroll and see the Octopus Tree, it’s a unique Sitka Spruce with lots of “arms.”

Person sitting on bench with trees looking out at ocean view near Cape Meares Oregon Lighthouse

Cape Meares Beach Trail – (1.4 miles, moderate, out and back) – This beautiful hike will take you to the beach, with a stunning view of the ocean on the way down. It is a steady decline on the way to the beach and then once you reach the end, you have the option of climbing down to the beach via a rope which isn’t for the faint of heart.

RELATED: Exploring Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint

3. Yaquina Head Lighthouse

As the tallest lighthouse in Oregon at 93 feet, Yaquina Head is pretty impressive. It is perched on headlands, surrounded by the Pacific Ocean on three sides, with incredible trails all around it.

Every day the lighthouse braves the wind that wildly whips around this scenic outcrop of land, and it has been standing and helping passing ships since 1873.

View of Yaquina Head Lighthouse on peninsula with ocean in the background.

When visiting this lighthouse, the interpretive rangers will play the role of the lighthouse keeper, giving an interactive history of the lighthouse and taking you up to the top of the tower where you can stick your head in the lens room.

Nina, co-author of this blog, hiking on Yaquina Lighthouse Trail in Oregon on a summer day.

Tours : are offered by reservation only, and there are limited tickets per day.

RELATED: A Legendary Oregon Coast Road Trip – 35 Stops & 3 Itineraries

Adventures Near Yaquina Head Lighthouse in Oregon

If you love seabirds, then a stop at the lighthouse is unmissable. There are plenty of birds that call the area their home, but in the summer months, most people come to see the common murres who gather in numbers reaching more than 60,000!

Seabirds on coastal rocks at Yaquina Head Lighthouse, one of the best Oregon Lighthouses

Salal Hill Trail – (0.7 miles, easy, out and back) – This trail is an easy, short hike up Salal Hill. Once you reach the summit, you’ll be greeted with beautiful views of the beach on each side of you, as well as a great view of the lighthouse.

Yaquina Head Lighthouse and Cobble Beach Loop – (0.4 miles, easy, loop) – This is the best trail to take if you want to get up close to the lighthouse from the parking lot. It will also take you to a lovely beach with some tide pools.

Quarry Cove showing it's turquoise blue water near Yaquina Head Lighthouse in Oregon.

Lighthouse Trail to Quarry Cove – (0.7 mile, easy) – Want to find yourself in a stunning blue water cove? Head southeast from the lighthouse on the lighthouse trail to find yourself at this unique beach that most people miss. Alternatively, you can drive down as this cove has its own parking lot and is on the way out.

4. Yaquina Bay Lighthouse

Built in 1871, Yaquina Bay Light was created not long after the founding of the city of Newport . This lighthouse was only active for three years as the larger Yaquina Head Lighthouse was then established. It was then used by the United States Army Corps of Engineers as their living quarters.

Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, one of the most beautiful Oregon Lighthouses

It was listed on the National Register for Historic Places in 1970 and, to this day, is the only existing Oregon lighthouse in which the living quarters are housed in the same building as the light. You can take a self-guided tour of this lighthouse, a stone’s throw away from the historic bayfront.

Tours: Between 12-4 pm, during the summer months, you can do a self-guided donation-based tour. (Wednesday through Sunday on the off months)

RELATED: 13 Adventurous Things To Do in Newport, Oregon

Adventures Near Yaquina Bay Lighthouse in Oregon

South Beach State Park – The stunning South Beach State Park offers plenty of recreational activities. The paved jetty offers a great place for a jog or a cycle, plus there is an equestrian trail for those that prefer to be on horseback. Kayak tours are offered on Beaver Creek, while other adventures include fishing, boating, surfing, and beachcombing.

Surfer standing on beach in fog at South Beach State Park in Oregon

South Beach State Park Trail – (4.3 miles, easy, out and back) – This trail is great for those up for a walk but is not used to hiking, as the terrain is mostly paved. It gives you a great overview of the park with stunning views most of the way.

Yaquina Bay State Park and Lighthouse – (0.4 miles, easy, loop) – You get a lot of view for such a short hike, taking you right up to the lighthouse. There are few spots where you can stop for a picnic or access the beach down a steep set of stairs.

5. Cleft of the Rock Lighthouse

The Cleft of the Rock Lighthouse is one of two Oregon lighthouses privately owned, which unfortunately means it is not open to the public.

Cleft of the Rock Lighthouse viewpoint.

The lighthouse was built by Jim Gibbs, the former light owner, in 1976 and has been modeled after the Fiddle Reef Lighthouse, located on the southern shore of Vancouver Island. The lighthouse sits on the north base of Cape Perpetua and was named after a hymn.

Adventures Near Cleft of the Rock Lighthouse in Oregon

Thor’s Well – Rugged, dangerous, and incredible, Thor’s Well is a circular hole in the cliff formed after a sea cave collapsed. The natural attraction is most impressive at high tide when the waves rush in under the hole and fills it up from the bottom, causing spray to burst up through the hole.

The waves receding is almost as impressive, as it seems as though the water is draining away down a bottomless pit.

Garret, co-author of this blog, by Thor's Well in Oregon, a must visit on an Oregon Lighthouses Road Trip.

Spouting Horn – Similar to Thor’s Well but maybe not as well known is the Spouting Horn, a hole in the cove where seawater gets funneled during high tide.

Cape Perpetua – The cape is a must-stop on the Oregon coast, known for its unique rainforest-like landscape that collides with the ocean. There are plenty of stunning trails in the area that are just waiting to be explored.

Saint Perpetua Trail – (1.7 miles, moderate, out and back) – This stunning hike will take you through dense spruce woods with carpets of beautiful wildflowers to a viewpoint where you will be treated to 150 miles of panoramic scenic Oregon coast.

High angle view of the beach from Cape Perpetua Lookout.

RELATED: 17 Breathtaking Oregon Coast Hikes

Cook’s Ridge and Gwynn Creek Loop Trail – (6.4 miles, moderate, loop) – This trail lets you fully explore what Cape Perpetua has to offer. You’ll be able to take in the inland rainforest as well as the coastal area, with plenty of interpretive signs along the way to tell you a little more about what you are passing.

Cape Cove Trail – (1 mile, easy, out and back) – The hike is nice and easy while also letting you take in views of the ocean and enjoy the fun tidal pools. The hike directly connects to the Captain Cook Trail and the Restless Waters Trail if you are looking to extend your hike.

6. Heceta Head Lighthouse

Perched on top of Heceta Head is the iconic Heceta Head Lighthouse, one of the most photogenic Oregon lighthouses on the coast. The tower itself is 56-feet in height and can be seen for 21 miles out to sea.

Aerial shot of Heceta Head Lighthouse and near by beach in Oregon.

As well as being the most photographed, it also has the strongest light on the Oregon coast. The light was first lit in 1894 and is now maintained by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, and the lighthouse keepers’ house now operates as a cute little B&B.

The sight of this land bluff jutting dramatically from the land topped with the lighthouse can best be admired from U.S. 101, as from here you can take in the whole scene, as well as the sound of the sea lions below you. 

Heceta Head Lighthouse is a must see on your Oregon sand dunes adventure.

Tours: 11 am to 3 pm in the summer, and 11 am to 2 pm in the winter. On the tour, you will only be able to access the bottom half of the lighthouse.

Adventures Near Heceta Head Lighthouse in Oregon

Heceta Head Lighthouse to Hobbit Beach – (3.6 miles, moderate, out and back) – This is a beautiful hike with just the right amount of difficulty. Starting with an incline, you’ll head up a hill to be greeted with some stunning views. Give yourself a little longer than you think you will need for this one as chances are you will be stopping to take pictures every 10 minutes.

Aerial view of Hobbit Beach, near Heceta Head Oregon Lighthouse

You’ll end up at the beach where you can sit, relax, and drink in the sounds of the waves (and maybe even run into a Hobbit! You’ll have to check it out to see what we mean)

7. Umpqua River Lighthouse

The Umpqua River Lighthouse was the first lighthouse on the Oregon coast. To this day, you are still able to climb to the top of it while also learning more about the area’s history.

On the tour, you can climb the seemingly endless spiral staircase all the way to the top of the 65ft lighthouse. At every landing, there is a story about different stages in the lighthouse’s past.

Umpqua River Lighthouse, one of the best Oregon Lighthouses to visit

It is still operational and has only recently switched over from bulbs to LEDs to keep it lower maintenance. Once you reach the top, you are even able to take a look inside the working light.

The lighthouse a vibrant history, Before it was placed on the bluff on the entrance to Winchester Bay, it was commissioned along the beach of the Umpqua River in 1857. It was then moved less than 10 years later.

oregon coast lighthouse tour

Tours: Available May to October by appointment only.

Adventures Near Umpqua River Lighthouse in Oregon

Oregon has miles of dunes along the coastline, many of which can be found near the Umpqua River Lighthouse. In fact, you can get some great views of the dunes from the top of this Oregon lighthouse.

Hikers will find plenty of areas to explore the dunes, and many trails have a view of the ocean. OHV enthusiasts will have a great time in the two large day-use areas where you can get your adrenaline rush heading out into the sand.

Lake Marie – Lake Marie provides the ultimate combo of adventure and leisure, making it great for an all-day outing. The lake is open for swimming and is the ideal place to cool down on hot summer days.

Lake Marie surrounded by trees

You can also go fishing, canoeing, and kayaking on the waters – the perfect way to get a different view of the coast. There’s also a mile trail that circles the lake.

8. Cape Arago Lighthouse

Just west of Coos Bay is one of the most scenic Oregon lighthouses, Cape Arago . The most distinctive part of the lighthouse is its foghorn. It was first illuminated back in 1934 and stands 44 feet above sea level.

Cape Arago Lighthouse and beach on a sunny Oregon afternoon.

Unfortunately, you can’t get anywhere near the lighthouse as it is precariously located on Chief’s Island off Gregory Point. Still, there are some fantastic viewpoints of the light from the shore. One of the best views can be found at Shore Acres State Park , Yoakam Point.

Cape Arago Lighthouse on the rocky cliffs of the Oregon Coast.

Adventures Near Cape Arago Lighthouse in Oregon

Sunset Bay State Park – Sunset Bay is a beautiful part of the Oregon coast and is connected to Shore Acres and Cape Arago State Park via a series of trails. The park features some stunning sandy beaches surrounded by towering cliffs.

Curving beach with forest in background at Sunset Bay State Park in Oregon.

Fishing, swimming, boating, and beachcombing are also popular activities, and there is a camping ground at the park too.

RELATED: 25 Cool Oregon Coast Campgrounds to Stay at

Shore Acres State Park – Shore Acres can be found towering on the high sandstone cliffs above the rugged ocean. The state park is the perfect combination of natural and human-made features.

It contains the grand estate of timber baron Louis Simpson, with beautifully manicured gardens with plants from all over the world. Trails lead down to secluded Simpson Beach, or you could choose loftier views from the tails along the cliff edge.

View over rock islands in the ocean at Shore Acres State Park near Cape Arago Lighthouse.

Trails – There are tons of trails, most of them quite short, all around the three state parks in the area. You could spend your whole day exploring this pocket!

Wildlife Spotting – Wildlife is teeming around the shores. You’ll see some dark rocks just off the coast, and if you listen closely, you’ll probably hear the chattering of seals gleefully sunbathing on their “five-star resort’ rocks!

RELATED: 19 Must-Visit Oregon Coast State Parks

9. Coquille River Lighthouse

First lit in 1895, Coquille River Lighthouse was built in Bullards Beach State Park to help mariners cross the dangerous bar located at the entrance to the Coquille River.

View of Coquille River Lighthouse, a great Oregon Lighthouse.

Mariners knew how to identify the light thanks to its signature 28 seconds of light followed by 2 seconds off. It was also equipped with a foghorn that it could use when needed.

It is a great place to explore, where plenty of wildlife can be found, with great views of the river and the surrounding beach.

View of Coquille River Lighthouse during a beautiful Oregon sunset.

Tours: available from mid-May to mid-October. 11 am to 5 pm.

Adventures Near Coquille River Lighthouse in Oregon

Bullards Beach – Bullards Beach State Park lies at the Coquille River’s mouth, offering plenty of recreational activities. You can talk a walk along the picturesque beach, ride horses along the shore, and enjoy fishing in the river.

There is a mostly paved path along the beach that weaves through the grassy fields, lowland forest, and sandy dunes, showcasing the varied terrain that the park has to offer.

View of people walking on Bullards Beach near one of the best Oregon Lighthouses

Camping – There is a campsite offering 103 full-hookup sites and 82 electrical sites within the park with plenty of facilities for a comfortable camping experience.

OHV Trails – There are 17 miles of single-track trails and roads suitable for off-road motorcycles and ATV riders so that you can satisfy your adrenaline needs. Trails are marked from 1 to 22, so there is plenty to explore and enjoy.

RELATED: Visiting Bullards Beach State Park Near Bandon, Oregon

10. Cape Blanco Lighthouse

Cape Blanco, sitting atop a wind-swept bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, is a pretty special Oregon lighthouse for several reasons. For a start, it is the oldest continually operating light in Oregon, it has the highest focal plane above the sea in Oregon at 256 feet, and it had Oregon’s first woman keeper.

Van parked in foreground of Cape Blanco Lighthouse, a must visit Oregon Lighthouse.

It is also the most westerly lighthouse in Oregon. The light began its operation in 1870, beginning to warn passing ships away from the reefs of Cape Blanco.

Tours: Wednesday to Monday 10 am to 3.30 pm – April to October.

Up close view of Cape Blanco Lighthouse, one of Oregon's most beautiful Lighthouses.

Adventures Near Cape Blanco Lighthouse in Oregon

Whale Watching – The bluff is an incredible place to watch the incredible California gray whales and a range of other marine mammals.

Camping – Cape Blanco State Park is home to a great campground. With 52 electrical sites with water, it is the perfect place to stay to have immediate access to the trails from the minute you wake up. There are flush toilets and hot showers, firewood, and a reservable group camp.

Trails – There are a few short trails that lead you down the beaches below.

11. Pelican Bay Lighthouse

Pelican Bay is the newest lighthouse on the Oregon coast, shining its light up to 12 miles out to sea. Standing 141 feet above sea level, it was first lit in 1999.

Pelican Bay Lighthouse - one of the newest Oregon Lighthouses.

Although it is not open to the public as it is privately owned, it is still pretty impressive to see, with some of the best views from Brookings Harbor .

Adventures Near Pelican Bay Lighthouse

Sporthaven Beach Walk – (1.9 miles, easy, out and back) – Sporthaven Beach offers a great little walk along the coast. If you’re lucky, it is one of the best places in the area to see gray whales migrating through, which can be a magical sight.

This can be a pretty popular beach during the weekend, and it is not hard to see why. There is a large sandy stretch, and the waves make it popular for surfing.

Woman looking out to see near Harris Beach in Oregon near Pelican Bay Lighthouse.

Harris Beach State Park – One of the most stunning state parks in Oregon is very close to this lighthouse. There are trails weaving through huge boulders set along the coast and a perfectly placed campsite for you to post up for the night.

Camping – Beachfront RV Park is one of the best places to camp in the area, with many sites offering beautiful river views, an incredible scene to wake up to in the morning. There are plenty of amenities for a comfortable camping experience.

ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS ON THE OREGON COAST

More Oregon Lighthouses

oregon coast lighthouse tour

Visiting Bullards Beach State Park Near Bandon, Oregon

oregon coast lighthouse tour

Exploring Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint

We hope these tips will help you to plan your successful Oregon coast road trip. Here are more posts on  Oregon’s coast  and epic  adventures around Oregon  to check out.

oregon coast lighthouse tour

Oregon native and explorer at heart. Loves tackling expeditions around the world and drinking a good beer at the end of the day. PNW obsessed, VW nerd, and surf or snow riding fanatic.

Home > Road Trip Itineraries > Pacific North West > Discover the Best Oregon Coast Lighthouses: Itinerary along the Pacific Coast

Oregon Coast Lighthouses

Discover the Best Oregon Coast Lighthouses: Itinerary along the Pacific Coast

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The Oregon Coast is certainly one of the most suggestive in all the United States, even if it is not particularly beaten by tourist routes. To add charm to the coasts that overlook the Pacific Ocean there are the inevitable lighthouses that will allow you to take unforgettable photos.

A bit like the lighthouses of New England, here too, it is worth taking some time out from your itinerary along the American west coast to visit these picturesque places in a context where nature is still almost uncontaminated.

Oregon Coast Lighthouses Map

Cape meares lighthouse, yaquina head lighthouse, heceta head lighthouse, umpqua river lighthouse, cape blanco lighthouse, the other lighthouses.

Oregon Lighthouses Tour

First lit in 1890, over the years it was managed by families until the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department took over the now inactive lighthouse area. It’s the shortest lighthouse in all of Oregon (only 12 feet high), and that’s perhaps what helps make it particularly fascinating.

Oregon lighthouses tour

  • Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m
  • Friday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (extended weekend hours apply during June, July and August only)

In the event of bad weather, the lighthouse will be closed, however, please check the official website in advance to avoid unpleasant surprises.

While you’re here, don’t miss a visit to the famous Octopus Tree , technically a huge, peculiar-shaped Sitka spruce tree that resembles a giant upside-down octopus. Also, don’t miss the opportunity to see some great views of the coastline and the Three Arch Rocks from the vantage points near the parking lot.

oregon coast lighthouses map

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lighthouses oregon

From one of the shortest lighthouses, we move on to the lighthouse which, at nearly 100 feet tall, is known to be the tallest along the entire Oregon coast. After being built in Paris, and transported to Oregon, it began operations in 1873 and continues to this day with its maritime signaling work. It is located north of Newport within the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area which, as you might guess from the name, offers unique views to those who come here.

  • Winter season (November through June): only 16 people per tour. In order to reserve your place, you will have to go to the interpretive center from 10 a.m. (the opening time) where the number of tours available each day is displayed, according to staff numbers.
  • Summer season (July to September): tours depart daily and you can book more conveniently three months in advance through this website .

lighthouses in oregon

In the event of bad weather, tours will not be possible. Tours are approximately 45 minutes long, and to enter the park, you will need to pay a ticket that costs $7 per vehicle. If you have an America The Beautiful parks pass , you can enter for free even if the area is not managed by the National Park Service.

However, please check with the Bureau of Land Management, which manages the park, for any changes in the program at this link . Fun fact: this lighthouse was used for the horror movie The Ring as a location for the Moesko Island Lighthouse.

oregon coast lighthouses to visit

One of the most popular and photographed lighthouses on the Oregon coast. Used since 1894, it attracts many tourists looking for the perfect souvenir photo each year, due to its architecture and surroundings. The lighthouse, now fully automated, is also famous because it is the most “powerful” in the state. Its light in fact can be seen 20 miles off shore.

The building that was once the keeper’s house is now Heceta Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast which competes for the record of one of the most spiritually haunted places in the nation. In fact, the legend says that the tortured soul of Rue, the wife of one of the lighthouse keepers, still wanders the rooms of this house. Her arrival would be anticipated by a strong scent of flowers appearing from nowhere.

Oregon lighthouses tour

  • from June to September: daily from 11am to 5pm
  • from March to May and for the month of October: Friday to Monday from 11 am to 3 pm
  • from November to February: depending on weather conditions

You can check the official website for any schedule changes. A $5 payment is required when parking your car and you will need to leave the receipt on your dashboard as proof of payment.

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Umpqua River Lighthouse

This lighthouse is known to give visitors two reasons to visit it at two different times of the day. During the day, you can visit the lighthouse itself, while in the evening, the spectacular play of light is the main attraction. The Umpqua River Lighthouse emits a particular red and white light that is reflected on the nearby trees and thus creates a particularly suggestive atmosphere.

A historical fun fact: this was the first lighthouse along the Oregon coast. Its construction dates back to 1857 but unfortunately a phenomenon of erosion, due to the river that flowed nearby, caused its complete destruction only a few years later in 1861. The lighthouse you see today is the one that was rebuilt in 1894. Unlike all the others, it was placed inland and not close to the coast. That’s why today the Umpqua River Lighthouse no longer serves as a naval signal but only as a historical location.

oregon lighthouse tour

During the off-season there are special openings, usually on weekends, but please check the official website to be sure.

Cape Blanco Lighthouse oregon

Built in 1870 on a beautiful headland at the westernmost point of the Oregon coast, from where you can dominate the entire surrounding area. Today it is part of Cape Blanco State Park and is one of the best spots in this area for whale watching.

Coming from the north you will have to pass the small cluster of houses in Sixes and after about 1 mile, you will come to the junction with the Cape Blanco Road.

map of lighthouses in oregon

Tours cost $2 for ages 16 and up, while they are free for those under this age group.

tillamook lighthouse oregon

Obviously the lighthouses included in this article are not the only ones along the Oregon coast. Describing them all, however, would have been an almost impossible task, so in addition to the five already mentioned, you will find many others. As an example, there is the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse , not open to the public, which is located on a small island off Seaside, as well as the lighthouse of Cape Arago built off Gregory Point, also not open to the public. One of the most particular from an implementation point of view is certainly Yaquina Bay Lighthouse where the lighthouse itself is part of the same housing structure.

Cape Arago Lighthouse

Warning: Operating hours can change and closures for extraordinary events can occur, so we strongly suggest to check the venues official websites.

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Filippo Nardelli

I have a degree in History of North America and have always been fascinated by the United States.

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oregon coast lighthouse tour

GETTING TO BANDON

Chamber of commerce , new & noteworthy, hotels & resorts , vacation rentals , camping & rv, all lodging, farm to table, restaurants, grocery & deli, bars & pubs, cycle & hike , cranberry festival, 4th of july, holiday highlights, let’s go shopping, retail stores, business directory, relocation chamber members, travel alerts, chamber members     travel alerts, lighthouse tour, southern oregon coast lighthouse tour, let our lighthouses capture your imagination.

oregon coast lighthouse tour

Combining coastal history and awe-inspiring views, lighthouses capture our imagination.  Four of Oregon’s eleven lighthouses are within a short drive from Bandon.  Be sure to allow ample time to explore, take some awesome photos, and make lasting memories. 

oregon coast lighthouse tour

Day 1: Northern Lighthouses on the Southern Coast

Start your day early and travel south on HWY 101 from Reedsport.  If coming from I-5, cut across on picturesque Hwy 38 through the town of Drain where you can pick up a coffee at the local drive thru for your journey west.  Stop a few miles east of Reedsport at the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area where 60-100 Roosevelt elk hang out. (Also, a good place for an ex-coffee break before beginning your lighthouse quest.)  The scenery is beautiful, even if the elk are hanging elsewhere.

Winchester Bay, Umpqua River Lighthouse

Traveling south from Reedsport, your first lighthouse stop is the Umpqua River Lighthouse just south of Winchester Bay.  Built in 1857 to signal the entrance to the Umpqua River, the original structure was the first lighthouse on the Oregon Coast, but collapsed during a storm. Standing 65-feet tall, the current Umpqua River Lighthouse was first lit in 1894. This lighthouse is one of the few where you can still climb to the top (guided-tours only).  Be sure to visit the adjacent museum to learn the history of the lighthouse, the surrounding area, and the US Coast Guard on the Oregon Coast.

Charleston,  Cape Arago Lighthouse

Drive further south on Hwy 101 to the city of Coos Bay.  If you’re hungry, stop in at 7 Devils Brewery for a locally-sourced food menu and beer made onsite.  Several non-alcoholic, fermented beverages are also available.  After lunch, head west to Cape Arago Highway to capture views of the Cape Arago Lighthouse . The current lighthouse tower was first illuminated in 1934 and supports a unique fog horn. The lighthouse has no public access but there are great views from the Cape Arago Highway viewpoint and the Oregon Coast Trail.

Overnight Bandon

After getting your fill of the stunning Cape Argo views, retrace your steps and turn on Seven Devils Road. Head south to Highway 101, and continue south into Bandon.  To help maximize your lighthouse-viewing experience, spend the night at Bandon Inn .  The inn is located on a bluff overlooking Old Town and the marina, with river, lighthouse, and ocean views beyond.  Their location provides the perfect jumping off point to visit the Old Town merchants and numerous restaurants.  Turn into Big Wheel General Store or By the Sea Treasures for a souvenir of your lighthouse tour.  For a more lasting memento, browse the artwork at Second Street Gallery or Art by the Sea , where much of the art is inspired by Bandon, its surroundings, the lighthouses, and the Oregon coast in general.

“Casual fine dining” is the watchword in Bandon.  Our chefs and servers welcome diners to come as they are.  For a relaxing dinner, try Alloro Wine Bar and Restaurant with Italian-inspired coastal cuisine and a wine bar voted as one of the ten best in Oregon.  Seating is limited, so reservations are suggested.

Day 2: The Southern Lighthouses

Port orford,  cape blanco lighthouse.

After a restful night, grab a latte and muffin at Bandon Baking Company , situated just below Bandon Inn on 2nd Street.  For a more hearty breakfast, sit down at The Station Restaurant on the east end of Old Town.  Either is just the thing to prepare you for a trip south to Cape Blanco Lighthouse . Commissioned in 1870, it’s the oldest standing lighthouse on the Oregon Coast. Located at the state’s westernmost tip on a cliff 245-feet above the Pacific, Cape Blanco Lighthouse offers stunning ocean views.  To learn about early 20th century farm life in Oregon, stop by the historic Hughes House located nearby.  Both sites are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Battle Rock Park & Port Orford Lifeboat Station

Continue your exploration of history by driving further south into Port Orford , the oldest town on the Oregon Coast and the most westerly in the lower 48 states.  Port Orford offers some of the most scenic coastline in Oregon.  Turn into Battle Rock Park and learn how the rock got its name.  Walk next door to Red Fish Restaurant for awesome views that are sure to make your meal memorable.  Afterwards, head up to the Port Orford Lifeboat Station , a museum and interpretive center, to learn about the heroic lifesaving efforts of the US Coast Guard on the Oregon Coast.  Several short, easy trails originating at the station meander around the headlands and offer still more fantastic views.

Bandon, Coquille River Lighthouse

Heading back north, drive past downtown Bandon and out to Bullards Beach State Park to see the iconic Coquille River Lighthouse from the other side of the jetty.  Built in 1896 and decommissioned in 1939, the Coquille River Lighthouse was restored as an interpretive center in 1979.  Bring your fat-tire or mountain bike to ride the hard-packed sand, or just enjoy a stroll while watching the waves.

After returning to Bandon, top off the day with dinner at Broken Anchor or Billy Smoothboar’s Restaurant / Boar’s Nest Sports Lounge, and try a Bandon Rain craft cider.  Many are made with cranberries in honor of Bandon, Oregon’s Cranberry Capital! A taste of cranberry will have you wanting more of Bandon.

Day 3: Journey’s End

Before ending your stay, be sure to revisit your favorite breakfast spot and distinctive shops, as well as the marina in Old Town for another view of the Coquille River Lighthouse and last-minute pictures. Don’t forget to visit Face Rock Creamery and pick up some cheese curds to take with you as you head for home with tales of the sea and memories to inspire.

Driving Directions (All directions start from Highway 101)

Umpqua River Lighthouse : Just south of Winchester Bay, head west on Umpqua Lighthouse Road. Take the first right.

Cape Arago Lighthouse : In Coos Bay, head west on Newmark Ave (near Mill Casino). Follow the road 2.9 miles until you reach the flashing yellow light at the end of the road. Turn left onto Cape Arago Highway. After crossing the bridge into Charleston, stay to the left and continue onto Cape Arago Beach Loop. Drive 8.6 miles to the viewpoint.

Cape Blanco Lighthouse : 28 miles south of Bandon Old Town, turn west onto Cape Blanco Road. (Look for signs that read Cape Blanco State Park.) Travel 6 miles to the lighthouse.

Port Orford Lifeboat Station : In Port Orford, turn west onto 9th Street and head up the Coast Guard Hill to the park. There is a small sign at the intersection, but it’s easy to miss, so watch for the road.

Coquille River Lighthouse : Turn west into Bullard’s Beach State Park, just north of Bandon. Inside the park, take a left and travel 2 miles to lighthouse.

oregon coast lighthouse tour

Spectacular and Secluded

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oregon coast lighthouse tour

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Fish Fry Attracts

Contributed by Jim ProehlRepublished from the Bandon Historical Society newsletterThe Chamber of Commerce fish fry was

Visit and climb inside these 9 Oregon Coast lighthouses. Here's how

They were once beacons of light for ships in the night — a highway of flashing signals that allowed commerce to flourish along Oregon's rugged coastline in the 19th Century. 

Today, the role of lighthouses in Oregon has changed. They've gone from Pacific guideposts to popular tourist attractions bringing thousands to some of the state's most dramatic vistas. 

(They do still serve as backup navigational aids, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.)

Even though the role of lighthouse keeper has been obsolete for decades, there remains a lot of interest in walking inside these elegant buildings, climbing their rounded staircases and looking across the sweep of ocean blue while the giant eye of a Fresnel lens spins. 

The question is how to make that happen. 

Eleven lighthouses are currently standing on the Oregon Coast, but you're only allowed to walk inside of seven, climb to the top of five and walk around the lens room of two. 

The experience of visiting Oregon lighthouses is, in other words, a mixed bag. 

Here's our guide to visiting all of them, with a special emphasis on how to climb to the top. 

Lighthouses you can visit and tour

There are seven Oregon Coast lighthouses you can visit and get a tour of the inside. None of the tours are quite the same. The places you're allowed to climb, the cost of each tour, the hours and whether children can come changes from lighthouse to lighthouse. 

Our guide answers most of the big questions, but we've also included phone numbers worth calling in advance of any trip. 

This guide goes from north to south. 

Cape Meares (38 feet)

Cape Meares is the shortest of the publicly owned lighthouses on the Oregon Coast and offers a stripped back experience with plenty of options for day trip adventures.

The lighthouse is open daily 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. May through September. Hours extend to 6 p.m. on weekends during June, July and August. Admission and tours are free. 

The staircase is pretty short, but this is one of the only lighthouses where you can walk around the lens and peer out over the sea, enjoying the same view the keepers did over a century ago.

Other highlights at Cape Meares include beautiful short hikes to places such as the famed Octopus tree, a huge Sikta Spruce that historians say was used by local tribes for ceremonies and was trained into its distinctive octopus shape. The tree is 45 feet wide and 105 feet tall with huge branches jutting out 16 feet sideways from the base then turning to point straight up to the sky. 

For more information call Cape Lookout State Park at 503-842-3182.

Yaquina Head (93 feet)

The tallest lighthouse on the Oregon Coast is also the most popular and offers the best overall tours.

Interpretive rangers don't just give you a dry history, they play the role of lighthouse keeper, explaining in first-person how hard was used to power the lens and what became of keepers who didn't keep their rooms tidy. Hint: they were kicked off the rock. 

The tours take visitors to the top of the lighthouse where you're allowed to stick your head into the lens room, but you can't walk around the tip-top. 

Located just north of Newport, there's a $7 entrance fee to the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area and a $1 fee for the lighthouse tour. Tickets for lighthouse tours are sold at the visitor's center, but during summer, purchasing pre-arrival reservations is strongly recommended. Tickets can be reserved 90 days in advance on Recreation.Gov .

Fans of horror movies should also take note: Yaquina Head stood in for a fictitious lighthouse in the 2002 horror classic "The Ring."  

Yaquina Bay Lighthouse (51 feet)

While visiting Newport, visitors can easily check off a second lighthouse visit. The Yaquina Bay Lighthouse sits perched above the entrance to Yaquina Bay, a stone’s throw from the historic bayfront.

It’s fairly short, standing just 51 feet above ground, but self-guided tours are free by donation. You can't get to the lens room at the top but the windows on the second floor are a great place to take a look out over the ocean during a rainy coastal day.

The surrounding park offers picnic tables, benches and shelters making this a great stop during a day trip.

Heceta Head Lighthouse (56 feet)

The Heceta Head Lighthouse might be the most scenic lighthouse on the Oregon Coast — it's among the state's most popular photographic and Instagram locations. The view from a trail directly behind the lighthouse and from a pullout on U.S. Highway 101, offer postcard-worthy views. 

A short, scenic and somewhat steep hike is required to reach the lighthouse, where tours are available on a first-come, first-served basis. However, the educational tour with a park ranger only takes visitors into the bottom half of the lighthouse, and no one is allowed to climb up the stairs due to ongoing structural refurbishment. This may change in the future, but there's no timetable for reopening tours to the top at this point, officials said. 

The hiking trails around Heceta Head are stunning, and a good option is to connect the hike from the lighthouse to the Hobbit Trail and beach. 

Nearby: Follow the ‘Hobbit Trail’ to cliff-walled beach at Washburne State Park

Umpqua River Lighthouse (61 feet)

The first lighthouse ever built in Oregon, lighted in 1857, was at the mouth of the Umpqua River. Sadly, engineers built it a little too close to the water on a foundation of sand and it was destroyed just four years later.

The new lighthouse was built in 1894 much higher up on the landscape and set back from the ocean, making the location different from most lighthouses in its inland surroundings. 

The lighthouse, which sits adjacent to Umpqua Lighthouse State Park , has a museum nearby and offers tours for $8 for adults, $4 for children ages 5 to 17. Children under five are free. For more info, call 541-271-1894.

The lighthouse emits distinctive red-and-white automated flashes. 

Coquille River Lighthouse (40 feet)

Coquille River Lighthouse, first lighted in 1896 and 40 feet tall, sits just north of Bandon on Oregon's South Coast and makes a good stop as part of a visit to Bullards Beach State Park.

Just like Heceta Head, you're allowed to go inside the lighthouse but not climb up the stairs to the top from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. mid-May to the end of September. A museum and interpretive center is open on site during the same period. 

For more information call 541-347-2209. 

Cape Blanco Lighthouse (59 feet)

Our personal favorite lighthouse experience is Cape Blanco, guardian of the westernmost point in Oregon.

The main reason is that it has everything you look for in a lighthouse experience. 

First, the views are outrageously good. Set atop high grassy cliffs, the 59-foot lighthouse offers panoramic views across Oregon’s rugged southern coast.

Second, and most important for any family trip, children are allowed to climb to Blanco’s top and you even get to climb into the lens room, where you can appreciate the complexity of the glasswork and take in the views of the surrounding bluffs.

The tours are offered daily 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. April through October (closed Tuesdays). There's a nice little gift shop where you buy tickets. For more information, call 541-332-6774.

Lighthouses you can view from a distance

Some lighthouses can only be viewed from a distance, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't visit. 

Here's a collection of lighthouses you can look at — some up close, some from a distance.  

Tillamook Rock Lighthouse (62 feet)

Oregon's most infamous lighthouse is perched on an inhospitable rock a mile off the coast. Known as "Terrible Tilly," it's fun to watch the lighthouse get pummeled by ocean waves and contemplate what life must have been like for the poor lighthouse keepers who lived there. 

The best way to see Tillamook Rock lighthouse is by traveling to Ecola State Park and hiking the Tillamook Head Trail on a stunning stretch between Cannon Beach and Seaside.

There’s a big overhead viewpoint, but since the lighthouse sits 1.2 miles offshore, it’s very much worth bringing binoculars. 

Cape Arago Lighthouse (44 feet)

This 44-foot-high tower can be enjoyed on one of the coast's most scenic hikes near Sunset Bay State Park and south of Coos Bay.

Follow the Oregon Coast Trail from Sunset Bay up the cliffs and you'll soon see the lighthouse to the south from the trail. 

Keep going on a trail past Shore Acres State Park and to Simpson Beach for a 5-mile out-and-back trip. 

Privately owned lighthouses 

There are two privately owned lighthouses that can be seen in a few places on the south coast. Cleft of the Rock lighthouse is built into a private home; Pelican Bay Lighthouse can be seen from Brookings. 

Zach Urness has been an outdoors reporter, photographer and videographer in Oregon for 11 years. To support his work, subscribe to the Statesman Journal.

Urness is the author of “Best Hikes with Kids: Oregon” and “Hiking Southern Oregon.” He can be reached at [email protected] or (503) 399-6801. Find him on Twitter at @ZachsORoutdoors.

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Lighthouse on Oregon's Adventure Coast

THE BRIGHT SPOT ON THE COAST

Visitors to Oregon’s Adventure Coast come for many reasons. Getting a chance to experience coastal life is one of the main reasons. And what could be more representative than the marriage of land and sea than Oregon’s lighthouses? Both romantic and mysterious, lighthouses have been the backdrop of songs, stories, and dreams. For millennia, these guideposts have helped sailors navigate rugged coastal terrain.

A whopping five of Oregon’s nine lighthouses are within one hour of the Coos Bay, North Bend, Charleston area.

Cape Arago Lighthouse 12 miles southwest of Coos Bay/North Bend in Charleston This 44-foot-high tower was first illuminated in 1934 with a unique fog horn. The original structures built on this site in 1866 and 1908 were damaged by the weather and waves. There is no public access but there are great views from Bastendorff Beach County Park, the Oregon Coast Trail and the viewpoint on Cape Arago Hwy. In Sept of 2008, the land was returned to the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians and the bridge that linked the lighthouse’s island to the shore was demolished. The Fresnel lens was removed in 2013 and is currently on display at the Coos History Museum .

Coquille River Lighthouse Interpretive Center 20 miles south of Coos Bay in Bandon. Built in 1896, decommissioned in 1939, the Coquille River Lighthouse was restored as an interpretive center in 1979. It sits on Bullards Beach State Park in Bandon. Tours available Thu. - Mon. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Tue. - Wed.) from mid-May through September. It’s staffed with volunteers who interpret the history of the area. The tower is closed to the public for safety concerns. Click here for more information or call 541-347-2209.

Umpqua River Lighthouse 19 miles north of North Bend off Hwy 101 The first lighthouse sited on the Oregon Coast and was illuminated in 1894. Its lens emits distinctive red and white flashes. Summer tours available, visit the Lighthouse Visitor Center next door.

Heceta Head Lighthouse: 59 miles north of Coos Bay and 12 miles north of Florence First illuminated in 1894, its light can be seen 21 miles from land, making it the strongest light on the Oregon Coast. Join us for a staff-guided lighthouse program from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. in the summer and 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. in the winter, weather and staff permitting. Click here for more information or call 541-547-3416.

Cape Blanco Lighthouse: 48 miles south of Coos Bay, and 9 miles North of Port Orford off Hwy 101 The oldest standing lighthouse on the Oregon Coast; commissioned in 1870. Its cliff top location is 245 feet above the ocean; its tower rises 59 feet. The road to the lighthouse is closed for public vehicle use. Visitors may walk a quarter mile from the gate to the lighthouse for tours and to visit the grounds. Managed by the Bureau of Land Management, tours cost $2 for adults (free for youth 15 and younger) and will allow visitors into the workroom only. Tours: April-Oct. 31, Wednesday - Monday, 10 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Last tour ticket sold at 3:15 p.m. (closed Tuesday). Cape Blanco Lighthouse Greeting Center and gift shop is open 10 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., Wednesday - Monday (closed Tuesday).

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Yaquina Head Lighthouse Tours

There's something for everyone at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. Extending one mile out into the Pacific Ocean from the Oregon coast, Yaquina Head is a great place to spot wildlife such as gray whales, harbor seals, and nesting seabirds. At low tide the sea floor is exposed and colorful animals such as orange sea stars, purple sea urchins, and giant green anemones are visible. At high tide a visit to Cobble Beach is an auditory treat as the rounded basalt rocks create an applause-like sound as the waves roll in. If the winter storms or summer winds are raging, take refuge in the Interpretive Center and discover thousands of years of natural history and more than 140 years of lighthouse history.

Standing 93 feet tall on the west westernmost point of the basalt headland, Oregon's tallest lighthouse has been a bright beacon of the night, guiding ships and their supplies along the west coast since the light first lit in 1873. Still an 'active aid to navigation' today, a limited number of visitors can tour the lighthouse with an interpretive guide. Pre-arrival reservations are strongly recommended, book your tour below.

Adventure is at Your Fingertips

Geographic Coordinates

Yaquina Head is located on the central coast of Oregon at the north end of Newport.

Newport is located 55 miles west of Corvallis. From Corvallis, take Hwy 20 to US Hwy 101 to Newport. Turn right onto Hwy 101 and proceed north 4.5 miles to Lighthouse Drive. Turn left to enter Yaquina Head.

Driving from the north on Hwy 101, turn right onto Lighthouse Drive approximately 0.5 miles south of the Newport city limit sign.

There are brown signs on the highway and at the stop light at the intersection of Hwy 101 and Lighthouse Drive to help direct you to the park.

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Our mission is to serve the 50+ traveler who's ready to cross a few items off their bucket list.

7 Historic Lighthouses To Visit Along Oregon’s Coast

oregon coast lighthouse tour

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Sea stacks and jagged reefs, capes protruding into the ocean featuring sandstone cliffs, and shifting sand dunes make the Oregon coast the stunning shoreline we love. However, these same landscape features present threats to ships getting close to the shore. Lighthouses helped their captains navigate these dangers, guiding them to safety.

The earliest lighthouses had one white light warning seafarers that a shore was close. Visible about eight miles at sea, it didn’t always allow enough time to bring the ships to safety. Introducing the Fresnel lens in the mid-1800s brought a dramatic improvement. The elaborate system of lenses extended the light’s visibility to around 20 miles and allowed it to form individual patterns. With this innovation, the lighthouses could each have a signature pattern. Now they acted like navigation systems, signaling ship captains their location on the shore.

No longer needed for navigation, historic lighthouses now stand as witnesses of a past era. Automated, with no need for keepers, a few are still operating, and seafarers rely on them as backup navigation systems.

Seven of the original lighthouses of the Oregon coast are open to the public. If you time your visit right, you can tour them to learn about their history and understand the way they work.

Cape Meares Lighthouse in Oregon.

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1. Cape Meares Lighthouse

The northernmost Oregon lighthouse open to visitors, the Cape Meares Lighthouse is the shortest on the coast. Though only 38 feet high, the lighthouse stands 217 feet above the ocean on the edge of the cape. When built, this lighthouse was so isolated, it didn’t even have a wagon road leading to it. All building materials, including the large Fresnel lens, which weighed over a ton, were brought on a ship and pulled up on the high cliff using a hand-operated crane built from spruce trees found on the cape.

The Cape Meares Lighthouse started operating on January 1, 1890. The keeper used a kerosene lamp, later replaced by oil, inside the lens to flash its signature combination of white and red light.

Though decommissioned in 1963, the lighthouse still stands as part of the Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint and is open for tours between April and November. You can visit it as a stop on the Three Capes Scenic Route.

Yaquina Head Lighthouse in Oregon.

Tomas Nevesely / Shutterstock

2. Yaquina Head Lighthouse

After seeing the shortest lighthouse on our list, you’ll reach the tallest as you make your way south on the Oregon coast. Standing 93 feet tall at 162 feet above sea level, the Yaquina Head Lighthouse , on the tip of a narrow strip of land, is still active and working, its light visible for 19 miles offshore. Built in 1873, it uses its original lens, though the light is automated now, flashing its signature pattern all day long.

You can take a guided tour of the lighthouse and even climb the spiral stairway to the top. With 114 stairs, it is a long way to climb, but if you do, you’ll have gorgeous views, and you might spot a few migrating grey whales. However, you can have a great experience touring the surroundings and the lower room of the lighthouse even if you opt not to climb to the top.

You’ll find this lighthouse in the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area . While there, explore the tide pools and watch seals and migrating sea birds on the rocks.

The road leading to the state park and lighthouse is off Highway 101, just three miles north of Newport.

Yaquina Bay Lighthouse in Oregon.

Nadia Yong / Shutterstock

3. Yaquina Bay Lighthouse

The Yaquina Bay Lighthouse is at the southern end of Newport, at the mouth of the Yaquina River. It doesn’t look like a traditional lighthouse, though; in fact, it resembles more of a two-story house with a tower attached to it. The only historic wooden lighthouse on the coast still standing, and the only one with the living quarters attached, it was built in 1871 and decommissioned in 1874, serving the shortest time as a lighthouse.

Restored and relit in 1996, the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse is a working lighthouse, with a steady white light shining from dusk to dawn, and is open for visitors as a museum.

To reach it, turn right off Highway 101 and follow signs for the Yaquina Bay Recreation Site.

Heceta Head Lighthouse in Oregon.

Peter W. Murphy / Shutterstock

4. Heceta Head Lighthouse

The Heceta Head Lighthouse is the most photographed and most visited lighthouse on the Oregon coast. Still active, its automated signature beacon is visible for 21 miles.

Built in 1894, the 56-foot lighthouse stands on Heceta Head, one of the most scenic areas of the Oregon coast. Though its location is the primary reason for its popularity, the lighthouse has another claim to fame as one of the most haunted lighthouses in America. Its ghost, known as the Grey Lady, was the wife of a keeper from the 1890s.

You can take a tour of the outdoor area and the ground floor of the tower. Upper levels are closed for visitors, but a short trail takes you to a viewpoint of the lens.

The original keeper’s house, which is still standing, is a bed and breakfast where you can spend a night. The current innkeepers also offer tours of the first floor of the keeper’s house by appointment, which can be made by calling (866) 547-3696. The bed and breakfast is near Heceta Head Lighthouse Scenic Viewpoint . Note that there’s a half-mile-long trail through the forest between the viewpoint and the bed and breakfast, but though it’s short, it is relatively steep, with an elevation gain of 150 feet. Luckily, the bed and breakfast has its own private driveway and parking lot for overnight guests, so you don’t have to make the hike unless you choose to. If possible, since you’ll be at one of the best spots for whale watching, give yourself more time in the area.

Editor’s Note: For more whale-watching inspiration, consider these seven tips for whale watching along the Oregon coast .

Umpqua River Lighthouse in Oregon.

Underawesternsky / Shutterstock

5. Umpqua River Lighthouse

The Umpqua River Lighthouse was the first one built on the Oregon coast, though you cannot see the same structure today. Shifting sands caused the original to collapse only four years after it was built. Signaling the entrance to the Umpqua River, the one still standing replaced it in 1894. Still operating, it shines its alternating white and red beams.

Part of Umpqua Lighthouse State Park , the lighthouse itself is relatively quiet, though it is surrounded by the Oregon Sand Dunes and overlooks a busy day-use and camping area, which are often teeming with people. You’ll find the lighthouse if you follow the Umpqua Lighthouse Loop outside of Winchester Bay, off Highway 101.

Coquille River Lighthouse in Oregon.

Bob Pool / Shutterstock

6. Coquille River Lighthouse

The Coquille River Lighthouse, built in 1896, originally stood on a rocky islet reached by a footbridge. Time has changed the landscape, and now the north jetty is connected to the land where the lighthouse stands.

Featuring a 40-foot-tall cylindrical tower connected to an elongated, octagonal room with a fog signal, the lighthouse was active until 1939. Then it sat abandoned until the late 1970s, when it was renovated and opened up to the public as an interpretive center. Claimed as a symbol of nearby Bandon, it is also referred to as the Bandon Light and is open for visitors from May to October.

Part of Bullards Beach State Park , you’ll find it about two miles north of Bandon.

Cape Blanco Lighthouse in Oregon.

egventura3 / Shutterstock

7. Cape Blanco Lighthouse

The southernmost lighthouse on this tour, the Cape Blanco Lighthouse , with its 59-foot tower, stands 245 feet above the water. Built in 1870, it is the oldest continuously operating light on the Oregon coast, with the highest focal plane above the sea. Jutting out one-and-a-half-miles into the sea, it sits on the westernmost tip of the coast. It is also the lighthouse that had the first woman keeper.

Away from the main tourist sites of the Oregon coast, at the end of a five-mile road off Highway 101, this lighthouse promises a quieter, more contemplative experience.

Part of Cape Blanco State Park , the lighthouse offers guided tours from April to October. You can also tour the historic Hughes House dating from 1989, and hike down to the beach to play in the sand.

You can reach all these lighthouses during one long road trip down the Oregon Coast Highway 101. Considering the distance between the northernmost Cape Meares and southernmost Cape Blanco is 225 miles, it would be best to take a few days for it and experience other attractions on the coast along the way.

Check the websites to make sure the lighthouses are open when you plan to visit and plan your visit between May and October for the best chance to catch them open. But don’t be disappointed if you find them closed. They are worth a stop, even if you only see them from the outside. Besides the views, their surroundings are perfect for whale watching , beachcombing, hiking , and wildlife viewing. For more Oregon coast inspiration, also read up on how to safely observe coastal Oregon’s King Tides .

Image of Emese Fromm

Emese Fromm is a Phoenix-based freelance travel writer, translator, and language instructor. Besides TravelAwaits , you can find her travel articles in Lonely Planet, Roadtrippers Magazine , Matador Network, and GoNOMAD, among other publications. A native Hungarian from Transylvania (Romania), Emese grew up surrounded by multiple cultures and speaks several languages. Three decades after leaving Romania, this background still helps her appreciate and connect with people of different backgrounds, which shows up in her articles, which highlight the culture, history, and legends of the places she visits. Besides writing for online travel magazines, she publishes a travel blog, teaches Hungarian as a foreign language, and works as a freelance translator.

Yaquina Head Lighthouse Tours

Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area

There's something for everyone at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. Extending one mile out into the Pacific Ocean from the Oregon coast, Yaquina Head is a great place to spot wildlife such as gray whales, harbor seals, and nesting seabirds. At low tide the sea floor is exposed and colorful animals such as orange sea stars, purple sea urchins, and giant green anemones are visible. At high tide a visit to Cobble Beach is an auditory treat as the rounded basalt rocks create an applause-like sound as the waves roll in. If the winter storms or summer winds are raging, take refuge in the Interpretive Center and discover thousands of years of natural history and more than 140 years of lighthouse history. Standing 93 feet tall on the westernmost point of the basalt headland, Oregon's tallest lighthouse has been a bright beacon of the night, guiding ships and their supplies along the west coast since the light first lit in 1873. Still an 'active aid to navigation' today, a limited number of visitors can tour the lighthouse with an interpretive guide. Pre-arrival reservations during the summer months are strongly recommended, and can be booked 90 days in advance.

Need to Know

  • There is a $7 fee per vehicle. Yaquina Head honors and issues all America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands passes (senior, annual, military, access, volunteer, and 4th grade). Yaquina Head also honors and issues Oregon Pacific Coast passes.
  • Visitors should be aware that summer weather at Yaquina Head is very unpredictable and can bring cold temperatures, high winds, and fog. Winter usually brings rain and high winds.
  • The Interpretive Center at Yaquina Head is accessible for persons with a disability or otherwise limited physical mobility, as are observation decks and restrooms throughout the site.
  • Only service animals trained to provide tasks for persons with disabilities are permitted inside the Interpretive Center and Historic Lighthouse. Pets may accompany visitors on trails and walkways except near the lighthouse and in the tide pools. They must be on a leash and under physical control at all times.
  • Click here for more information about your visit.

Changes and Cancellations

No refunds once tour starts. Reservations will be cancelled and tickets forfeited if they are not picked up at the Interpretive Center at least 15 minutes prior to tour time.

Contact Information

Mailing address.

750 Newport OR 97365

Phone Number

541-574-3100

Available Tours and Tickets

  • Yaquina Head Lighthouse Tour

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Yaquina Head Lighthouse at the edge of a headland.Yaquina Head Lighthouse

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Lighthouses

Walk up the narrow metal spiral staircase until you reach the summit, where you’ll find a giant, gleaming light wrapped in glass and mirrors.

Among the 11 Oregon lighthouses, five are a short drive from Lincoln City, with stories waiting to be told and histories waiting to be discovered. Tall sentinels that once guided stalwart sailors away from rocks in the night, a light in the dark, wrapped in history and ghost stories—there are 11 lighthouses along the 363 miles of the Oregon Coast, each beckoning you home.

Cape Meares

Although it’s the shortest lighthouse on the Oregon Coast, Cape Meares Lighthouse is no less spectacular than its neighbors, standing at 38 feet high, with an original Fresnel lens made in Paris, France. In its heyday, the light from Cape Meares could be seen 21 nautical miles out to sea. The lighthouse is free for tours and features a gift shop and interpretive center.

Yaquina Head

At 93 feet tall, Yaquina Head Lighthouse is the tallest in Oregon and is still in operation today, on the north end of Newport . Although the original oil burning Fresnel lens has been replaced by one that runs on commercial power and the lighthouse keeper gone, the 1800s history of Yaquina Head shines on. This lighthouse features tours and an Interpretive Center that tells the story of the lighthouse and the surrounding natural area.

Yaquina Bay

A sister lighthouse to the Yaquina Head Lighthouse, Yaquina Bay sits atop a bluff at the mouth of the Yaquina River. It was officially restored and privately maintained for navigation in 1996. Believed to be the oldest structure in Newport and the only existing Oregon lighthouse with living quarters attached, Yaquina Bay is still functional, shining a steady white light from dusk to dawn, 161 feet above sea level. The lighthouse is open to the public for tours and features an interpretative center.

Heceta Head

South of Yachats , perched on a bluff 150 feet above the Pacific, Heceta Head Lighthouse keeps vigil with one of the brightest lights on the coast, casting out 21 miles to sea. At 56 feet tall, Heceta Head also offers a bed and breakfast in the historic lighthouse keeper’s house, as well as tours and an interpretive center.

Cleft of the Rock

A privately owned lighthouse that provides official navigation aid for the Coast Guard, Cleft of the Rock Lighthouse can be found south of Yachats on the northwest corner of the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area. While it is closed to the public, it can be viewed from Highway 101, near mile marker 166.

Other Oregon Coast Lighthouses

Tillamook rock.

Clinging to an island 1.2 miles offshore, Tillamook Rock Lighthouse can be seen from Ecola State Park, south of Cannon Beach.

Umpqua River

Nearly identical in structure to Heceta Head, but a little taller, the Umpqua River Lighthouse is located near Winchester Bay.

Closed to the public, Cape Arago is the third in a series of lighthouses to occupy this spot and is difficult to find, located just south to the entrance to Coos Bay.

Coquille River

Often called the Bandon Light, the Coquille River Lighthouse is staffed May through October and located just north of Bandon.

Cape Blanco

Two hundred and forty-five feet above the ocean, Cape Blanco Lighthouse towers above the westernmost point in Oregon, north of Port Orford.

Pelican Bay

Closed to the public and standing 141 feet above the Chetco River in Brookings-Harbor, this is the youngest of Oregon’s lighthouses.

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Scenic Drives & Viewpoints From gorgeous views of the coastline to beautiful hikes to pristine dunes—bring your camera and your sense of wonder to Lincoln City.

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Top Central Coast Attractions The Heart of the Oregon Coast is famous for its historic railroads, cheese factories, glass artisans and, of course, its rugged beauty.

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  • National Parks
  • Tiny Houses

Coastal History: A Guide to the Oregon Coast’s Lighthouses and Historic Sites

Posted by Mac Misseldine March 28, 2019 Updated September 01, 2023

Follow the 382-mile Oregon Coast Trail and you’ll discover a number of historic treasures along the way.

The Oregon Coast is home to 12 lighthouses, many of which were commissioned during the 19th century. Most of the historic sites cluster around the northwest tip of the state where Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery finally reached the Pacific Ocean and John Jacob Astor founded what would become the first city in the state, Astoria. But there’s plenty to see down south, too — whether you’re looking for a peek into 19th century farm life or a glimpse at one of nine year-round lifeboat stations from the mid-1900s.

This list has every single Oregon lighthouse plus a half dozen notable historic sites you won’t want to miss either. We’ve also outlined a great hike to go with each one in case you want to make your visit extra adventurous. So grab your hiking boots and ready for a history lesson as we guide you through our favorite lighthouses and historic sites on the Oregon Coast.

The Astoria Column

astoria column at dusk oregon

With a viewing deck 600 feet above sea level, the Astoria Column offers unrivaled views of the Columbia River, Young’s Bay, the Coast Range, and in the distance, the Pacific Ocean.

More than 400,000 people visit the Astoria Column each year, making it one of the most visited parks in all of Oregon. Most come for the sweeping panoramic vistas, but if you look closely you’ll appreciate the history, too.

Modeled after Trajan’s Column in Rome, the Astoria Column features original artwork by Italian artist Attilio Pusteria honoring the rich history of Columbia River Mouth. Using a unique technique known as sgraffito , Pusteria depicts three important episodes in the region’s Euro-American history: the explorations of Robert Gray , the arrival of Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery, and the arrival of the Tonquin , the ship John Jacob Astor used to establish an outpost for the Pacific Fur Company.

There’s no charge to climb the Astoria Column and enjoy the viewing platform, though the park charges a small parking fee for vehicles. You’ll find a small gift shop near the column where your little ones can buy a model airplane to fly from the top of the Column.

You can skip the parking fee by taking the Cathedral Tree to Coxcomb Hill Hike , which culminates at the Astoria Column. The three-mile lollipop loop also includes a visit to the Cathedral Tree, a giant 300-year-old Sitka Spruce with a hollow base that you can walk inside.

  • Built: 1926
  • Best Time to Visit: Year-Round
  • Hours: Dawn-to-Dusk

Fort Clatsop

fort clatsop

Fort Clatsop served as the winter encampment for Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery from December 1805 to March 1806. Through the winter they traded with the local Chinook Indians, repaired clothing and equipment, and gathered food for their journey home.

The original fort didn’t survive, but there’s an excellent replica of Fort Clatsop on the original grounds based on descriptions from Lewis and Clark’s journals. The visitor’s center features an exhibit hall and bookstore, and there are illustrative trails throughout the surrounding area.

The best part of Fort Clatsop is the costumed actors and ranger-led programs, though these are only available over the summer from mid-June through Labor Day weekend. They also run a special program the week after Christmas, with limited events the rest of the year. The park itself is open year-round, so don’t rule out Fort Clatsop just because you can’t make it when the rangers are wearing beaver hats and moccasins.

The easiest hike to Fort Clatsop is the Netul River Trail along the Lewis and Clark River. If a 2.4-mile river-walk sounds too easy, you can take the 13-mile Fort to Sea Hike from Sunset Beach.

  • Built: 1805
  • Best Time to Visit: Mid-June Through Labor Day Weekend
  • Hours: 9am–6pm (Summer), 9am–5pm (Winter)
  • Tours: Free Ranger-Led Programs

Fort Stevens

fort stevens oregon

Once the primary military defense installation in the three-fort Harbor Defense System at the mouth of the Columbia River, Fort Stevens served as an Army base from the Civil War until the end of World War II.

You can walk the grounds at your own pace on the Fort Stevens Military Loop Hike , but the best way to appreciate the area’s rich history is from the back of a WWII Army transport truck on a guided tour. You’ll see the Civil War earthen fort, tour the concrete coast artillery gun batteries, and get a feel for life inside a military jail as you walk through the last brick guard house in the country. The tour also takes you underground through a rare gun battery that served as a World War II command center.

When you’re done touring the grounds, check out the museum for a closer look at the details in Fort Stevens’ history. There’s also a beautiful community garden off the museum that honors local veterans.

  • Built: 1863
  • Best time to visit: tours are available over the summer
  • Hours: museum is open 10am–6pm
  • Tours: free tours from the back of a WWII Army transport truck

Peter Iredale Shipwreck

Peter Iredale Shipwreck

The old military base isn’t the only site worth seeing at Fort Stevens State Park. You’ll also find the remains of the Peter Iredale shipwreck — an ominous reminder that the mouth of the Columbia was once known as the “graveyard of the Pacific.”

Named after the owner of a British shipping fleet, the steel-hulled barque was sailing from Mexico to Portland when it ran aground in October 1906. When weather conditions buried the hull in sand and scattered hopes of retrieval, the ship was sold for scrap. Now, all that remains is the ghostly shell of the rusted bow and ribs.

It only takes a few minutes to walk down to the beach and see what’s left of the shipwreck, so we recommend using the rest of your afternoon to appreciate everything else Fort Stevens State Park has to offer. With nine miles of paved bike trails and six miles of hiking trails, there’s plenty to explore. Start with the Fort Stevens State Park Loop , then head up to the Clatsop Spit Loop Hike to see the South Jetty.

  • Built: Ship Constructed in 1890, Wrecked in 1906
  • Hours: Open Dawn-to-Dusk

Tillamook Rock Lighthouse

tillamook rock lighthouse

With a nickname like “Terrible Tilly,” you know the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse has a few stories to tell. Resting atop a basalt sea stack over a mile off Tillamook Head, it’s a miracle the lighthouse is still standing after over a century of battling gale-force winds and massive breakers.

It took over a year-and-a-half to build the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse before it officially opened in January 1881. On top of abysmal construction conditions, a master mason was swept out to sea while surveying the site. At one point, the construction crew was marooned on the island without provisions for two weeks when the waves swept away their tools and supplies.

After completion, conditions were so challenging for the four-person lighthouse crew that they received special permission for shorter rotations. Even then, 42 days on and 21 days off was mentally and physically grueling for the lighthouse keepers.

The Tillamook Rock Lighthouse’s lantern room and Fresnel lens were smashed by boulders during a winter storm in 1934, but the lighthouse wasn’t decommissioned until September of 1957. It’s now under private ownership and closed to the public, but you can enjoy distant views of Terrible Tilly from Ecola State Park.

For a short hike with an excellent vantage of the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, try the three-mile Clatsop Loop . If you’re in the mood for a full tour of Tillamook Head, you can reach the same viewpoint along the longer Tillamook Head Traverse Hike .

  • Built: 1881
  • Hours: No Public Access (View From Afar)

Cape Meares Lighthouse

cape meares lighthouse

You’ll find the Cape Meares Lighthouse on the north end of the picturesque Three Capes Scenic Route, about ten miles west of Tillamook. The park grounds are open year-round from 7am to dusk, though the lighthouse is only open from May to September.

Originally commissioned in 1889, the Cape Meares Lighthouse is a relatively small lighthouse. Of course height isn’t much of an issue when you’re sitting on a cliff 200 feet above the water, so the shorter profile was never an issue for ships at sea.

The distinctive feature here is the lighthouse’s Fresnel lens. After being manufactured in Paris, the lens was shipped around Cape Horn and hoisted up the towering cliffs of Cape Meares — an impressive feat in 1889. The lighthouse remained in service for 74 years until it was decommissioned in 1963.

The lighthouse is the centerpiece of the Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint , but it’s not the only attraction here. Follow the Cape Meares Hike and you’ll see the Octopus Tree (I trust you can picture it based on the name), and the Big Sitka Spruce, the largest Sitka Spruce in the state of Oregon. The clifftop viewpoint near the lighthouse offers tremendous views of Three Arch Rocks, and is a popular whale watching spot during migration season.

  • Built: 1889
  • Best Time to Visit: May to September
  • Hours: 11am–4pm Weekdays, 11am–6pm Weekends

Yaquina Head Lighthouse

yaquina head lighthouse

Originally constructed by the US Army Corps of Engineers, the 93-foot Yaquina Head Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse on the Oregon Coast. It stands on the tip of a rugged basalt peninsula that extends almost one mile into the Pacific Ocean.

Unlike the many decommissioned lighthouses you’ll find along the Oregon coast, the Yaquina Head Lighthouse is still active. The 1868 Fresnel lens has been modernized to run on commercial power, and the oil-burning wicks have been replaced by a 1000-watt globe. Passing ships can see the light up to 20 miles out at sea.

The lighthouse is operated by the Bureau of Land Management , and the local staff is more than happy to take you up the winding staircase for a tour. The view from atop the lighthouse is extraordinary, offering an excellent vantage of nearby Colony Rock. Keep a sharp eye out for seals and sea lions in the swells below, and gray whales off the coast during migration season.

If you have enough time to make an afternoon of your visit, pack your hiking boots and hit the Yaquina Head Hike . The 3.4-mile hike takes you to the lighthouse, Quarry Cove, Cobble Beach, Communications Hill, and Salal Hill.

  • Built: 1872
  • Best Time to Visit: July 1 to September 15
  • Hours: 7am–Sunset (Grounds), 10am–5pm (Interpretive Center)
  • Tours: Free Daily Tours From July to September, Limited Offerings Rest of Year

Yaquina Bay Lighthouse

yaquina bay lighthouse

The Yaquina Bay Lighthouse is the last remaining wood lighthouse of its kind in the Pacific Northwest. It’s also the oldest building in the town of Newport.

Originally constructed in 1871, the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse only served the area for a few years until the Yaquina Head Lighthouse was commissioned. The building fell into disrepair after being decommissioned, but was later refurbished as the residence of John Polhemus, chief engineer with the Army Corps of Engineers for the North Jetty project.

Over time the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse served the US Lifesaving Service and the US Coast Guard before it was abandoned again. The lighthouse was nearly demolished at one point, but it was eventually restored to its former glory in 1974.

In December 1996, the light was restored to the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse after over a century of going dark. Today, it serves as a US Coast Guard Beacon, shining a steady white light for local mariners from dusk to dawn.

You can reach the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse on two hikes: the Newport Beach Hike , and the Newport Bayfront Hike . The light itself is closed to the public, but you can still explore parts of the home. There’s a covered display detailing local shipwrecks, and a memorial for local fishermen who have perished at sea.

  • Built: 1871
  • Best Time to Visit: year-round
  • Hours: 11am–4pm (Summer), 12pm–4pm (Fall, Winter, Spring)

Cleft of the Rock Lighthouse

cleft of the rock lighthouse

The Cleft of the Rock Lighthouse is one of two Oregon lighthouses that are part of a private residence. You can’t visit or tour this lighthouse, but you’ll enjoy an excellent vantage of the unique structure along the Amanda’s Trail Hike .

The Cleft of the Rock Lighthouse is sometimes referred to as the Cape Perpetua Lighthouse, as it’s nestled on the north spur of Cape Perpetua under the shadow of the cape. The lighthouse marks the cape for ships sailing between Coos Bay and Yaquina Bay.

The lighthouse was built in 1976 by Jim Gibbs, who served as a lighthouse attendant at the notorious Tillamook Rock Light up the coast. The Cleft of the Rock Lighthouse is modeled after the Fiddle Reef Lighthouse on the southern shore of Vancouver Island, and incorporates various pieces of West Coast lighthouses to preserve their rich maritime history. The optic lens actually comes from the Solander Island Light off Vancouver Island.

  • Built: 1976

Heceta Head Lighthouse

haceta head lighthouse

Built in 1894, the Heceta Head Lighthouse was the last federal lighthouse built on the Oregon coast. The automated beacon is the strongest on the Oregon coast, visible up to 21 miles out to sea. It’s also the most photographed lighthouse in Oregon.

The Heceta Head Lighthouse was recently restored to its original glory, though the chief lighthouse keeper’s old house was demolished in 1940. Today, one of the two oil houses serves as a small museum, the old garage houses a little gift shop, and the assistant lighthouse keepers’ house is a charming bed and breakfast .

Tours are available year-round, though you can’t see the Fresnel lens. Apart from the lighthouse’s rich history, the location offers incredible views of the surrounding area. From the top of the lighthouse you’ll see south to the Devil’s Elbow headland, Devil’s Elbow Beach, and the Cape Creek Bridge. The grounds provide an excellent vantage of Conical Rock, part of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge.

You’re welcome to park at the Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint for a small fee, but we prefer to make the journey on foot. The 6.3-mile Hobbit Beach to Heceta Head Hike offers the best views along the journey, while the 3.4-mile Heceta Head Hike offers a shorter alternative for those with less time to spare.

  • Built: 1894
  • Best Time to Visit: Whale Migration Season (December–January, March–June)
  • Hours: 11am–3pm (Summer), 11am–2pm (Winter)
  • Tours: Year-Round

Umpqua River Lighthouse

umpqua river lighthouse

Fun fact: the Umpqua River Lighthouse is actually the second lighthouse in this area. Oregon’s first lighthouse was constructed nearby on the river in 1857, but the structure collapsed in 1863. The region remained dark for over 30 years until the Umpqua River Lighthouse came online in 1894.

The Umpqua River Lighthouse is an outlier on the Oregon coast. It’s unusually far from the coast (the farthest of any maritime lighthouse in the state, actually), and it’s the only lighthouse that emits a bicolored beam with alternating red and white flashes.

The Coast Guard declared the lighthouse unnecessary for safe maritime navigation in 2009, so Douglas County took over the maintenance and tours. The museum is publicly accessible, but you’ll need to sign up for a tour to visit the lighthouse itself.

The best route to the Umpqua River Lighthouse is the Lake Marie Loop Hike . This quick, 1.7-mile loop with two spurs takes you all the way around Lake Marie for a full tour of Umpqua Lighthouse State Park .

  • Best Time to Visit: May–October
  • Hours: 10am–4pm

Cape Arago Lighthouse

cape arago lighthouse

The Cape Arago Lighthouse sits on Chief’s Island off Gregory Point. The structure you see today is actually the third iteration of the Cape Arago Lighthouse. The first was built in 1866, and the second version was built in 1908. The third time must have been the charm, as the 1934 building still stands today.

Take a peek at this lighthouse from a distance and you’ll quickly see how transportation to the lighthouse was historically a challenge. The first lightkeepers traveled to Chief’s Island by boat, a short but perilous journey that resulted in at least one death. Several low bridges were built and subsequently destroyed by winter storms. They tried a wire-rope tramway across a higher passage, but that ended in disaster when the cable broke and an assistant fell to the rocks below. Eventually they built a high bridge across the passage in 1898, though it has since been dismantled.

The Cape Arago Lighthouse was deactivated in 2006. In 2013, the government signed Chief’s Island and Gregory Point over to the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians.

Public access is no longer permitted, but you can appreciate the Cape Arago Lighthouse from a few nearby viewpoints. Our favorite spots are from Shore Acres State Park via the Shore Acres Loop Hike , and Yoakam Point via the Yoakam Point Loop Hike . If you don’t feel like getting your boots dirty, you can also see the lighthouse from Lighthouse Beach.

  • Built: 1934
  • Hours: No Public Access

Coquille River Lighthouse

Coquille River Lighthouse

One of the smaller lighthouses on the Oregon coast, the 47-foot Coquille River Lighthouse was built in 1896. It was the last official lighthouse constructed on the Oregon coast.

Most lighthouses have a rich maritime history, but the Coquille River Lighthouse is one of the few with direct ties to the land. When a giant fire broke out in 1936 and destroyed the town of Bandon, the lighthouse served as the refugee center for residents escaping the ruined city. The lighthouse’s tender ferried the townspeople across the river to safety, earning a special place in the town’s history.

Sadly, the lighthouse was abandoned by the Coast Guard a few years later in 1939. The Army Corps of Engineers worked with Oregon State Parks to restore the lighthouse beginning in 1976, and there were major repairs in 2007 to mitigate storm damage. The light itself is unsafe and closed to visitors, but the signal room is open for the public.

The best way to reach the Coquille River Lighthouse is on the Bullards Beach Hike , an easy 4.6-mile in-and-out hike around Bullards Beach State Park .

  • Built: 1896
  • Best Time to Visit: Mid-May through September
  • Hours: 11am–5pm

The Hughes House

hughes house oregon

For a taste of 19th century farm life, head to the historic Hughes House in southern Oregon. The home was constructed in 1898 by an Irish immigrant named Patrick Hughes, who ran a profitable dairy farm in the area. The home remained in the Hughes family for over 70 years until Patrick’s descendents sold the land to Oregon State Parks in 1971.

The Hughes House was designed and built by a Swedish immigrant using old-growth cedar from Port Orford. The 11-room home is remarkably well-preserved, and the entire house is open for tours from April to October. The tour guides often don period attire and reenact living history conversations, so it’s a fun experience for history buffs.

The best way to get to the Hughes House is on the north loop of the Cape Blanco Loop Hike . You’ll find a trail to the Hughes House near the Sixes River Trailhead.

  • Built: 1898
  • Best Time to Visit: April–October
  • Hours: 10am–3:30pm
  • Tours: Free Tours Every Day (Closed Tuesdays)

Cape Blanco Lighthouse

cape blanco lighthouse

The Cape Blanco Lighthouse sits 245 feet above the sea on the state’s westernmost tip. Originally constructed in 1870, it’s the oldest continually operating beacon of Oregon’s 12 lighthouses. That’s not the only claim to fame — the Cape Blanco Lighthouse claims the highest perch of Oregon’s lighthouses, the first female lightkeeper in the state, and the longest serving lightkeeper in state history (with an impressive 42-year service record).

Loggers leveled the spruce forest that once covered the headland in order to improve visibility, so you’ll enjoy magnificent views from the lighthouse grounds. Look north to see Gull Rock, Castle Rock, and Blacklock Point, then swivel south to see Port Orford Heads, Humbug Mountain, and Cape Sebastian in the distance.

Cape Blanco has a nasty reputation for rough winter storms, so it’s best to visit during the warmer months from April through October. Tours are available Wednesdays through Mondays from 10am to 3:15pm. This is one of the most popular lighthouses in Oregon, so the tours fill up fast.

The best way to enjoy the lighthouse and Cape Blanco State Park is on the Cape Blanco Loop Hike . The hike consists of two loops, taking you south to the Elk River Mouth and Needle Rock, then north to the Sixes River Mouth.

  • Built: 1870
  • Hours: Wednesday–Monday, 10am–3:15pm

Port Orford Lifeboat Station

            View this post on Instagram                         A post shared by Joy Leighanne (@thejoybear) on Jul 27, 2017 at 5:43pm PDT

The 300-foot-tall headland of Port Orford Heads hosted the dwellings and offices of the Port Orford Lifeboat Station from 1934 to 1970. The station was one of nine year-round lifeboat operations on the Oregon coast.

The Port Orford Lifeboat Station kept their lifeboats down in Nellie’s Cove, accessible via a long, narrow staircase that you can still see today. The self-righting lifeboats were designed to handle any conditions at sea in the process of rescuing crews, assisting vessels in distress, and salvaging cargo.

You’ll find a fascinating history of the operation’s efforts when you visit the Port Orford Lifeboat Station. They were particularly active during World War II, and managed to rescue survivors from an American tanker that was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine.

Today, the barracks building serves a small museum. You can tour the other buildings in the complex, and there’s a restored lifeboat on display. You’ll also enjoy magnificent views of the surrounding area, especially from the old Port Orford Lookout Tower Site.

After parking at Port Orford Heads State Park , the best way to explore the area is on the Port Orford Heads Loop Hike . The short, 1.2-mile loop takes you through the Port Orford Lifeboat Station and serves up plenty of picturesque viewpoints.

Pelican Bay Lighthouse

pelican bay lighthouse

The second of Oregon’s two privately operated lighthouses, the Pelican Bay Lighthouse sits on a bluff above Brookings Harbor near the mouth of the Chetco River. The light was commissioned by the Coast Guard in 1999 and represents one of the newest lighthouses in the entire country.

The Pelican Bay Lighthouse features an acrylic Fresnel lens that’s visible up to 12 miles out to sea. It’s the southernmost lighthouse in Oregon, and one of seven that’s still in operation.

As this is a private lighthouse, don’t expect a museum or private tours. You can view the Pelican Bay Lighthouse up close from the harbor below, or across the harbor from Chetco Point. We prefer the latter viewpoint, as the the Chetco Point Hike also offers beautiful views of Table Rock, Mill Beach, Zwagg island.

  • Built: 1999
  • Best Time to Visit: Anytime

More resources to plan your Oregon coast adventure

Looking for more activities to complete your Oregon coast vacation? Check out our favorite Oregon Coast Hikes , and the top 12 Places to Visit on the Oregon Coast .

For recommendations on where to set up your base camp on the Oregon coast, see our articles on the Best Treehouse Rentals in Oregon , the Best Oregon Coast Cabin Rentals , and the Best Oregon Coast Vacation Rentals .

Seen in: Oregon , West

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Posted by Mac Misseldine

Mac is a digital marketer and freelance writer based in Pleasant Grove, Utah. He enjoys exploring the countless trails that the Beehive State has to offer, though his favorite outdoor adventures involve a snowboard and fresh powder.

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Coastal charms: oregon’s 11 most majestic lighthouses.

oregon lighthouses

Ready for an adventure? Tour some of Oregon's most iconic lighthouses for a unique experience! Discover their history and explore stunning Pacific Ocean views along the way. We already know the Oregon Coast is one of the best places to visit in the Beaver State, and if you're going to visit anytime soon you'll definitely want to check out the incredible lighthouses — in all, there's a total of eleven  Oregon coast lighthouses .

Many of these have been restored, and offer a look back into Oregon's past. Two of them, Cleft of the Rock Lighthouse and Pelican Bay Lighthouse, were created by lighthouse enthusiasts.

What lighthouses are on the Oregon coast?

There are several lighthouses located on the Oregon coast, each with its own unique history and architectural features.

Many of these lighthouses are open to the public and offer guided tours during the summer months. Each lighthouse offers its own unique history and architectural features, making them a popular destination for visitors looking to explore the natural beauty and rich history of the Oregon coast. The lighthouses in Oregon are as follows in this article.

Tillamook Rock Lighthouse

Terrible Tilly

The Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, is also known as "Terrible Tilly," due to erratic weather conditions and the dangerous commute for keepers and suppliers. Listed on the  National Register of Historic Places  (NRHP) in 1981. Tillamook Rock is not among scenic lighthouses open to the public but is one of the most scenic Oregon lighthouses out there.

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The construction of the lighthouse began in 1878 and was completed in 1881. The location was chosen because of the high number of shipwrecks that occurred in the area due to the rocks and rough waters. The lighthouse stands at 133 feet tall and was built to withstand the extreme weather conditions, including strong winds and powerful waves. The construction of the lighthouse was no easy feat, as the rugged terrain and remote location made it a challenging project.

The first keepers of the lighthouse were tasked with keeping the light burning 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to ensure that ships could safely navigate the treacherous waters off the Oregon coast. They also had to maintain the lighthouse, keep it clean, and ensure that it was always in good working order.

Throughout the years, the lighthouse faced many challenges. In 1934, a massive storm struck the area, causing significant damage to the lighthouse. The storm caused a 30-foot wave to crash into the lighthouse, damaging the lantern room and destroying the glass panels. The lighthouse keepers were forced to use a makeshift lamp to guide ships until the repairs were completed.

During World War II, the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse was temporarily used as a lookout post to watch for enemy ships. After the war, the lighthouse was automated, and the need for keepers was eliminated. The automation of the lighthouse meant that it no longer required constant maintenance and care from keepers.

In 1957, the lighthouse was decommissioned and replaced by a buoy that could withstand the harsh weather conditions. The lighthouse remained abandoned for many years, and it was vandalized and left to deteriorate.

In the 1980s, the lighthouse was purchased by a private owner who had plans to turn it into a bed and breakfast. The owner spent millions of dollars renovating the lighthouse, but the business venture was unsuccessful due to the lighthouse's remote location and harsh conditions. The lighthouse was eventually sold to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, which has maintained the lighthouse and at one point opened it for public tours.

Reported in March of 2022 by OPB, Terrible Tilly was up for sale , listed at $6.5 million by owner Mimi Morisette.

Cape Meares Lighthouse

cape meares light

The Cape Meares Lighthouse is a historic lighthouse located on the Oregon coast near the town of Tillamook. Built in 1889, the lighthouse was originally designed to guide ships through the dangerous waters surrounding Tillamook Rock, which had become notorious for shipwrecks.

The lighthouse stands only 38 feet tall and is unique in that it was constructed with bricks rather than the typical stone used for lighthouses of the time. Its octagonal shape is another distinctive feature that sets it apart from other lighthouses in the region.

The Cape Meares Lighthouse remained in operation until 1963, when it was automated. It is now a popular tourist attraction, offering visitors the opportunity to climb to the top of the former lighthouse tower and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding coastline and the Pacific Ocean.

In addition to its historical significance, the Cape Meares Lighthouse is known for its rich wildlife. Visitors can often spot various species of birds, seals, and even whales from the vantage point of the lighthouse.

The lighthouse is open to the public and offers guided tours during the summer months. The surrounding area also features hiking trails and picnic areas, making it a popular destination for visitors looking to enjoy the natural beauty of the Oregon coast. Whether you are a history buff, a nature lover, or simply looking for a unique experience, a visit to the Cape Meares Lighthouse is well worth the trip.

Directions:  Cape Meares is located on the Three Capes Scenic Loop north of the village of Oceanside and approximately 10 miles west of Tillamook. From Highway 101 in Tillamook follow signs to Cape Meares. There is no charge to see the park or the lighthouse.

Yaquina Head Lighthouse

Yaquina Head Light

Located on a headland just north of Newport, this lighthouse was listed on NRHP in 1993. Yaquina Head 93 feet high, and is the tallest lighthouse in Oregon and also the 2nd lighthouse built in the Newport area.

You can take a tour here from 12 to 4 p.m. Built in 1872, Yaquina Head Lighthouse stands 93 feet high, making it the tallest lighthouse along the Oregon Coast. Take a guided tour to explore its rich history, ranging from its construction in 1872 to the machinery upgrade that still runs today. Guests can enjoy stunning views of the Pacific Ocean while admiring this majestic feat of architecture.

The construction of the lighthouse was a challenging task due to the rocky terrain and difficult weather conditions in the area. The structure was built using locally quarried stone, and the lantern room was imported from France.

The lighthouse was first lit on August 20, 1873, and its light could be seen for up to 19 miles (30 km) out to sea. The lighthouse played an important role in helping ships navigate the treacherous waters of the Pacific Northwest.

Over the years, the lighthouse underwent various upgrades and renovations to improve its effectiveness. In 1938, the original kerosene lamp was replaced with an electric light, and the lighthouse was automated in 1966.

Today, Yaquina Head Lighthouse is a popular tourist attraction and is open to the public for tours. Visitors can climb to the top of the lighthouse for panoramic views of the surrounding area, including the Pacific Ocean, the coastline, and nearby national wildlife refuge there. The lighthouse is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a designated Oregon State Park.

Directions:  Yaquina Head is located about 3 miles north of Newport in the Agate Beach area. Turn at the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area and continue about a mile to the lighthouse.

Yaquina Bay Lighthouse

yaquina bay lighthouse

Located at Yaquina Bay State Recreation Site south of Yaquina Head Light, deactivated in 1874 due to the new Yaquina Head Light, added to NRHP in 1970, re-lit in 1996 using a lens provided by lighthouse historian James A. Gibbs.

Directions: Turn right off Highway 101 regardless of which direction you are heading. Yaquina Bay Lighthouse is at the northern end of the bridge just to the west. Follow signs to Yaquina Bay State Recreation Site. There is no fee here, although they do accept donations. Private tours take place outside of normal operating hours and are $20 for one, $10 each for two to four. Call 541-574-3129 to arrange a tour.

Heceta Head Lighthouse

heceta head light

The Heceta Head Light is the brightest light on the Oregon Coast, visible 21 miles (34 km) out to sea, named for Spanish explorer Bruno de Heceta, added to NRHP in 1978, now part of a state park. This Oregon lighthouse is said to be one of the most photographed on the coast. The Heceta Head Lighthouse was first illuminated in 1894, with the light atop the 56-foot tower.

Directions:  Off Highway 101 about 12 miles north of Florence. Turn at Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint and park at Devil's Elbow Beach, walk up a trail to the lighthouse, and then continue on about a quarter-mile to the lighthouse.

Visitors will not need a day use pass to see the lighthouse, however, a day use pass is required to park in the parking area. Day use passes are not a pass to see the lighthouse. If you are not camping and don't have an annual pass, you will need to purchase a daily parking pass for $5 per vehicle. The pass is good to park an entire day and is good to visit any state park in Oregon.

Pelican Bay Lighthouse

pelican bay

The  Pelican Bay Light  (or  Port of Brookings Light ) is a small, privately owned lighthouse in Brookings, Oregon, United States. It overlooks the Port of Brookings Harbor and the mouth of the Chetco River.

The house was built as an addition to an existing home, and Pelican Bay Light is maintained by the Cady family of Brookings, Oregon. First lit in 1999, this lighthouse stands 141 feet above sea level and can be viewed from Brookings Harbor.

Cady family members Bill and JoAnn Cady constructed the Pelican Bay Lighthouse as a private residence. Because this Oregon lighthouse is both a home and a functioning lighthouse, it is not open to the public, but it can be viewed from Highway 101.

Cleft Of The Rock Lighthouse

cleft of the rock

Private aid to navigation, this wooden lighthouse sits about a mile south of Yachats, Oregon . The lighthouse was built by James A. Gibbs in 1976, who is a former U.S. Coast Guardsman, lighthouse keeper, and noted author and historian.

The Cleft Of The Rock Light is not open to the public. Built around 30 years ago, the home's entrance is the rotunda of the lighthouse. The home is filled with photos and historic artifacts of Northwest lighthouses. The original layout was planned as not just a lighthouse but a home as well, and was finished in 1976. Interestingly, it was based on the plans for a Canadian lighthouse, Vancouver Island's Fiddle Reef Light.

Directions: While it is closed to the public, visitors can see the home from Milepost 166 on Highway 101, about a mile and a half south of Yachats.

Related: Yachats, Oregon – “The Gem of the Oregon Coast” Travel Guide

Umpqua River Lighthouse

umpqua river lighthouse

Located at the mouth of Winchester Bay, Oregon, the first Umpqua River Lighthouse near the town of Reedsport, this magnificent lighthouse was built in 1855 and lit in 1857. Built along the river channel, the original light was vulnerable to seasonal flooding.

This led to yearly erosion of the sand embankment of the light. In October 1863, the building's foundations had become too unstable and the structure soon collapsed. Before its collapse, the Light House Board had foreseen the need to build a new light at the location. However, it was 1888 before Congress approved of the construction of a new light.

The Umpqua River Lighthouse stands at 65 feet tall and features a distinctive red and white striped tower. The tower is equipped with a first-order Fresnel lens, which was once powered by a hand-cranked clockwork mechanism. The lighthouse also features a keeper's quarters, which now serves as a museum that showcases the history of the Umpqua River Lighthouse and the surrounding area.

The lighthouse was originally built to aid ships navigating the treacherous Umpqua River bar, which was known for its dangerous currents and shifting sands. Over the years, the lighthouse played a crucial role in ensuring the safe passage of ships through the bar and up the river to the nearby town of Gardiner.

Tours of the lighthouse are given daily year-round. For winter tours, call for an appointment 541-271-4631. Hit the link  here  for more information on pricing and tours.

Directions:  Umpqua River Lighthouse is located on Umpqua Lighthouse Loop out of Winchester Bay. About a mile out of Winchester Bay, watch for signs for when to turn uphill to the lighthouse, state park, and onto Highway 101.

Cape Arago Lighthouse

cape arago light

The  Cape Arago Light  (formerly known as  Cape Gregory Light ) is a lighthouse located in Charleston, Oregon. It is located 2.6 miles (4.2 km) north of Cape Arago.

Starting in the mid-19th century, Coos Bay had become an important shipping point on the west coast of the United States. The amount of shipping at the time warranted the building of a light at the location, and in 1864, funds were given to build the harbor's light. In 1866, the first light was illuminated. This first tower, which housed a fourth-order Fresnel lens, was nothing more than a 25-foot (7.6 m) octagonal tower with a skeleton base. This tower, located on the west end of an island, was connected to keeper's residence via a 1,300-foot (400 m) wooden walkway. However, because of its location on the island, the light was greatly exposed to the elements along the Pacific and soon was in need of repairs. Over the next 35 years, much of the station's infrastructure had to be repaired or replaced. Several improvements were also made during this time, including the installation of a fog signal and a new boathouse.

Directions:  Cape Arago Lighthouse is located about 4 miles south of Charleston between Sunset Bay and Shore Acres state parks. Follow signs to the state parks.

Coquille River Lighthouse

Stephanie Sarles / Flickr

Coquille River Light  (formerly known as  Bandon Light ) is a lighthouse located near  Bandon, Oregon . It is currently maintained by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department as a part of Bullards Beach State Park. Bandon is easily one of the most popular and beautiful places you can visit on the Oregon Coast.

Originally named  Bandon Light , Coquille River Light was commissioned in 1895. First lit on February 29, 1896, the light guided mariners past the dangerous shifting sandbars into the Coquille River and harbor at Bandon. The light contained a fourth-order Fresnel lens and was connected to the nearby keeper's house by a wooden walkway. In September 1936, a large wildfire swept through the surrounding area, and destroyed most of Bandon. The town soon became bankrupt as a result of the decline in shipping. Coquille Light was shut down in 1939 and replaced by an automated light on the south jetty.

The signal room is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily from mid-May through September. It's staffed with volunteers who interpret the history of the area. For safety concerns, the tower is closed to the public. You can call 541-347-2209 for more information on visiting.

Directions:  Within Bullards Beach State Park. Turn at the state park sign about 2 miles north of Bandon. Follow signs to the lighthouse.

READ MORE:  Add Charming Bandon, Oregon to Your Travel List

Cape Blanco Lighthouse

lighthouses in oregon

The oldest lighthouse in the Oregon, built in 1870, Cape Blanco Lighthouse sits atop wind-swept bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. These bluffs, the western-most point of land in Oregon, provide an unparalleled opportunity to watch California gray whales and other marine mammals. The site's proximity to the Cape Blanco State Park provides visitors with camping, hiking, and beachcombing opportunities in addition to a lighthouse visit.

The Cape Blanco Lighthouse sits 256 feet above sea level and provides a beautiful beachfront view and whale watching. The lighthouse was built by the British government in 1869 and is currently the oldest lighthouse of its kind in the United States.

Both the lighthouse and house have tours on the same schedule, April through October, Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The fee is just $3 per vehicle.

Directions:  The turnoff to Cape Blanco State Park is about a mile south of the Sixes River and 4-1/2 miles north of Port Orford. Follow the road a few miles to Hughes House and continue on to the Lighthouse a couple of miles farther.

Are the lighthouses in Oregon open to the public?

Of the 11 Oregon lighthouses on the coast, seven of them are open to the public and most are still active. Two of the lighthouses are privately owned, which are both certified by the U.S. Coast Guard as official private aids to navigation.

Have you visited any of these Oregon lighthouses recently? Which one is your favorite?

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HECETA HEAD LIGHTHOUSE

Situated high above the Pacific Ocean on the rugged Heceta Head outcropping is one of the most popular and inspirational sites on the Oregon Coast; and it is only about 10 scenic miles north of Florence. It is a must-see among must-sees here in Oregon’s Coastal Playground.

Heceta Head Lightstation [say “Ha (or Huh) – SEE – Tah” to sound like a local] is one of the most beautiful, and thus one of the most photographed, lighthouses in the world.

The Heceta Head Lighthouse and Queen Ann style Light Keeper’s home, circa 1894, are both are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Free tours are available of both. The home is now a highly-rated bed-and-breakfast with antique furnishings and an indulgent seven-course breakfast of locally- and regionally-sourced delicacies.

Since March 30, 1894, from its perch 205 feet above the ocean, this 56-foot-tall working lighthouse has cast its beam more than 20 miles out to sea, making it the brightest light on the Oregon coast.

Throughout its intriguing and colorful past, the lighthouse watched over many attending families, safely guided passing personal, commercial, and military vessels, oversaw the construction of Highway 101, hosted a WWII military outpost and Lane Community College’s satellite campus, and blessed many a wedding ceremony.

The lighthouse underwent a major, and historically accurate, restoration between 2011 and 2013.

The leisurely walk to the lighthouse is a quarter-mile uphill from the inn, which itself is a quarter mile from the public parking area. There is an interpretive center and gift shop with books, souvenirs, and other themed items as you begin the walk from the inn to the lighthouse.

Heceta Head Lighthouse is 13 miles north of Florence at Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint, (formerly Devil’s Elbow State Park). Day use parking is $5 or is covered by a $35 Oregon Coast Passport permit available at state parks.

For more information on Heceta Head Lightstation visit  www.hecetalighthouse.com  or call 866-547-3696.

Victorian Christmas Open House

December 7th & 8th and 14th & 15th, from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Come one, come all to the 24th Annual Victorian Christmas Open House at the Heceta Head Assistant Lighthouse Keeper’s House. Enjoy the beautifully decorated house while listening to local musicians play holiday favorites. Warm drinks, goodies and even Santa Claus will be there! Heceta Lighthouse Gift shop will also be open for last minute gifts.

Parking is $5 or free with current Oregon State Park Pass. Shuttle service from the state park below will be available. The State Park will open the historical lighthouse as well, so bring your flashlight and rain jacket, just in case.

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  • The Best Oregon Coast Road Trip Itinerary

T he Oregon coast is a mistress as fickle as the sea herself. Sunny and bright one day, dark and moody the next, with a beautifully rugged shoreline you won’t want to take your eyes off. This is one of Oregon’s Seven Wonders.

Having grown up in Oregon, I’ve made many trips along the coast over the years. And I’m going to share with you some of the best spots I’ve found along the way.

This Oregon Coast road trip itinerary will take you from north to south, along Highway 101, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway . Spend a week or two on Oregon’s coast, and I’m sure you’ll fall in love with it as much as I have.

Disclosure :  This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small fee from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you.

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Transportation

Now if you’re flying into Portland to begin your Oregon coast road trip, you’ll need to pick up a rental car. You may also want to rent a car if you’re local and don’t want to put the miles on your own vehicle, or you just want something more reliable. Click below to explore rental car options in Portland.

Click here to reserve a car through Rentalcars.com

A note about this Oregon coast road trip before we delve into it. I like my itineraries loose, with plenty of wiggle room for spontaneity. So you won’t find a rigid schedule here, broken down by day and time.

Instead, I offer you a framework you can tailor to make your own. I’ve included the main highlights and attractions in each town, where to eat and sleep, and how long you’ll want to plan to spend in each town. So there are several ways you can adapt this itinerary.

One option, if you’re leaving from Portland, is to drive north to Astoria to start. Then drive slowly south along Highway 101, stopping in each town as you go. Lastly, return to Portland along a faster route, on I-5.

Option two also begins and ends in Portland. However, instead of returning along I-5, you’d leapfrog down the coast, hitting every other town (starting in Astoria again). For the return trip, drive back along Highway 101 again, but visit all the cities you missed the first time around.

And then there’s option three. Work this Oregon Coast road trip into your journey towards another destination. For example, we worked this road trip into our drive to the Redwoods. (Portland and San Francisco are the two closest airports and are about an equal drive to the Redwoods.)

Or, you could also work it in if you were driving from California to Portland or Seattle. But enough about the route. Let’s talk about what you really came here for. The stops on this amazing Oregon Coast road trip itinerary!

Begin your Oregon coast road trip in Astoria . This small town sits at the mouth of the Columbia River. About a two hour drive from Portland, it’s the northern most city in Oregon on the 101.

Astoria has a few claims to fame, and even a great hidden gem. So you’ll want to plan to spend a full day here to experience all the town has to offer.

One thing Astoria is known for is the Astoria-Megler Bridge . At four miles in length, this is the longest truss bridge on the continent.

This impressive bridge spans the width of the Columbia River. So while you’re here, take a drive across the bridge, from Oregon into Washington!

Another landmark Astoria is well known for is Fort Clatsop , where the Lewis and Clark Expedition over-wintered from 1805 to 1806. Spend a couple of hours in this national historical park, watching historical re-enactments and learning about our country’s early days.

Then later that evening, discover Astoria’s secret underground world. Walk the Shanghai tunnels and learn about this coastal town’s history during a one-hour Astoria Underground Tour.

Highlights and attractions : Fort Clatsop, Astoria-Megler Bridge, Astoria underground tour, Astoria column

Where to eat : Broder Strand

Where to stay : Bowline Hotel

Click here to check for availability at the Bowline Hotel

Fort Stevens State Park

Fort Stevens is a military fortress turned state park. Located just outside Warrenton, it sits 20 minutes west of Astoria, or 20 minutes north of Seaside.

Visiting Fort Stevens is sure to be full of adventure, mystery, and intrigue. And if you love exploring abandoned buildings, this is the place to come. Here, it’s not only allowed, but encouraged!

These old concrete buildings served in defense of our country from the Civil War through World War II.

This state park offers camping of all sorts, restrooms, bike trails, military displays, and so much more. There’s even beach access and a shipwreck from 1906 you can explore!

The park is open year round; plan to spend a half day to a full day here, depending on how much you want to explore.

Just take caution not to cross anything chained or gated off, and watch your step. Some areas may be decaying, have holes or drop offs in the floor, or be otherwise unsafe.

TIP: Be sure to bring a flashlight or head lamp!

Highlights and attractions: Peter Iredale shipwreck, Battery Russel and Battery Pratt

The next coastal town on the itinerary is Seaside . Seaside has more of a tourist draw than other coastal towns. That may have something to do with its carnival-fun, classic boardwalk atmosphere.

From bumper cars and wacky mirrors, to carnival games and an arcade, Seaside is sure to put a smile on your face. There’s endless fun things to do here.

See the town from a tandem bike, surrey, or paddle boat. Then eat lunch at the Pronto Pup, and later, buy some salt water taffy from The Candyman.

Wander along the Seaside Promenade , and watch a sandcastle artist at work. Then stop in at the Seaside Aquarium , one of the oldest aquariums on the Pacific Coast.

You’ll definitely want to plan for a full day in Seaside to take in all this town has to offer.

Highlights and attractions: Seaside Aquarium, Seaside Inverted Experience , Wheel Fun Rentals , High Life Adventure Park Ariel Challenge , Captain Kid Amusement Park

Where to eat: Norma’s Seafood & Steak, Pronto Pup, Pig n Pancake

Where to stay: Best Western Plus Oceanview or the SaltLine Hotel

Click here to check for availability at the SaltLine Hotel

Click here to check for availability at the Best Western Plus Oceanview

Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach is just a short 5 to 10 minute drive from Seaside. But it couldn’t be more different in its atmosphere and appeal.

It tends to be a go-to spot for many Portlanders. The town gets especially crowded during the summer months, but is much quieter the rest of the year.

One of the town’s biggest draws is its iconic coastline. This picturesque stretch of beach has been featured in multiple films and is home to the Haystack Rock from The Goonies .

The closest beach access to get an up-close view of Haystack Rock is near the restaurant The Wayfarer. Locals also love visiting both Tolovana Park and Ecola State Park for beach access.

Ecola State Park is great for hiking, and from the right vantage point you can see the lighthouse Terrible Tilly off in the distance. Plus, Indian Beach is found within this state park, and is a popular location for surfing.

You can probably get away with spending a half day in Cannon Beach. Unless you plan to hike or surf. Then plan for a full day here.

Highlights and attractions : Haystack Rock, Ecola State Park, Indian Beach

Where to eat: The Wayfarer, Insomnia Coffee, Mo’s, Pelican Pub

Where to stay: Hallmark Resort & Spa Cannon Beach

Click here to check for availability at Hallmark Resort & Spa Cannon Beach

Rockaway Beach

Rockaway Beach , Oregon, is about a 35 to 40 minute drive south of Cannon Beach. This small coastal town may be easy to overlook, at first glance. Especially when compared to some of Oregon’s other coastal towns.

It’s got a couple gems that really make it worth the stop, though. For starters, the coastline here is particularly interesting. Three rock formations worth checking out here are the iconic Twin Rocks , the Three Graces , and the Devil’s Cauldron (just north of town).

A ride along the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad from here will give you great views of much of this picturesque stretch of coastline.

Plus, Rockaway Beach is home to the original Pronto Pup ! (A pronto pup is basically a corn dog, except it’s more savory, whereas corn dogs tend to be more sweet.)

If you stop in Rockaway Beach, you’ll want to spend about a half day to a full day here. With its stunning ocean views, you’ll be glad you added it to your Oregon Coast itinerary.

Highlights and attractions: Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad, the original Pronto Pup, Twin Rocks, Devil’s Cauldron

Where to eat: Pronto Pup, Old Oregon Smokehouse

Where to stay: Surfside Resort

Click here to check for availability at the Surfside Resort

Continuing another 25 minutes down Highway 101 will take you next to Tillamook. And if you love cheese, then Tillamook should be on your bucket list, because one of the biggest attractions in here is the Tillamook Cheese Factory .

The Tillamook County Creamery Association produces national- and international-award-winning cheeses, many of which you can sample or purchase at the Tillamook Cheese Factory Visitors’ Center. Just be aware, once you try their cheese, you’ll be hooked!

Plus, this is the only place you can purchase Tillamook cheese curds (referred to as “squeaky cheese” by the locals) to take home with you. And that alone makes Tillamook worth the visit.

But the Tillamook Cheese Factory visitors’ center also offers dining options and Tillamook ice cream. And their ice cream is easily as good as their cheese! And you can watch and learn all about the cheese making process.

Aside form the Tillamook Cheese Factory, there’s plenty of other things to see and do here. Visit the Cape Meares Lighthouse , a short, squat little thing. And while you’re there, discover the “ Octopus Tree ,” an ancient Sitka spruce with multiple main trunks.

Have some wine to go with your cheese at the Blue Heron French Cheese Company . Then visit the Tillamook Air Museum or the County Pioneer Museum . Overall, you’ll want to plan to spend a half day to a full day in Tillamook.

Highlights and attractions : Cape Meares Lighthouse, Octopus Tree, Tillamook Cheese Factory

Where to eat: The Schooner

Where to stay: Shilo Inn Suites

Click here to check for availability at Shilo Inn Suites

Pacific City

About a 30 minute drive south of Tillamook, Pacific City is a smaller coastal town. And it’s a bit off the beaten path, compared to some of the other cities in this Oregon Coast road trip.

Small as it is, it’s still worth a stop though. And one of the best things to do in Pacific City is to explore Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area .

Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, including an up close view of Haystack rock . And it’s a popular location for surfing and exploring tide pools.

Pacific City is also a great spot for plenty of other outdoor adventures. You can try your hand at clamming or fishing, kayaking or horseback riding, or even hang gliding!

You’ll want to plan to spend about a half day to a full day here. But whatever you plan to do with your time here, you’ll be glad you added Pacific City to your itinerary!

Highlights and attractions: Haystack rock, Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area

Where to eat: Pelican Brewing, Ben & Jeff’s Burgers and Tacos, Stimulus Coffee

Where to stay: Headlands Coastal Lodge and Spa

Click here to check availability for the Headlands Coastal Lodge and Spa

Neskowin Ghost Forest

Add this short stop into your Oregon Coast road trip itinerary! Neskowin is about half way-ish between Pacific City and Lincoln City. Fun side note: Neskowin means “plenty fish.”

Visiting the Neskowin ghost forest is an incredibly unique experience. These 2,000 year old Sitka spruce trees once stood tall and proud, until one day (as the theory goes), they were swallowed by an earthquake or tsunami.

Over the hundreds of years since, the ocean has held them secret, preserved them, and morphed them into the barnacle-covered stumps you see today–merely apparitions and whispers of the trees they once were.

You won’t need more than a half day here; maybe even a few hours may be enough. But it’s the timing of your visit to Neskowin that’s most critical.

It’s best visited at low tide. And even better yet is if that low tide occurs in the morning, before the fog has worn off for the day. The effect is absolutely haunting.

Another amazing time to visit Neskowin is during a super low tide. However, that only happens three or four weekends per year, during the summer months.

Important Note: I cannot recommend visiting Neskowin without saying this. Neskowin is a unique, dearly loved and cherished place. I’ve heard from Neskowin locals that visitors during the super low tides have left this stunning coastline trashed.

Please, if you decide to visit, treat this place with respect and practice the principals of “Leave no Trace.” Take out what you take in. Let’s leave it as beautiful as we can for those who follow after us, and for generations to come.

Where to stay: Proposal Rock Inn

Lincoln City

Continue another 20 minutes down Highway 101 to Lincoln City, a town sprawled long against the coastline. In fact, Lincoln City has more miles of beach than any other Oregon coastal town.

Lincoln City is well known for its “ Finders Keepers” scavenger hunt . On certain dates through out the year, you can scour Lincoln City’s beaches for these beautiful, handcrafted glass orbs.

And if you find one, you get to keep it! It’s worth checking the Finders Keepers release dates to see if you can line your Oregon Coast road trip up with one of their events. ( Check dates here .)

Lincoln City also has a great outlet mall that’s popular with many local Oregonians. Some of the notable brands you’ll find here include Pendleton, Nike, and Columbia, all proud PNW brands.

One other thing I highly recommend while in Lincoln City is to hike Driftcreek Falls . You’ll find this hike about 40 minutes inland from Lincoln City.

The moderately difficult 3.2-mile hike leads you to a 240’ long suspension footbridge (the longest in Oregon!), and to a stunning, 66’ tall waterfall.

Between seven miles of beaches, adventurous scavenger hunts, and a stunning waterfall, you’ll be glad you included Lincoln City in your Oregon Coast road trip itinerary.

All in all, you’ll want to plan to spend a half day to a full day in Lincoln City.

Highlights and attractions: Finders Keepers glass floats, shopping at the outlet mall, Driftcreek Falls

Where to eat: Kyllo’s Seafood & Grill, Hearth & Table, Mo’s, McMenamin’s, Pig ‘n Pancake

Where to stay: Inn at Spanish Head Resort or the Coho Oceanfront Lodge

Click here to check for availability at the Inn at Spanish Head Resort

Click here to check for availability at the Coho Oceanfront Lodge

Another 20 minutes south is the small town of Depoe Bay. Blink and you’ll have driven past it. However, there’s still plenty to do, packed into this little place.

For starters, this coastal town is home to the world’s smallest bay . This little harbor is a great place to explore, catch a beautiful view of the Depot Bay Bridge, and watch the seals swim and play.

The harbor is also where you’ll embark from for whale watching tours. Depoe Bay is one of the best places to go whale watching in Oregon , and there are several charter companies available to book tours from.

However, if you’d rather not go out on a boat, you’re also likely to spot whales, watching from the sea wall or the Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay. The peak months to see whales in Depoe Bay tend to be May through August. Although, you may also have luck in December through February, and again mid March through May.

Depoe Bay is also a popular location to watch the monthly King Tides in the winter, from November through February. If you plan your visit to coincide with the King Tides, just be cautious to watch for sneaker waves, especially if the weather is stormy!

There are also a few shops along the waterfront, where you can buy salt water taffy or ice cream, and souvenirs. All in all, a half day is probably adequate time to experience Depoe Bay.

Highlights and attractions: World’s smallest bay, whale watching tours

Where to eat: The Horn Public House, Gracie’s Sea Hag

Keep driving another 20 minutes south and you’ll come upon Newport, one of the larger coastal towns in Oregon. Newport has a lot to offer, and with so many things to do here, you’ll want to plan to spend a full day here.

One of the best things to do in Newport is to visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium . This aquarium is the largest on the Oregon Coast, rated one of the top 10 in the US, and was once home to Keiko, the killer whale .

Keiko’s former tank has since been transformed into Passages of the Deep, my favorite habitat at the aquarium. A tunnel leads you through the middle of this habitat, as sharks and other undersea creatures swim over your head. The effect is absolutely magical.

You can also visit two different lighthouses nearby. The Yaquina Bay Lighthouse is just minutes from the aquarium, and the Yaquina Head Lighthouse is just a few minutes north of town.

And while you’re visiting the Yaquina Head Lighthouse, take a few extra minutes to check out the nearby Devil’s Punchbowl , a stunning rock formation just 10 minutes north.

Then spend some time wandering the Historic Bayfront and the Nye Beach areas. Both these locations have great shopping and dining options.

Highlights and attractions: Oregon Coast Aquarium, Ripley’s Believe it or not Wax Museum, Yaquina Head Lighthouse, Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, Devil’s Punchbowl

Where to eat: The Chowder Bowl, Rogue Brewery, Georgie’s, Mo’s

Where to stay: Embarcadero Resort

Click here to check availability at the Embarcadero Resort

About an hour and ten minutes south of Newport is Florence, Oregon. Florence sits on the coast, at the mouth of the Siuslaw River, near the Oregon Dunes. You’ll want to plan to spend a half day to a full day here.

One of my favorite places in Florence is the Heceta Head Lighthouse. This classic lighthouse sits against a dramatic background, perched atop a cliff overlooking the Pacific ocean.

The small beach directly below the lighthouse is magical, strewn with tiny sea shells. (The no-collect status of this beach partially accounts for why there are so many shells here!)

Take a hike from the lighthouse to a hidden beach. This 3.6 mile out-and-back trail takes about two hours to hike, and leads you to Hobbit Beach .

Later, visit the Sea Lion Caves , just 11 miles north of town. As tall as a 12-story building and as long as a football field, this is the largest sea cave in the U.S.! And you’re sure to see plenty of wildlife here.

If you’re looking for a little more adventure, then try renting an ATV or dune buggy to explore the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area . Or go horseback riding on the beach with C&M Stables.

Highlights and attractions : Heceta Head Lighthouse, Sea Lion Caves, Oregon Dune National Recreation Area

Where to eat: Bridgewater Fish House and Zebra Bar, 1285 Restobar

Where to stay: The Heceta Head Lighthouse Keepers House Bed and Breakfast

Click here to check for availability at the Heceta Head Lighthouse Keepers House B&B

The next stop on this Oregon Coast road trip is Coos Bay. Coos Bay is about an hour south of Florence, and you’ll want to plan to spend about a half day to a full day here.

Coos Bay is another excellent area to access the Oregon dunes from. At a total of 40 miles of recreational space, it’s the largest stretch of coastal sand dunes on the continent!

A few of the campgrounds in the area with dunes access include Spinreel, Horsfall, and Riley Ranch. You can rent ATVs and dune buggies in Coos Bay, or try the latest rage—sandboarding!

Later, enjoy some fish and chips at The Boat, one of my favorite restaurants in town. And afterwards, visit the Oregon Coast Historical Railway right next door. This outdoor museum has real vintage trains you can climb aboard and explore.

Another great thing to do in Coos Bay is to visit the lighthouse. Cape Arago Lighthouse is just 20 minutes west of Coos Bay.

This lighthouse sits on a small island off the coast, and isn’t open to the public. However, you can catch a great view of this beautiful beacon from Lighthouse Beach .

Highlights and attractions: Oregon dunes, Oregon Coast Historic Railway, Cape Arago Lighthouse

Where to eat: The Boat, 7 Devil’s Brewing

Where to stay: The Mill Casino Inn

Click here to check for availability at the Mill Casino Inn

Thirty minutes further south is Bandon, and you’ll want to plan for a half to a full day to spend here.

Bandon is home to Oregon’s third Haystack rock. However, this haystack rock doesn’t stand alone, like the other two. It’s part of a larger grouping of monoliths, or giant rocks, standing out in the ocean.

Called the Bandon Needles , these rock formations cover a three mile stretch of Bandon’s coastline. And they are breathtaking.

Two of the best places to reach Bandon’s beaches and to view the Bandon Needles are Coquille Point and Devil’s Kitchen . At Coquille Point, a stunning staircase leads down to the sand. But Devil’s Kitchen, with its twisted tree branches, has more ample parking, restrooms, and picnic tables.

Once you get down to the beach, pause to take in the cliff side that overlooks it. Countless beach houses line the cliff top. And in the spring time, the cliffs are dotted in a vibrant yellow of blooming scotch broom.

After admiring the Bandon Needles, visit the Coquille River Lighthouse , just minutes away. Although no longer open to the public, this lighthouse’s white and red coat create a striking image against the coastline you won’t want to miss.

Wrap up your stay in Bandon by checking out the Washed Ashore Gallery . These colorful art sculptures were created from trash collected from our oceans and beaches.

While studying the art, get inspired and learn how we can be better stewards of our land. I like to play a game of “I spy” when studying these sculptures. You’ll be surprised at some of the things they found littering the ocean! This really is “art to save the sea.”

Highlights and attractions: Coquille River Lighthouse, Washed Ashore Gallery, Haystack rock/Bandon Needles, Devil’s Kitchen

Where to Eat: The Loft Restaurant and Bar, The Wheelhouse & Crowsnest

Where to Stay: Best Western Inn at Face Rock

Click here to check for availability at Best Western Inn at Face Rock

Port Orford

Port Orford is another 30 minutes south of Bandon, and you’ll want to plan to spend about a half day to a full day here. This coastal town will offer you breathtaking hikes and picturesque ocean views.

One of the top things to do in Port Orford is to visit the Cape Blanco Lighthouse , Oregon’s western most lighthouse. It makes a stunning silhouette against the horizon, perched atop white cliffs.

There are also several great hiking trails at Cape Blanco. The Pacific View Trail is only a mile long, fairly easy, and has beautiful views. Another short and easy hike is the Cape Blanco North Shore Trail.

Other places you’ll find good trails in Port Orford include Battle Rock Wayside Park , Humbug Mountain State Park , and Sisters Rock State Park . But here’s my personal favorite thing to do in Port Orford…

For anyone traveling with kids, or for the people who are still kids at heart, stop by the Prehistoric Gardens just 15 minutes south of town. This fun roadside attraction was founded in 1955 by an amateur paleontologist.

We visited this dinosaur park when I was a kid, and it was simply magical. Kid-version me would give it two thumbs up. Adult-version me wants to go visit again!

Highlights and attractions : Cape Blanco Lighthouse, Prehistoric Gardens

Where to Eat: The Crazy Norwegian’s Fish & Chips

Where to Stay : WildSpring Guest Habitat

Click here to check for availability at WildSpring Guest Habitat

Brookings is Oregon’s southern most coastal town, and the last town on this Oregon Coast road trip. It’s an hour south of Port Orford, but only ten minutes from the California border. Plan to spend a half to a full day here.

One of the best things to do in Brookings is to visit the Oregon Redwoods ! There are two easy trails close to Brookings that are particularly good for seeing the Redwoods.

The Redwoods Nature Trail is located in the Siskyou National Forest, only 15 minutes from Brookings. This short loop is about 1.1 miles long. It can be steep in some parts and takes about 40 minutes to hike.

Another option is the Oregon Redwoods Trail . This hike is about 25 minutes southeast of Brookings, and it’s a 1.6 mile loop of moderate difficulty. It takes about an hour to hike, and isn’t highly trafficked.

After wandering through the Redwoods, take time to marvel at the coastline, along the 12 mile stretch of the Samuel H Boardman State Scenic Corridor . There are two particularly beautiful spots you’ll want to visit here.

The first spot is Natural Bridges . This viewpoint is a must-see, and is just 11 miles north of Brookings.

Note: It’s best to admire Natural Bridges from the designated viewpoint. Although there is a trail leading down for a closer look, this trail is steep, has sharp drop offs, and is prone to landslides. People have died on this trail.

The second spot you have to see for yourself is Secret Beach , at the north end of the corridor. However, you can only visit Secret Beach at low tide.

Highlights and attractions : Oregon Redwoods, Natural Bridges, Secret Beach

Where to Eat : Super Fly, Black Trumpet, Zolas

Where to Stay : Pelican Bay Lighthouse

Click here to check for availability at the Pelican Bay Lighthouse

How many days do you need for an Oregon Coast Road Trip?

You could easily do an Oregon Coast road trip in one or two weeks . However, if you want to include every stop in this itinerary, you’ll need to plan for 10 to 15 days.

What is the best month to visit the Oregon Coast?

The best time to visit the Oregon Coast will depend on what you want out of the trip. The Oregon Coast is beautiful all year round. However, the Pacific Ocean this far north is also cold all year round, even in the summer.

Plan your trip in the summer months, from July to August, for (almost) guaranteed warm weather and sunny days. Just know that some of these coastal towns can be very crowded during this time. And lodging is usually more expensive during this peak season.

Visit between June and August for super low tides. Or if you’re chasing King Tides, visit between November through February. However, be sure to look up dates for the super low tides and king tides, as they only occur for one week out of each of these months.

My personal favorite time to visit the Oregon Coast though, is the shoulder season, in May, June, September, and October. During these months, you’re still likely to get some sunny days mixed in between stormy weather. The beaches are far less crowded, and lodging rates are typically less expensive.

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The post The Best Oregon Coast Road Trip Itinerary appeared first on The Clever West Wind .

Your ultimate guide to an Oregon Coast road trip itinerary: where to stop, where to stay, where to eat, and what to see and do!

IMAGES

  1. How to visit and climb inside 9 Oregon Coast lighthouses

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  2. Sunset Light on Heceta Lighthouse

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  3. Oregon Coast Lighthouses Tour: Map and Itinerary for a Road Trip

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  4. 11 Lighthouses of the Oregon Coast

    oregon coast lighthouse tour

  5. 11 Oregon Lighthouses & The Adventures Nearby

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  6. Regal View Heceta Head Lighthouse Shining Across Oregon Coast

    oregon coast lighthouse tour

COMMENTS

  1. Oregon Road Trips: Oregon Coast Lighthouse Road Tour

    A trip down the Oregon Coast's Highway 101 isn't complete without stopping to view its historic lighthouses. Lighthouses served as the beacons and navigation aids for mariners of all types — big commercial cargo ships to small fishing boats — marking dangerous coastlines, shoals and boat-crunching reefs.

  2. 11 Lighthouses of the Oregon Coast

    11 Lighthouses on the Oregon Coast By Angela Brown Updated on 06/29/19 Oregon's wild, rugged coast is home to a number of scenic and historic lighthouses. These much-photographed icons are among the many attractions a visitor can enjoy while driving along Highway 101, the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway.

  3. 11 Oregon Lighthouses & The Adventures Nearby (2024)

    1. Tillamook Rock Lighthouse Located more than a mile off the North Coast of Oregon is 'Terrible Tilly', or Tillamook Rock Lighthouse. It stands on a sea stack of basalt and is well-known throughout Oregon. It is closed to the public, and while you can't visit it, it's still a formidable sight off of the coast of Tillamook Head.

  4. Oregon Coast Lighthouses Tour: Map and Itinerary for a Road Trip

    Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m Friday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (extended weekend hours apply during June, July and August only) In the event of bad weather, the lighthouse will be closed, however, please check the official website in advance to avoid unpleasant surprises.

  5. Lighthouses

    To schedule a tour of the lighthouse, contact the Friends of Cape Meares Lighthouse (503-842-2244) at least three weeks in advance between 11 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. from April through October. Directions: Cape Meares is located on the Three Capes Scenic Loop north of the village of Oceanside and approximately 10 miles west of Tillamook.

  6. Lighthouse Tour

    LIGHTHOUSE TOUR Southern Oregon Coast Lighthouse Tour Let Our Lighthouses Capture Your Imagination Combining coastal history and awe-inspiring views, lighthouses capture our imagination. Four of Oregon's eleven lighthouses are within a short drive from Bandon.

  7. How to visit and climb inside 9 Oregon Coast lighthouses

    There are seven Oregon Coast lighthouses you can visit and get a tour of the inside. None of the tours are quite the same. The places you're allowed to climb, the cost of each tour, the...

  8. 11 Iconic Lighthouses on the Oregon Coast (+Interesting History)

    Largely built between 1870 and 1896, there's a lot of history to wrap your head around. Read on for everything you need to know about visiting the charming lighthouses in Oregon. Hope you enjoy! Brief history on Oregon Coast lighthouses

  9. Oregon Coast Trips

    Summer tours available, visit the Lighthouse Visitor Center next door. Heceta Head Lighthouse: 59 miles north of Coos Bay and 12 miles north of Florence First illuminated in 1894, its light can be seen 21 miles from land, making it the strongest light on the Oregon Coast.

  10. Lighthouses on the Oregon Coast

    9 Oregon lighthouses along the coast from Astoria to Brookings for your next Oregon travel experience. Start at Cape Blanco and work your way north, taking in history, nostalgia and good chowder.

  11. Where to See the Best Lighthouses on the Oregon Coast

    October 6, 2023 / By Oregon Coast Weekend Heceta Head Lighthouse / Team Frosick, CC-BY-NC-2. Oregon's rocky coastline is dotted with historic lighthouses, most of which were built in the late 1800s to help ships navigate the turbulent waters of the Pacific.

  12. Yaquina Head Lighthouse Tours

    Yaquina Head Lighthouse Tours. There's something for everyone at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. Extending one mile out into the Pacific Ocean from the Oregon coast, Yaquina Head is a great place to spot wildlife such as gray whales, harbor seals, and nesting seabirds. At low tide the sea floor is exposed and colorful animals such as ...

  13. Yaquina Head Lighthouse Tours

    Yaquina Head is located on the central coast of Oregon at the north end of Newport. Newport is located 55 miles west of Corvallis. From Corvallis, take Hwy 20 to US Hwy 101 to Newport. Turn right onto Hwy 101 and proceed north 4.5 miles to Lighthouse Drive. Turn left to enter Yaquina Head.

  14. 7 Historic Lighthouses To Visit Along Oregon's Coast

    1. Cape Meares Lighthouse The northernmost Oregon lighthouse open to visitors, the Cape Meares Lighthouse is the shortest on the coast. Though only 38 feet high, the lighthouse stands 217 feet above the ocean on the edge of the cape. When built, this lighthouse was so isolated, it didn't even have a wagon road leading to it.

  15. Yaquina Head Lighthouse Tours

    Yaquina Head Lighthouse Tours. There's something for everyone at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. Extending one mile out into the Pacific Ocean from the Oregon coast, Yaquina Head is a great place to spot wildlife such as gray whales, harbor seals, and nesting seabirds. At low tide the sea floor is exposed and colorful animals such as ...

  16. Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint

    Lighthouse Program Join us for a staff-guided lighthouse program from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. in the summer and 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. in the winter, weather and staff permitting. No reservations are available for general public programs. School and tour groups may schedule ahead by e-mail to [email protected].

  17. 11 Lighthouses on the Oregon Coast

    A privately owned lighthouse that provides official navigation aid for the Coast Guard, Cleft of the Rock Lighthouse can be found south of Yachats on the northwest corner of the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area. While it is closed to the public, it can be viewed from Highway 101, near mile marker 166. Other Oregon Coast Lighthouses Tillamook Rock

  18. Ultimate Guide to the Oregon Coast's Lighthouses & Historic Sites

    Follow the 382-mile Oregon Coast Trail and you'll discover a number of historic treasures along the way.. The Oregon Coast is home to 12 lighthouses, many of which were commissioned during the 19th century. Most of the historic sites cluster around the northwest tip of the state where Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery finally reached the Pacific Ocean and John Jacob Astor founded what ...

  19. Coastal Charms: Oregon's 11 Most Majestic Lighthouses

    - March 30, 2023 A beautiful sunset in Newport, photo by Al Case / Flickr Ready for an adventure? Tour some of Oregon's most iconic lighthouses for a unique experience! Discover their history and explore stunning Pacific Ocean views along the way.

  20. Visit Heceta Head Lighthouse

    Heceta Head Lighthouse is 13 miles north of Florence at Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint, (formerly Devil's Elbow State Park). Day use parking is $5 or is covered by a $35 Oregon Coast Passport permit available at state parks. For more information on Heceta Head Lightstation visit www.hecetalighthouse.com or call 866-547-3696.

  21. Cape Blanco Lighthouse

    The Cape Blanco Lighthouse was just seven years old at the time and Langlois would be promoted after another seven years to head keeper, the role he maintained for the remainder of his 42-year career at Cape Blanco. The light has been in mostly continuous service up to today, and it is the oldest standing lighthouse in Oregon. It underwent a ...

  22. Oregon Coast Attraction and Adventure

    Whale Watching and Attractions near Newport. Heading north, travel to Newport and visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium, where you can observe seals, sea lions, sea turtles and a variety of ocean wildlife. Check out a natural phenomenon at Devils Punchbowl State Natural Area, as waves surge and swirl up in a hollow rock formation partially open to ...

  23. Umpqua River Lighthouse Museum

    It's Oregon law that the entire Coast is open to everyone. Explore all 363 miles. Check out 'Umpqua River Lighthouse Museum' . ... Tours of the lighthouse are available year-round. The museum's gift shop offers a range of nautical themed gifts and souvenirs. ... Cape Blanco is the most southern of Oregon's lighthouses, and is the ...

  24. The Best Oregon Coast Road Trip Itinerary

    This Oregon Coast road trip itinerary will take you from north to south, along Highway 101, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway. Spend a week or two on Oregon's coast, and I'm sure you ...