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
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
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
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
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
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
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.