Lighthouses On The Oregon Coast

When I think of romantic things, lighthouses on the Oregon coast are on the top of my list. There is something magical about those structures for me.

lighthouse lense

I think one of those things is the fact that they are a strength surrounded by a storm. They have the responsibility of guiding mighty sea vessels to safety and away from danger. Watching them perform their duty from a distance and through a dense fog is just so absolutely cool to me.

Originally, they were nothing more than a bonfire on a hillside that would help to guide the ships. Just a little factoid you can use in your next game of Trivial Pursuit. ;) In addition, many of those that are open to the public allow wedding ceremonies to be performed there. Something you may want to check into.

Books and Oregon coast lighthouses video and DVD's continue to be written and produced. They understand the romance that follows this wonderfully classic structures and people eat it up. I certainly do. ;) 

There are eleven Oregon coast lighthouses that grace the Pacific NW coastline. Below is a map of the lighthouses on the Oregon coast and details on each:

oregon coast lighthouse map

tillamook rock lighthouse

Tillamook Rock Light - Seaside, OR

Nicknamed "Terrible Tilly" because of the tremendous storm conditions the light and it's inhabitants had to endure, this lonely looking lighthouse stands 133 feet above sea level with it's 62-foot-high tower. It was commissioned in 1881 to help guide the ships entering the Columbia River. It is the only privately owned lighthouse on the National Register of Historic Places, used as a columbarium, a storage place for the ashes of the deceased.

Open to the public: No

Directions: Take Highway 101 to just north of Cannon Beach and exit west onto Beach Loop. After 0.3 miles, turn right onto 5th Street and drive 0.15 miles to Ecola Park Road. Turn right onto Ecola Park Road and follow it to Ecola State Park. This is the best view you can get.

cape meares lighthouse

Cape Meares Light - Tillamook, OR

Construction on the Cape Meares Light began in 1888 and it was first lit in 1890.Cape Meares' tower is only a stubby 38 feet, but is aided by it's location, sitting high above the ocean on a 217 foot cliff. It was decommissioned in 1963 when an automated beacon was installed on a concrete blockhouse a few feet away from the tower. The new light can be seen from 25 miles at sea. Cape Meares Lighthouse was opened up to the public on Memorial Day, 1980.

Open to the public: Yes

Hours: Daily April through October from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm.

Directions: From Tillamook, take 3rd Street (also known as Netarts Highway), west to Bayocean Road. Keep north on Bayocean Road around Tillamook Bay. The road will turn south and become Cape Meares Loop Road. Approximately 2 miles after the road turns south, you will find Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint.

yaquina head lighthouse

Yaquina Head Light - Newport, OR

Construction on the Yaquina Head Light began in 1871 and was often times delayed as a result of the rough weather making it difficult for boats to get in with materials. Finally, the light was first lit on August 20, 1873.

Building this historical 93-foot tower (the tallest of the Oregon lighthouses, with the trek to the top taking you up 114 steps. Whew!) just south of the Yaquina Bay Light is what killed off the smaller of the two lights.

Some say that it was originally supposed to be built at Cape Foulweather, which is about 6 miles north. The light was automated in 1966 and can be seen from 19 miles out to sea. 

Yaquina Head Light is one of the most visited Lights on the Oregon Coast and boasts 350,000 guests to Yaquina Head each year, with 98,000 of those visiting the lighthouse. 

Although this still-operating lighthouse is open to the public, you cannot climb to the top where the light is located; Coast Guard regulations forbid it.

Also, it is only open during daylight hours. It's been said that the reason for this is so that people don't get spooked at night as a result of it's ghostly legacy. True or not? I don't know. You can read about it on my Haunted Lighthouse page.

Open to the public: Yes

Hours: Hours are from noon to 4 pm, for self-guided tours.

Directions: From Highway 101 in Agate Beach, travel three miles north of Newport, turn west onto Lighthouse Drive and then follow it to the lighthouse.

Contact: (541) 574-3100

yaquina bay lighthouse

Yaquina Bay Light - Newport, OR

Completed and lit in 1871, the Yaquina Bay light was closed three short years later. The reasoning was that Yaquina Head Light was said to better serve the area.

Empty and deserted for 14 years, the Lincoln County Historical Society was formed in 1948, with the sole purpose of saving the lighthouse. In 1956, it was dedicated as a historical site and served as a museum for 18 years. In 1974, the lighthouse was restored. The light was finally re-lit in 1996 and aids in navigation with it's fixed, white lens being visible from 6 miles away. 

This handsomely built structure is located on the north end of Yaquina Bay bridge and is open to the public daily from Memorial Day weekend thru September, with a quaint gift shop located in the basement.

Open to the public: Yes

Hours: Daily except for Christmas, New Years, and Thanksgiving. From Memorial Day weekend through the end of September, hours are 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. The rest of the year, hours are noon until 4:00 pm.

Directions: Take the first exit north of the Yaquina Bay Bridge on Highway 101 in Newport and keep going west into Yaquina Bay State Park, where the lighthouse is located. It is perched on a small hill.

Contact: (541) 265-5679 or (541) 867-7451.

cleft of the rock lighthouse

Cleft of the Rock Light - Cape Perpetua, OR

Located 1.8 miles south of Yachats, the 1976-built Cleft of the Rock Light stands 110 feet above the Pacific Ocean and is privately owned. Unfortunately, it is not open to the public, but it can be viewed from a pullout located along Hwy 101. To this day, it guides vessels that travel between Coos Bay and Yaquina Bay.

Open to the public: No

Directions: Highway 101, travel to the turnout near milepost 166, 1.8 miles south of Yachats.

heceta head lighthouse

Heceta Head Light - Florence, OR

One of the most photographed and visited of all lighthouses on the Oregon Coast, this beauty stands 205 feet above sea level and it's light can be seen from over 21 miles away. It is also truly romantic.

Construction began in 1892 and it first began serving in 1894. Aside from the tower, there was a single dwelling for the light keeper and two duplexes for the assistants. The light was automated in 1963 and one of the duplexes is now a bed and breakfast, serving awesome meals, including a gourmet, seven-course breakfast. If you ever think of staying there (I recommend you do), call way ahead of time. There is a three-month waiting list. Heceta House is known as one of the ten most haunted lights houses in the United States. 

For a small entrance fee, you can hike up to the lighthouse and the keeper's quarters.

Open to the public: Yes

Hours: Daily from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. During March, April, and October, the hours change to 11 am to 3 pm, daily.

Directions: Approximately eleven miles north of Florence, turn off of Highway 101 into the Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint.

Contact: (541) 547-3416

umpqua river lighthouse

Umpqua River Light - Winchester Bay, OR

Built from the same plans as Heceta Head Lighthouse, this light was built in 1890 and opened in 1894. The awesome, 65-foot lighthouse tower has a revolving, automated red and white lens that is in operation 24-hours a day and can be seen from some 20 miles out to sea. It
's quite mesmerizing.

Open to the public: Yes

Hours: Tours are offered May 1 - October 30.

Directions: Just under a mile south of Winchester Bay, take Lighthouse Road west, 0.7 miles from Highway 101 to the lighthouse.

Contact: (541) 271-4631

cape arago lighthouse

Cape Arago Light - Charleston, OR

In operation since 1866 and located just south of Coos Bay, Cape Arago helped to manage lumber out of Coos Bay and North Bend. Unfortunately, it is not open to the public, but can still be viewed from the Sunset Bay State Park, south of Charleston.
 The light was decommissioned on January 1, 2006.

Open to the public: No

Directions: From US 101, go west on the Cape Arago Highway between Coos Bay and North Bend (look for signs for "Charleston" and "Ocean Beaches"). Follow the highway past Charleston to Sunset Bay State Park.

coquille river lighthouse

Coquille River Light - Bandon, OR

The Coquille River Light was first lit on February 29, 1896. It was built as a means of guiding vessels that exported lumber and other goods from the Coquille River Valley. Shifting sands and, at times, water that was only 3 feet deep (later increased to 10 feet by the addition of a south jetty), made entrance to the river extremely hazardous. As the river's traffic increased because of the improvements, a navigational aid was needed and the lighthouse was built.

Open to the public: Yes

Hours: Daily from 10 am to 4 pm in May. From June through September, it is open from 10 am to 4 pm, Monday and Tuesday; 9 am. to 6 pm, Wednesday through Sunday. In October, the hours are 10 am to 4 pm, daily.

Directions: From Highway 101, just over two miles north of Bandon, turn west into Bullards Beach State Park and follow Park Road to where it ends at the Coquille River.

Contact: (541) 347-2209

cape blanco lighthouse

Cape Blanco Light - Port Orford, OR

Lit for the first time in 1870, it is the oldest original tower in Oregon today. Cape Blanco Light is located on Oregon's Southern Coast and juts out 1 
½ miles into the Pacific Ocean. This light stands so far away from any harbor, it's primary function was to warn ships away from the reefs and to provide a location fix for navigators. The light was automated in 1980.

Open to the public: Yes

Hours: Thursday through Monday from 10:00 am to 3:30 pm from the month of April through October.

Directions: Take Highway 101 and go 4.5 miles north of Port Orford or 8.5 miles south of Langlois. Turn west onto Cape Blanco Road and then follow it to its end at the lighthouse.

Contact: (541) 332-2207

port of brookings lighthouse

Port of Brookings Light - Brookings, OR

In 1990, Bill Cady decided to have a light house added onto his home. In 1997, it was relocated to it's current location, perched on a cliff 100 feet above the Pacific Ocean. Mr. Cady received federal approval in 1999 and the light was first lit on July 4th of that year. The light is also known as the Pelican Bay Lighthouse. 

Since it is a private residence, it is not open to the public. Even though, you can view it from the boat basin on Short Way in Harbor, near Brookings. Please respect the privacy of it's owner.

Open to the public: No

Directions: From Crescent City, CA, take Hwy 101 approximately six miles, and then turn west onto West Benham Lane. Continue less than a mile to the boat basin.

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