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!
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
Tours: are offered by reservation only, and there are limited tickets per day.
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!
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fishing, swimming, boating, and beachcombing are also popular activities, and there is a camping ground at the park too.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.