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A beautiful headland on the central Oregon coast offering a glorious lighthouse, spectacular views and some amazing tide pools to explore

Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area extends out from the Oregon coast, one mile into the Pacific Ocean. Standing 93 feet tall at the westernmost point of the basalt headland, the lighthouse has been a bright beacon of the night, guiding ships and their supplies along the west coast since the light was first lit on August 20, 1873.

1. THE LIGHTHOUSE

The 93-foot lighthouse tower is located on a narrow point of land jutting due west nearly 1 mile into the Pacific Ocean north of Newport, at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. Winds and rain have buffeted this lighthouse since its beginning in 1872, and it took approximately one year, and over 370,000 bricks to construct.

Originally the lamp was lit by burning oil burning and was displayed from sunset to sunrise. Today, the fully automated first-order Fresnel lens runs on commercial power and flashes its unique pattern of 2 seconds on, 2 seconds off, 2 seconds on, 14 seconds off, 24 hours a day. The oil-burning wicks have been replaced with an LED stack (36 individual LED bulbs).

Sadly, when we visited it was during the Covid-19 pandemic so tours of the lighthouse were not running. In better times you can tour the lighthouse to find out how the lighthouse works and what it would be like to be a lighthouse keeper. . Lighthouse tours are offered by Friends of Yaquina Lighthouses at no additional charge. Tours must be reserved in person on the day of the tour and are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Sign up for a tour at the Interpretive Center. Get current information about tour availability at www.yaquinalights.org/tours-at-yaquina-head-lighthouse. Good shoes are required to ascend the steep and winding staircase to the top of the lighthouse. Visitors should be physically able to climb 114 stairs to the top of the lighthouse. Children must be at least 42 inches tall and must be able to walk the tour on their own. All children under age 12 must be accompanied by someone over age 16. 
The view from Yaquina Head
The waves crashing below the cliffs at Yaquina Head
The Yaquina Head lighthouse standing tall on the cliffs
The Yaquina Head lighthouse

2. THE INTERPRETIVE CENTRE 

This is a good place to start your exploration of Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area to find out more about the history and geology of the area. It is run by volunteers from Friends of Yaquina Lighthouses.

There are parking areas at the Interpretive Center and the lighthouse, about a half-mile apart. The Interpretive Center is a good base if you want to park once and explore the rest of the park on foot.

3. NATURE TRAILS

Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area has several short nature trails for those who are hoping to spot wildlife or enjoy the scenic beauty of the Oregon Coast. All of the trails are about one mile or less, round trip. The trail from the Interpretive Center to the lighthouse is wide and paved, as are paths to three observation points.

4. TIDE POOLS

Follow the trail from the Yaquina Head Lighthouse to explore the tide pools below. At low tide, you may spot sea stars, green anemones, spiny purple sea urchins, mussels, volcano-shaped barnacles, turban snails, hermit crabs and many more.

There are often Rangers around who can help with understanding the sea life you will find around the tide pools.

Remember this is a protected area and entering the tide pools and touching the sea creatures is prohibited. Keep an eye on young children, the rocks are slippery and they could easily hurt themselves.

The Yaquina Head lighthouse from the tide pools
Exploring the tide pools at Yaquina Head
Mussels and assorted sea life on the beach at Yaquina Head
The tide pools are a fun place to explore at Yaquina Head

In summary …

  • Yaquina Head is a beautiful place to spend an hour or two exploring and only a few miles from Newport
  • Go to the Interpretive Center to start your visit and book a lighthouse tour if you to find out more about the lighthouse and get a birds-eye view of the Pacific Ocean
  • Don’t forget to bring sturdy shoes for the lighthouse and beach. A jacket might be a good idea even in the height of summer. It can get windy and chilly!

Visiting Yaquina Head

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

Newport is located 55 miles west of Corvallis on the central Oregon coast. Take Hwy. 20 to U.S. Hwy. 101 to Newport. Turn right onto Hwy. 101 and proceed north 4.5 miles to Lighthouse Drive and 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 signs on the highway and at the stop light at the intersection of Hwy. 101 and Lighthouse Drive to help direct you to Yaquina Head.

Location:Newport, Oregon
Websitehttps://www.blm.gov/learn/interpretive-centers/yaquina
Hours:8 AM to sunset
Fees:Private vehicle: $7 for a 3-day pass, Motorcycle: $3 for a 3-day pass, Cyclists are free

Best time to visit Yaquina Head

Since it’s the warmest and driest season, summer is the most popular time of year on the Oregon Coast. The crowds can be pretty big at times on the North Coast and Central Coast, especially in Seaside, Cannon Beach, Lincoln City and Newport. The South Coast is less crowded in summer because of its distance from major metropolitan areas. Many people agree that fall is the best time to visit the coast because the weather is still warm, it’s much less busy and accommodations prices drop a little. Winter on the Oregon Coast is not for everyone, but plenty of people love it. Winter storm watching is a thing on the Oregon Coast, and the beachcombing for agates, fossils and shells is the best. November to January is rainiest season on the coast. Late spring is lovely on the coast, and it’s a great time to visit the coast before the crowds come. Whatever time of year you come, bring layers and prepare for the possibility of rain.

Where to eat & drink?

Sometimes being a vegan can be challenging when travelling, and this proved to be the case when visiting Newport. Luckily, we chose to self-cater so most of our meals were under our own control. When we did go out it was generally to enjoy a pint of the local craft beers and a bowl of fries. Luckily, we found a couple of great micro-breweries in the area to checkout. 

1. THE ROGUE BREWERY

Rogue Ales was founded in Ashland, Oregon in 1988 by three Nike, Inc. executives: Jack Joyce, Rob Strasser, and Bob Woodell. The company brews their own beer, distils their own spirits, farms their own ingredients and coopers their own barrels

In February 1989, construction began on the Bay Front Brew Pub in Newport. You can sit and enjoy a pint and some food whilst gazing out onto the harbour.

Website: https://www.rogue.com/

Address: 2320 SE Marine Science Dr, Newport,

2. NEWPORT BREWING COMPANY

Newport Brewing Company is a relative newcomer opening its doors in 2019. This Craft Brewery & Restaurant is located in the Historic Bayfront District of Newport.

Website: https://www.newportbrewingcompany.com/

Location: 1118 SW Canyon Way, Newport

3. THE HORN PUBLIC HOUSE & BREWERY – DEPOE BAY

Located on the main street through Depoe Bay the Horn Public House is home to the Depoe Bay Brewing Company. There is a downstairs bar and restaurant which is atmospheric but we chose to eat upstairs as the seating there (if you’re by the window) gives you either great views of the harbour or the Pacific Ocean. We tried the stout they had on tap and a plate of fries!

Where to stay

1. INN AT NYE BEACH

Inn at Nye Beach is located on the beach and in a walkable area with great shopping. Burrows House Museum and Yaquina Bay Bridge are local landmarks, and the area’s natural beauty can be seen at Nye Beach and Ona Beach State Park. Oregon Coast Aquarium and Oregon Undersea Gardens are also worth visiting.

2. SYLVIA BEACH HOTEL

Sylvia Beach Hotel was named in honour of Sylvia Beach, the expatriate American bookseller and publisher who opened Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris in 1919. Located in Newport on the central Oregon coast, Sylvia Beach Hotel sits on a bluff above Nye Beach and the Pacific Ocean.

Originally built in 1912 as the New Cliff House hotel, the structure was renovated in the 1980s to become a 21-room literary-themed bed and breakfast with a homey and eclectic charm that attracts readers, writers, and travellers from all over the world. It has been listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Each room includes details and books to reflect the life and writings of 21 different authors. 

3. LITTLE CREEK COVE

Each unit in this Newport motel features a full kitchen with a dishwasher and ocean views. Right on the beach, it offers private beach access. The Oregon Coast Aquarium is less than a 15 minute drive away.

Guests can enjoy a fireplace and a private terrace facing the ocean in each guest room at Little Creek Cove. A sitting area with free Wi-Fi and a flat-screen cable TV are also available.

For more information check out Booking.com

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