In many ways, the Oregon Coast feels like the pride and joy of Oregon state. The breathtaking coastline spans an impressive 363 miles and tempts both locals and tourists alike.
If you’re planning a visit yourself, I highly suggest visiting the 11 lighthouses on the Oregon Coast during your visit!
Last summer, my husband and I took a two week vacation and drove the entire length of the coast, popping off at every quaint small town and Oregon coast lighthouse we could find. The trip was absolutely heavenly and I wanted to share some helpful things we learned during our grand road trip.
Read on for everything you need to know about visiting the 11 lighthouses in Oregon. Hope you enjoy!
A brief history on the Oregon Coast lighthouses
There are currently 11 lighthouses at the Oregon Coast — nine original lighthouses and two private lighthouses that are certified by the US Coast Guard. All nine of the original lighthouses have been added to the national Register of Historic Places.
Most of the lighthouses built along the Oregon Coast were constructed to support shipping and fishing along the Oregon Coast. Today, seven of the nine original lighthouses are open to the public.
Since 1929, all functioning Oregon Coast lighthouses are managed by the U.S. Coast Guard. In an effort to streamline the functions of these important structures, the US Coast Guard installed automated beacons and transferred the lighthouse holding to local government agencies.
Received more than 2.5 millions visitors a year, these Oregon lighthouses are beloved by all. Some of them can be toured while others are private and can only be appreciated from a distance.
In this post, I’ll make sure to clearly identify the lighthouses you can and can’t visit.
Tips for visiting Oregon Coast Lighthouses
- The Oregon coast can be a chilly place even in the midst of summer. Dress in layers and bring warm clothes like sweaters and sweatpants.
Check the forecast
- I know, I know, this probably goes without saying but check the weather before you depart. The Oregon coast is notorious for being cloudy. Try to visit these iconic Oregon coast lighthouses during sunny clear days for unparalleled views of the breathtaking Pacific Ocean.
Wear hiking shoes with good traction
- The various trails along the Oregon coast are beautiful and slippery. They’re known for being muddy because of the constant drizzle, so make sure you have hiking shoes with good traction so that you can get up close and personal to some of these beauties!
- Whale watching is a favorite past time for most visitors to the Oregon coast and some of these lighthouses are in the perfect place to view these majestic whales. Also, you’re going to have ample opportunities to bird watch as well!
Iconic Lighthouses on the Oregon Coast
#11. Pelican Bay Lighthouse (not open to the public)
Pelican Bay Lighthouse is one of two private lighthouses on the Oregon Coast. It towers 141 feet above the Chetco River and was commissioned by the US Coast Guard as a private aid to navigation in 1999. Making it the newest lighthouse in Oregon!
The Pelican Bay Lighthouse was built as a private residence by the Cady family (Bill and JoAnn Cady). Since this Oregon lighthouse serves as both a home and functioning lighthouse, it is not open to the public but can be viewed from Highway 101.
Image credit: Neal’s Lighthouse Blog
#10. Cape Blanco Lighthouse | The oldest lighthouse at the Oregon Coast
Sitting pretty at the westernmost point in the contiguous United States, the Cape Blanco Lighthouse was built in 1870, making is the oldest continuously operating lighthouse in Oregon. This is one of my personal favorite lighthouses in Oregon because you can tour the inside and see the home of the lighthouse keepers and their families.
Regardless of how many times I’ve toured this lighthouse, I still find myself amazed by how small the bed are! It gets me every time! If you’d like to see for yourself, join the guided tours that are offered from April through October.
There is a day use fee of $3 per vehicle at this Oregon lighthouse.
#9. Cape Meares Lighthouse | The shortest lighthouse in Oregon
Standing at a mere 38 feet tall, the Cape Meares Lighthouse is the shortest lighthouse on the Oregon Coast. Built in 1890 and located 10 miles from the popular town of Tillamook, this lighthouse sits at 217 feet above sea level and offers breathtaking views of the Oregon coast and is a great spot for whale watching.
The Cape Meares Lighthouse was decommissioned in 1963 and is open to the public from April through October from 11am to 4pm. If you’re interested in scheduling a tour, contact the Friends of Cape Meares Lighthouse three weeks in advance.
#8. Coquille River Lighthouse
Originally built in 1896 to provide the critical service of guiding boats through the perilous sandbars of the Coquille River, this Oregon coast lighthouse lies two miles north of Bandon and is definitely worth a visit.
The Coquille River Lighthouse was relied upon until improvements were made to the river channel and the US Coast Guard decommissioned the lighthouse in 1939. The lighthouse was deserted for 24 years until the creation of Bullards Beach State Park in 1964, which encompassed this Oregon lighthouse.
What resulted was a full fledged restoration effort done in collaboration between the Corps of Engineers and park staff that revived the Coquille River Lighthouse and opened it to the public. Public tours are available from May through October and lead directly to the lantern room (which is so dang cool).
There is a day use fee of $3 per vehicle at this Oregon coast lighthouse.
Image courtesy of Lighthouse Friends
#7. Cape Arago Lighthouse (not open to the public)
Built in 1934, the Cape Arago Lighthouse is considered one of the newest lighthouses on the Oregon coast (welcome to the family, you!). Actually, I should clarify.
The first two version of this lighthouse were built in in 1866 and 1908 but fell victim to erosion and bad weather. So the third version of this Oregon lighthouse is one of the newest kids on the block.
The lighthouse was decommissioned in 2006 since its services were deemed unnecessary and soon after, the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians requested ownership of the lighthouse because the land belonged to them before European settlers claimed it for themselves.
In 2000, Oregon’s Congressional delegation approved the transfer and in 2013, the US Coast Guard turned over the Cape Arago Lighthouse to the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians.
Today this Oregon Coast lighthouse is not open to the public but it can be viewed from a distance. The best viewpoints, in my opinion, are found at Sunset Bay State Park.
Photo credit Quality Inn
#6. Cleft of the Rock Lighthouse (not open to the public)
Located in the breathtaking Perpetua National Scenic Area, the Cleft of the Rock Lighthouse serves as both a functional lighthouse and the private residence of Jim Gibbs, notable historian and author, he is considered an authority on Pacific Coast lighthouses.
Since this Oregon coast lighthouse is a private residence, it is not open to the public but it can be viewed from a distance.
Image credit: World of Lighthouses
#5. Yaquina Bay Lighthouse
The only lighthouse in Oregon built of wood, the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse was constructed in 1871 but only operated for a mere three years because being replaced by the Yaquina Head Lighthouse — a stone’s throw away.
What followed was a pattern of abandonment and the lighthouse was unused until 1906 when an observation tower was constructed before promptly falling victim to abandonment again thanks to it’s new neighbor.
Nothing notable happened until 1996 when the Coast Guard decided to commission the lighthouse and use it as a privately maintained aid to navigation.
Today the lighthouse also functions as a museum and is open to the public from October to Memorial Day (with the exception of the lantern room, which is inaccessible).
#4. Tillamook Rock Lighthouse (not open to the public)
Sitting 133 feet above sea level on a monolithic rock outcropping with a tower 62 feet tall, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that this Oregon Coast lighthouse was nicknamed Terrible Tilly because of the challenges its construction posed.
It’s located 1.2 miles from the shore and distance highlights what an engineering feat this lighthouse truly is! the keepers of this lighthouse were paid higher wages because of the isolation and dangers association with living away from the “mainland.”
The Tillamook Rock Lighthouse was in operation from 1881 to 1957 until being decommissioned and abandoned for 20 years. Today the lighthouse is privately owned and is not open to the public but can be viewed fro afar. For the best views of this Oregon lighthouse, visit Indian Beach at Ecola State Park.
Image courtesy of Travel Oregon
#3. Yaquina Head Lighthouse | The tallest lighthouse in Oregon
Sitting 162 feet above sea level with a height of 93 feet, the Yaquina Head Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in Oregon. Tucked into the stunning Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, this Oregon lighthouse is still used for navigation to this day.
Surrounded by mesmerizing tide pools and impressive cliff sides, this is a great area for bird watching during the summer months.
As mentioned earlier, the Yaquina Head Lighthouse replaced the aforementioned Yaquina Bay Lighthouse in 1873 and it open to the public. This Oregon lighthouse is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and requires a nominal entrance fee of $7 per vehicle.
Important: As of July 2021, the Yaquina Head Lighthouse and Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area are temporarily closed until further notice.
#2. Umpqua River Lighthouse | The first lighthouse on the Oregon Coast!
The original Umpqua River Lighthouse was constructed in 1857, making it the first lighthouse on the Oregon Coast! The claim to fame didn’t last too long though because the lighthouse fell victim to erosion and fell into the river a mere seven years later.
The lighthouse was reconstructed in 1892 and has a unique twist. Rather than the standard white lights most Oregon lighthouses are equipped with, the Umpqua River Lighthouse was built with both red and white lights and emits alternating red/white beams out to sea.
This is one of the most scenic lighthouses on the Oregon coast and thankfully it’s open to the public from May to September, tours provided by volunteers for a small donation. It’s definitely worth a visit.
Image credit: Greg Disch
#1. Heceta Head Lighthouse
Looking for a good reason to visit this iconic lighthouse on the Oregon Coast? I can help you out. Heceta Head Lighthouse is the most photographed lighthouse in the country. How cool is that?
Built in 1893, this monolithic lighthouse sits 205 feet above see level with an impressive tower that spans 56 feet. Casting a light 22 miles to the sea, this is the strongest lighthouse on the Oregon coast.
The keepers house is located right next to the this Oregon coast lighthouse and now serves as a bread and breakfast serving a 7-course breakfast every morning (imagine staying there!).
The Heceta Head Lighthouse is open to the public and tours are available from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
P.S. If you’re confused because the Heceta Head Lighthouse looks strikingly similar to the Umpqua River Lighthouse, don’t be. These two lighthouses were built using the same plans.
Oregon Coast Lighthouses (Summary)
In sum, these are the 11 lighthouses on the Oregon Coast
- Heceta Head Lighthouse
- Umpqua River Lighthouse
- Yaquina Head Lighthouse
- Tillamook Rock Lighthouse
- Yaquina Bay Lighthouse
- Cleft of the Rock Lighthouse
- Cape Arago Lighthouse
- Coquille River Lighthouse
- Cape Meares Lighthouse
- Cape Blanco Lighthouse
- Pelican Bay Lighthouse
Map of lighthouses in Oregon
And there you have it my friends – a quick roundup of the epic lighthouses on the Oregon coast. I hope you enjoyed the post!
Until next time,