10 Must Visit Lighthouses in Oregon

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The treacherous Oregon coast vexed mariners for centuries with fierce storms, rocks that rise straight up from the depths of the ocean, and entrances to bays and rivers that can shipwreck even the most experienced of captains. Because of this, lighthouses are scattered up and down the coast, and while many have since been decommissioned, almost all are still accessible to the public.

Many stand on some of the most beautiful viewpoints along the coast and are always worth a stop when making a trip up or down this beautiful stretch of coastline.

So grab your binoculars, and let’s head out to the Oregon coast to tour the 10 lighthouses that are still holding watch over the Pacific.

Yaquina Head Lighthouse – Newport, Oregon

Yaquina Head Lighthouse
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.com

One of Oregon’s most famous lighthouses, the Yaquina Head Lighthouse, stands tall over the beaches of popular Newport, Oregon. This majestic lighthouse, first lit in 1873, is 93 feet tall, making it the tallest lighthouse in Oregon.

Today, the lighthouse stands within the Yaquina Head Natural Area, where you can hike the trails around it, visit the interpretive center, and tour this historic structure.

Heceta Head Lighthouse – Florence, Oregon

Heceta Head Lighthouse
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.com

One of the most picturesque and photographed lighthouses on the Oregon coast, the Heceta Head Lighthouse stands 53 feet tall and can be seen up to 21 miles offshore. Today, it is located within the Heceta Head State Scenic Viewpoint just north of Florence, Oregon.

This lighthouse is popular with visitors as it is also home to a bed and breakfast within the original lightkeeper’s quarters. Visitors to the B&B can enjoy nighttime walks down to the lighthouse and an artfully crafted 7-course breakfast featuring local ingredients.

Umpqua River Lighthouse – Winchester Bay, Oregon

Umpqua River Lighthouse
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.com

The original Umpqua River Lighthouse was the first lighthouse built in Oregon. However, due to its lowland location along the Umpqua River, the land under the lighthouse eventually eroded away, and it collapsed. The new lighthouse was built on higher ground in the late 1800s, and it still stands today.

This lighthouse is unique in that it is not visible from the ocean, as its sole purpose was to guide ships through the Umpqua River.

The lighthouse is open to tours and is one of the few that allows visitors to climb to the top and see the light up close.

Cape Arago Lighthouse – Coos Bay, Oregon

Cape Arago Lighthouse from South Sunset Beach Overlook, Oregon
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.com

One of the few Oregon lighthouses that is situated on an island rather than the mainland, the Cape Arago Lighthouse has stood watch over the entrance to Coos Bay since it was first illuminated in 1934.

There is no public access to the island, but views of the lighthouse are available from Lighthouse Beach or viewpoints along the Cape Aragao Highway.

Yaquina Bay Lighthouse – Newport, Oregon

Yaquina Bay Lighthouse
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.com

Not to be confused with the similarly named lighthouse just to the north, this squat lighthouse once helped guide mariners looking to enter Yaquina Bay in Newport, Oregon. The lighthouse was originally commissioned in 1871 but only lasted 3 years before decommissioning in 1874.

This small lighthouse is unique because it is the only lighthouse in the state, minus a couple of private lighthouses, where the lightkeepers’ living quarters are attached to the lighthouse itself. Because of this, the lighthouse looks more like a home with a cupola attached to the roof than a traditional lighthouse.

Cape Meares Lighthouse – Tillamook, Oregon

Cape Meares Lighthouse
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.com

Standing on the bluff above Oceanside, Oregon, this popular lighthouse offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and sea lions that call the rocks and beaches below home. The lighthouse is the shortest on the Oregon coast, at only 38 feet tall, but due to its location high on Cape Meares, this powerful light was once able to be seen more than 21 miles offshore.

No visit to the lighthouse would be complete without also checking out the nearby Oregon oddity: the octopus tree. This 300-year-old Sitka spruce has branches that branch into numerous trunks that reach to the sky like upside-down octopuses.

Tillamook Rock Lighthouse – Cannon Beach, Oregon

Tillamook Rock Light (known locally as Terrible Tilly or just Tilly) is a deactivated lighthouse on the Oregon Coast of the United States.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.com

The Tillamook Rock Lighthouse has one of the most unique histories of all Oregon lighthouses. Located on a literal rock more than a mile off the Oregon coast, “Terrible Tilly,” as it came to be known, has been battered by the relentless storms of the Pacific Ocean since its construction in the 1880s.

These storms eventually wore down the building and destroyed the light, and the lighthouse was shuttered in 1957. Since then it has changed ownership numerous times as the sea and wildlife make even getting to it nearly impossible.

The lighthouse and island are not open to the public, but they can be seen from viewpoints along Ecola State Park just north of Cannon Beach.

Coquille River Lighthouse – Bandon, Oregon

Coquille River Lighthouse
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.com

The Coquille River Lighthouse stands watch over Brandon Harbor where it once guided mariners past the treacherous sandbars that formed at the entrance to the bay. Originally commissioned in 1896 the lighthouse guided ships until a fire swept through town in the 1930s which resulted in a steep decline in marine traffic, eventually leading to the lighthouse shutting down.

Today, an automated light helps guide boats into the harbor, but the lighthouse still stands tall, although it is not open to the public.

Lightship Columbia – Astoria, Oregon

Lightship Columbia in Astoria, Oregon
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.com

The Lightship Columbia, docked outside of the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria, Oregon, is unique in that it is a floating lighthouse that once patrolled the treacherous waters of the Columbia River Bar. The Graveyard of the Pacific, as it came to be known, is home to 100s of shipwrecks, including the infamous Peter Airedale. The lightship provided a navigational aid that could be adjusted based on the ever-shifting sands along the bar.

The ship was decommissioned in 1979 and is now open to tours with admission to the adjoining museum.

Pelican Bay Lighthouse – Brookings, Oregon

The Pelican Bay Lighthouse, which was lit in 1999, is the youngest lighthouse on the Oregon Coast. This privately owned lighthouse stands 141 feet above the Pacific Ocean and nearby Brookings, Oregon

Part of what makes this lighthouse so unique is that it is built into a home that can be rented out to visitors wanting a unique stay. Don’t miss the view from the top of the lighthouse tower, where you can take in stunning sunsets over the Pacific Ocean.

About the author
Derek Carlson
Pacific Northwest native, cross-country skier, hiker, mountain biker, wannabe fly fisherman, writer and owner of Roam the Northwest