Spend the day driving along the beautiful Highway 101 along the coast of Oregon – and you will see many signs urging you to visit the many lighthouses from yesteryear along your route. One, in particular, stands out to our family – with a name that indicates that this is not your usual drive to a tall pillar with a flashlight on top . . . . The Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area.
After purchasing your $7.00 pass, or using one of your travel passes, you’ll find yourself driving along the cliff that loops out to the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. You’ll want a copy of the map given by the booth attendant to be able to know what is instore. This is no casual drive by. I suggest an all day outing, especially if you are camping at South Beach Campground or Beverly Beach State Park.
Whales, Birds, Sea life, Intertidal Pools, Trails, Interpretive Centers, and a tour of the lighthouse await! We have spent an entire afternoon at the Quarry Cove inspecting the tide pools, watching seals play, and following the birds along the trails and cliffs. Cobble Beach is another area to hike down to the water and play on a rocky shoreline – beachcombing treasures await!
There is a large interpretive center for learning – we have toured this facility but have not had time yet to fully enjoy it! As you travel along the road, the lighthouse comes into view. Stepping out of your car in the spring and summer, and you’ll be greeted with a curious sound. Birds. Literally tons of birds. 70-80 Thousand Common Murres nest at Colony Rock west of the Lighthouse in the Pacific Ocean. Joined by nesting Cormorants, Gulls, Brandts, pelagic cormorants, pigeon guillemots, western gulls, and glaucous-winged gulls – it is quite a show. Add to that the Bald Eagles and Peregrine Falcons who like the all you can eat sea bird buffet – and you have quite the treat!
Speaking of treats – When your feet are aching, your camera card is full, and your skin is windblown – stop in at Izzy’s All you can eat buffet at the entrance to the area. We have enjoyed the quality of their steak house, pizza and salad bar. The bonus is that it sits atop the cliff overlooking Newport, Oregon all the way to South Beach.
Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area 750 NW Lighthouse Dr
Newport, Oregon 97365
Hours of Operation
The park grounds are open every day of the year. The entrance gate opens at sunrise or 6:00 AM, whichever is later, and closes at sunset. Winter hours start November 1.
Summer Hours 9:00 to 5:00
Fall Hours 10:00 to 5:00
Winter hours 10:00 to 4:30
Summer Hours 11:00 to 4:00
Fall Hours 10:00 to 4:00
Winter Hours 12:00 to 4:00
$7.00 BLM Fee per Vehicle for up to 9 passengers– Pass information.
Click here for driving directions to and from the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area.
Angie Wright spends her days exploring the Central Oregon Coast. You may find her reading in her canoe in the morning, hiking the cool of the mountains in the afternoon or walking along the beach at sunset. An avid birder, reader and mother of two outgoing middle school boys – our her life is full of adventure! You can read all about her many adventures at Petra School.
© 2011, Tonya Prater. All rights reserved.