One More Reason to Visit the Oregon Coast
The simple joy of taking a morning walk on a sandy beach is reason enough for me to hop in the car and head to the Oregon Coast. For those who require a more structured reason to visit Oregon’s bountiful coastline, consider taking a trip to see Oregon’s original lighthouses. These coastal workhorses—still providing light and safety to sea travelers today—are historical treasures not to be missed and offer up the perfect excuse to get away for the weekend.
Heceta Head Lighthouse
There are 11 lighthouses lining Oregon’s coastline, seven of which are open to the public. Heceta Head Lighthouse, pronounced “He-see-tah,” is named after Portuguese explorer Don Bruno Heceta—sailing for the Royal Spanish Navy—who is credited with exploring much of the Pacific Northwest coastline. Today, Heceta Head Lighthouse—sandwiched between Yachats and Florence—is one of the most visited lighthouses along the Pacific coast. Open to the public seven days a week, Heceta Head Lighthouse offers daily tours and the grounds include a seven mile hiking trail system. For visitors keen on an out-of-this-world lighthouse experience, the Heceta Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast offers 15 rooms set in the historic assistant lighthouse keeper’s house.
“The lighthouse shines 21 miles out to sea,” says Inn Manager Misty Anderson. “(Stay for) the famous seven course breakfast of food sourced from local Oregon artisans and the ocean views during the nightly wine socials.”
Umpqua River Lighthouse
The Umpqua River Lighthouse, a “sea sentinel” guarding the convergence of the Umpqua River with the mighty Pacific Ocean at Winchester Bay, was the first lighthouse built in the Oregon Territory. Commissioned in 1857, the original lighthouse suffered a number of hardships, including massive winter flooding damage from the thundering waters of the Umpqua River, that required a rebuild.
Resurrected in 1894, the present-day Umpqua River Lighthouse towers over the sometimes treacherous entrance to Winchester Bay. The Umpqua River Lighthouse’s signature light—each lighthouse has one—operates with a French “1st Order Fresnel Lens” that emits a red glow, followed by two white flashes. The lighthouse is one of only two containing a Fresnel Lens that visitors can climb into and experience first hand.
The Umpqua River Lighthouse—a two hour drive from Eugene—offers daily lighthouse tours for a nominal fee, as well as the occasional nighttime tour. The Lighthouse Museum, a “lovingly restored Coast Guard barracks,” offers historical displays and memorabilia and is open seasonally.
These coastal workhorses—still providing light and safety to sea travelers today—are historical treasures not to be missed and offer up the perfect excuse to get away for the weekend.
Yaquina Head Lighthouse
The Yaquina Head Lighthouse, Oregon’s tallest lighthouse with a 93-foot tall perch above the Pacific Ocean, encapsulates Oregon’s pioneer spirit. At the time of its construction in the 1870’s, there were no accessible mainland roads and all materials were transported via the Pacific Ocean. Located just four miles north of Newport, the modern-day visit to Yaquina Head Lighthouse mirrors times past and can be combined with other coastal hot spots like the Oregon Coast Aquarium.
Visitors may tour the Yaquina Head Lighthouse via ranger-led tours offered by the Bureau of Land Management, the operating arm of the lighthouse. Tours are offered daily during the summer and can be reserved in advance.