“Outstanding” Natural Area seems like a tall order to live up to, but Yaquina Head does not fall short. Fantastic coastal views, an extremely picturesque lighthouse, birding opportunities, and educational programs are all readily available. Stop at the Interpretive Center to plan your visit and learn about lighthouse history. Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area will not disappoint.
Check out the Oregon Coast Lighthouse Roundup.
Yaquina Head Lighthouse
Yaquina Head is a stunning lighthouse in a lovely setting. Perched on headlands north of Newport, this smooth white cylinder reaches 93 feet toward the sky. From the parking lot, the lighthouse can be reached within 250 steps. There are two resting spots on the way. At the first resting spot, 50 steps in, a pair of benches sits just past a large concrete compass, where you can witness the lighthouse to the west and coastline to the south. Another 125 steps reaches seating nearest the lighthouse, and the viewing deck is 75 steps beyond.
On our visit, knowledgeable volunteers greeted us at the deck and explained the birds on the white-topped rock islands and cliffs nearby. Educational signs are plentiful, covering topics such as the seabirds, the lighthouse, its keepers, and more. You can schedule a tour of the lighthouse interior, but it is a 114-stair vertical climb in the tower to the watch room. (I did not attempt this…YouTube satisfied my curiosity.)
Although the purpose of this parking area is to access to the lighthouse, the viewpoint on its north side warrants a stop. The ocean churns within the tall crevasse and foams onto a small, black rock beach immediately below. An informative sign explains lava formation in the area.
Quarry Cove overlook
On the day we visited, Quarry Cove overlook offered an appreciated respite from the gusty ocean drafts. The lengthy stretch of Agate and Nye beaches is visible from both of the two seating areas, as are nearby air and sea wildlife. The right cluster of benches looks down on the quarry. Visitors stroll the shores of the cove nestled at the foot of the cliffs, and fisherman on nearby rocks drop lines a significant distance to reach their potential catches. Below the bench alcove on the left, a narrow sea entrance opens to a calm inlet and water-filled cavern.
Note: A gate opener is available from the Interpretive Center for handicapped access to a lower parking area for Quarry Cove. This area provides a closer view of the cove and often-present seals. You can also walk from the upper parking lot, but both the distance and steepness of this route prevent it from being a 100 Steps destination.