Lighthouse hunting on Oregon’s Adventure Coast is an exciting and historic activity the whole family will enjoy.
Oregon’s Adventure Coast: Coos Bay, North Bend, Charleston has a long, rich maritime history dating back hundreds of years, and the lighthouses located up and down the Oregon coastline are special relics from that era that can still be seen today. These majestic beacons of light are a testament to the ingenuity and dedication of the early lighthouse keepers, who worked tirelessly to ensure the safety of mariners along the treacherous Oregon Coast. Not to mention they are beautiful to look at!
It’s worth noting that FIVE out of the nine lighthouses in the state are within an hour’s drive of Coos Bay, North Bend, and Charleston. In this post, we’re going to highlight these maritime wonders and we recommend you plan a road trip to visit all five in person!
Standing at 44 feet, the Cape Arago Lighthouse near Charleston, Oregon is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is one of the iconic sites travelers will see as they travel along the Cape Arago Beach Loop . The multiple vista points make it one of the most photographed lighthouses on the West Coast. The history of the Cape Arago Lighthouse dates back to 1866, when Coos Bay was one of the most active harbors on the West Coast, and there was a need for a lighthouse to guide ships carrying lumber and coal into our bay.
Though images of the lighthouse are posted everywhere, the lighthouse itself remains a mystery to many. It is no longer in operation, nor is it open to the public. And yet, it still has a commanding presence and simple beauty, making it the star of photographs and journals from travelers from around the world! Unfortunately, there is no public access to this lighthouse, but there are great views of it from Bastendorff Beach County Park, the Oregon Coast Trail, and the viewpoint on Cape Arago Hwy.
How to Get There- The Cape Arago Lighthouse is located just 12 miles southwest of Coos Bay/North Bend in Charleston. From Hwy 101, head west on Newmark Ave (near The Mill Casino * Hotel & RV Park), follow the road for 2.9 miles and turn left on Cape Arago Hwy. Once you cross the bridge into Charleston, continue straight onto Cape Arago Beach Loop, drive 8.6 miles for the Lighthouse viewpoint.
Located in Bandon, the Coquille River Lighthouse Interpretive Center can be found on Bullards Beach State Park, about 20 miles south of Coos Bay. The lighthouse was built in 1896, decommissioned in 1939, and restored as an interpretive center in 1979. Today, the tower itself is not open to the public due to safety concerns, but visitors can tour the Interpretive Center Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays from 11am to 5pm.
How to Get There- From Hwy 101, turn west into Bullard’s Beach State Park, just north of Bandon. Inside the park, take a left and travel 2 miles to the Lighthouse.
The Umpqua River Lighthouse is located 19 miles north of North Bend on Hwy 101 and stands 65-feet tall. Its original purpose was to signal the entrance to the Umpqua River. It was constructed in 1857, making it the first lighthouse on the Oregon Coast. Unfortunately, it collapsed during a storm, but was rebuilt in 1894. Today, this historic lighthouse is managed by Umpqua Valley Museums and is open for tours from May through September. Visitors can climb to the top of the lighthouse, but this is only possible with guided tours. The Lighthouse Visitor Center is located next door, and it is recommended to visit the museums adjacent to the Visitor Center to learn about the lighthouse’s history, the surrounding area, and the US Coast Guard’s presence on the Oregon Coast.
How to Get There. From North Bend, take Highway 101 to Winchester Bay and head west on Umpqua Lighthouse Road. Make your first right.
Located just 59 miles north of Coos Bay, a visit to The Heceta Head Lighthouse is a fun day-trip the whole family can enjoy. Named for its crowning feature, this iconic lighthouse also offers access to a sheltered beach and a scenic hike along the Oregon Coast Trail. The lighthouse was initially lit in 1894, and can be viewed from a distance of 21 miles, making it the most potent light on the Oregon Coast. During the summer and winter, visitors can participate in a guided tour of the lighthouse from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., respectively, depending on the weather and staff availability.
How to Get There. From Hwy 101, travel 12 miles north of Florence. Just north of Cape Creek Tunnel, turn right and the road curves around under Hwy 101 to the parking lot.
Just 48 miles south of Coos Bay, the Cape Blanco Lighthouse is the oldest standing lighthouse on the Oregon Coast. Its 59 foot conical tower is situated on the westernmost point in Oregon, towering 245 feet above the ocean. The lighthouse was commissioned in 1870 to aid shipping generated by gold mining and the lumber industry. Access to the grounds is restricted to foot traffic, with a quarter of a mile walk from the gate to the lighthouse. Visiting hours are Wednesday through Monday, 10am to 3:30pm (gates close and lock at 3:30). Guided tours through the lighthouse are offered April through October, Wednesday through Monday.
How to Get There. Traveling along Highway 101, go 9 miles north of Port Orford and turn west onto Cape Blanco Road (look for signs that read Cape Blanco State Park). Travel 6 miles to the lighthouse.
Click here for local lodging options, and be sure to contact the Coos Bay – North Bend Visitor & Convention Bureau and request your FREE visitor’s packet ! Here are some other adventures and trip ideas to consider during your visit to Oregon’s Adventure Coast: Coos Bay, North Bend, Charleston.