“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.

lighthouse iconLove lighthouses?
Check out the Oregon Coast Lighthouse Roundup.

Yaquina Head Lighthouse

Extended Wheels:

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.)

Walk Details for Yaquina Head Lighthouse
Terrain: Smooth pavement and sidewalk, weathered decking. Slight incline to the lighthouse deck. Deck has three stairs with railing to an upper level. You can also reach the upper level via a ramp when approaching from the south side of the lighthouse.
Seating: Two resting spots along the path. The lighthouse deck has no seating.
Fee: Day pass or recreation pass
Restrooms: On west end of parking lot
Directions: Follow the entry road into the park. When we visited, cones herded us to the Interpretive Center parking lot. You can choose to stop, or enter and then exit the parking lot to continue on the road to the looped parking area within view of the lighthouse. On the path to the lighthouse, stay to the left when you reach the Y in order to stop at the second resting spot. There are no resting spots on the right side of the Y or at the viewing deck.

North viewpoint

25 Steps Wheels:

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.

Walk Details for North viewpoint
Terrain: Pavement. Flat except for the curb from the parking lot.
Seating: Two benches with backs.
Fee: Day pass or recreation pass
Restrooms: On west end of parking lot
Directions: The viewpoint is on the north side of the parking area for the lighthouse.

Quarry Cove overlook

150 Steps Wheels:

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.

Walk Details for Quarry Cove overlook
Terrain: Sidewalk and pavement decline to the overlook. Ten stairs with handrails can be used to shorten the journey.
Seating: Four benches on the right and two on the left.
Fee: Day pass or recreation pass
Restrooms: In the parking lot.
Directions: The overlook is clearly marked at the parking lot. You have three choices: a wheelchair ramp (150 steps, green), sidewalk (steeper, 100 steps, orange), or via the stairs (closer to 50 steps, yellow). I took the ramp down and returned on the sidewalk.