The historic Yaquina Head Lighthouse is Oregon’s tallest and second oldest continuously operating lighthouse, having been built in 1872. The tower is 93 feet high, and can be seen by ships as far as nineteen miles away.
Visitors climb 110 steps to the top of the lighthouse, crossing a marble floor on the way to the spiral staircase. At the top, a lens magnifies a 1000 watt theatrical lamp which generates over 130,000 candlepower.
Yaquina Head is very popular with tourists, and for good reason. At the base of the lighthouse is the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. One of the top wildlife and tide pool areas on the Pacific Coast, the natural area identifies several ‘watchable wildlife’ viewpoints where you can observe seals, whales and seabirds.
The tremendous numbers of cormorants, gulls and other sea birds attract predators as well. In spring, it is common to see eagles and falcons. In fall, look for northern harriers and red-tailed hawks. Peregrines can be spotted near Colony Rock in winter.
Cobble Beach, the primary tide pool area, is very large and has a diverse representation of intertidal life. It is important to remember that this is a protected natural area, so the marine life is not to be disturbed. If you walk slowly along the edge of the pools at low tide, you will see sea urchins, crabs, anemones, sea cucumbers, and starfish. Be careful. The rocks are extremely slippery.
Yaquina Head Lighthouse is just north of Newport, the home to the Oregon Coast Aquarium. ‘Passages of the Deep’ is a 200-foot long undersea tunnel that winds through three different ocean habitats. Large windows are built into the floor of the tunnel, giving visitors up close views of sharks, rays and eels.
'Swampland' is a relatively new exhibit where colorful murals create a terrific backdrop for reptiles, amphibians, fish, birds and mammals. One of the wetlands' most popular inhabitants is Little Al, a small alligator who has been in captivity since birth and loves being a 'lap-gator'.
This 40,000 square foot aquarium is probably best known for being the rehabilitation site for Keiko the Killer Whale, star of the Free Willy movies. Keiko was here for almost three years before being moved back to the wild in the North Atlantic. He died in December of 2003 after catching pneumonia.