Newport to Florence
In Newport, 70 miles to the south, there are two lighthouses.
The first one, built in 1871 at Yaquina Bay, was blocked by headlands so that ships approaching from
the north couldn’t see the light. But until 1873, when a new lighthouse was built at Yaquina Head, a family of
11 lived in the cozy keeper’s house, where the lighthouse tower was actually on the roof.
The Yaquina Bay Lighthouse was walking distance from Newport’s bayfront shops,
while Yaquina Head Lighthouse, at the tip of a mile-long headland, was quite remote. Today, the drive to the 93-foot tower
from Highway 101 passes through the gorgeous 100-acre Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, which includes one of the four
Marine Gardens in Oregon. (The kids will love the world’s only man-made tidepools in Quarry Cove, accessible to all.)
With two lighthouses to tour, a working waterfront with fun shops and great seafood restaurants (don’t miss Mo’s!),
the famous Oregon Coast Aquarium (former home of Keiko the whale) and an award-winning microbrewery (Rogue Ales),
you’ll want to linger in Newport for at least a day.
But there are more lovely lighthouses to see. About 36 miles south, just north of Florence,
is one of the loveliest —Heceta Head.
The keeper’s house, high on a hill overlooking the beach,
is a bed and breakfast where overnight guests occupy the top floor and daytime visitors can tour
the rest of the fully furnished late-19th-century home. A path from the house leads up the hill to where
the 56-foot lighthouse stands sentinel atop a 205-foot cliff.
Here’s a tip for photographers: the best view of Heceta Head is from Sea Lion Caves, on a bluff a few miles
to the south. After admiring all the sea lions lolling on the rocks, climb the stairs to the lookout.
Across the water stands the lighthouse in a postcard-perfect view.
Yaquina Head has the tallest tower on the Oregon Coast, and stands at 162 feet above sea level. This is the only lighthouse in Oregon with a marble floor. Yaquina Head is open to the public, and surrounded by the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area