YAQUINA HEAD OUTSTANDING NATURAL AREA
The lights have been on at Yaquina Head Lighthouse since 1873, but the basalt headland it sits on is much more than a navigational aid for ships. Hike to end of the headland and in spring and summer you can see tens of thousands of nesting Common Murres and other seabirds, including Brandt's and Pelagic Cormorants and Pigeon Guillemots. And soaring above the colonies are Bald Eagles taking advantage of the crowded conditions.
Beyond the islands you can watch gray whales on their annual migrations from Mexico to Alaska. Descend the stairs to Cobble Beach at low tide and you can explore tidal pools and their inhabitants - purple shore crabs, giant green anemones, sea stars and sea urchins. Yaquina Head also has an interpretive center and store where you can learn more about both the cultural and natural history of the site.
Oregon Coast Aquarium - Marine life and interpretive exhibits.
Hatfield Marine Science Center - Interpretive exhibits and a nature trail behind the center.
Yaquina Bay Lighthouse - Bird the bay and explore a second historic lighthouse.
And if you like microbrews, you can end the day at Rogue Brewer's On the Bay.
WHERE TO STAY
North of Yaquina Head, Beverly Beach State Park offers campsites and yurts and access to a forest hike along Spencer Creek. You can also stay in either a campsite or yurt at South Beach State Park. Interpretive guides at the park lead kayak trips through freshwater marshes from July through Labor Day. To reserve a spot on a tour, call 1 (541) 563-6413. If you love books as well as birds and also like a softer bed, you can stay in the Mark Twain, Emily Dickinson or Alice Walker room at The Sylvia Beach Hotel. Private guest rooms and vacation homes are other options if you don't want to stay in a traditional motel.
Cover image of Purple Shore Crab and images of Bald Eagle and murre colony copyright Brenda Moseley/soaringseal.com. Photograph of Yaquina Head Lighthouse copyright Steven Holt/soaringseal.com.