Until recently, the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse didn't get much respect. Built in 1871 on a pine-covered bluff at the mouth of Yaquina Bay, it only served briefly before it was replaced by a nearby lighthouse built on rocky Yaquina Head, a few miles to the north. The Yaquina Bay Lighthouse was decommissioned in 1874, just three years after it was built, and over the next century, fell into disrepair and tales of hauntings.
In the 1970s, local Newport residents banded together to restore the lighthouse, and open it to the public. Today, this mission is still carried forward by the Yaquina Lights organization. Their joint stewardship of the structure with Oregon State Parks makes it a unique gem on the Oregon Coast. It is Oregon's oldest lighthouse.
The structure is in stunning condition - largely a reflection of the efforts made by volunteers to save it from ruin. The white, wood clapboard exterior is unusual for West Coast lighthouses, and the distinctive red light tower is located immediately above the living quarters, another unique design. The lighthouse continues to operate as a private beacon for ships entering Yaquina Bay.
The lighthouse grounds are now contained in Yaquina Bay State Park, which includes the lighthouse, surrounding bluff and adjacent dunes and beaches along the north side of the Yaquina River bar. The bluff is also home to the spectacular Yaquina Bay Bridge, and there are several viewpoints in the park that capture this lovely 1930s span.
Your tour of Yaquina Bay Lighthouse should allow for 1-2 hours, and could include a picnic on the park grounds, which include tables, play areas and restrooms. The park also has access to ocean beaches. The lighthouse and park are located at the north end of the Yaquina Bay Bridge, on U.S. Highway 101 in the City of Newport. A loop drive through the park connects to Elizabeth Street on the north. Parking is available at many spots along the loop.
There are many activities for visitors to the Newport area, including visits to the Oregon Coast Aquarium, Historic Newport Bayfront, Yaquina Head and many other attractions along the central Oregon Coast. See the links page for more information on these activities.
The Oregon Coast is famous for its foul weather, and you should always be prepared for cool, wet conditions. In the winter, Pacific storms make for a spectacular display (when viewed from a cozy window, that is...), with cool, calm weather between fronts. In the fall and spring, the weather is often at its best, with mild temperatures and regular periods of sunny, mild weather.
However, summer often brings cold, foggy weather along the coastline, with summer heat just a few miles inland from the beaches. Sweaters and sweatshirts are always in season on the Oregon Coast! Fortunately, shops up and down the coast are always stocked with warm outerwear for unsuspecting tourists.
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Unless otherwise credited, photos on this site are ©Tom Kloster 2001, and may not be used without permission