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Cape Meares Lighthouse

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Cape Meares Lighthouse: Guiding Ships and Captivating Visitors

Perched atop a dramatic rocky promontory, overlooking the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean, the Cape Meares Lighthouse stands as a testament to Oregon’s rich maritime history. Despite its modest height of 38 feet, this lighthouse holds a powerful presence, drawing visitors from far and wide to witness its captivating beauty.

Named after Captain John Meares, the first European explorer to sail into Tillamook Bay, the Cape Meares Lighthouse has become an iconic landmark along the Oregon coast. Built in 1889, it holds the distinction of being the shortest lighthouse in the state. But don’t let its size fool you; it commands attention with its strategic location on a steep sea cliff, allowing its light to reach mariners far out at sea.

Prepare to be mesmerized by the breathtaking cliffside views of the Pacific that surround you as you walk along the forested path towards the Cape Meares Lighthouse, perched on a charming bluff overlooking the ocean. It’s a true gem, with the lighthouse itself being the cutest and smallest I’ve ever seen, adding to its irresistible charm.

The lighthouse owes much of its magnificence to its remarkable kerosene-powered lens. Made in Paris, France, the first-order Fresnel lens is an engineering marvel of its time. It was crafted with precision and shipped around Cape Horn before being transported up the rugged coast to Cape Meares. A wooden crane, ingeniously constructed from local timber, was used to haul the heavy lens up the cliff, ready to guide ships safely through treacherous waters.

Once illuminated on January 1, 1890, the Cape Meares Lighthouse became a beacon of hope for seafarers navigating the rugged Oregon coast. Its distinctive red-and-white flashes, visible from more than 21 miles away, provided crucial guidance, preventing countless shipwrecks and ensuring the safe passage of vessels along this treacherous stretch of coastline.

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To reach Cape Meares Lighthouse, visitors can follow a paved 0.2-mile path from the main parking area, which meanders through the park, offering breathtaking viewpoints and informative panels along the way. As you approach the lighthouse, the towering cliffs and crashing waves create a mesmerizing backdrop, heightening the sense of anticipation and excitement.

During your visit, take the time to explore the Cape Meares Lighthouse’s surroundings. The gift shop, located in the former workroom of the lighthouse, offers a treasure trove of maritime-themed items, allowing you to bring home a memento of your visit. Adjacent to Cape Meares Lighthouse, you’ll also discover the famous octopus tree — a majestic Sitka spruce with sprawling limbs resembling the arms of an octopus. These unique attractions add to the allure of Cape Meares Lighthouse and provide ample opportunities for memorable photographs and contemplative moments.

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For those interested in delving deeper into the Cape Meares Lighthouse’s history and experiencing its interior, tower tours are available. Although limited to five visitors per tour during open hours, no reservations are required (subject to change). Stepping inside the lighthouse, you’ll be transported back in time, imagining the keepers meticulously tending to the light, ensuring its continuous operation in the face of fierce coastal storms.

Cape Meares Lighthouse holds a special place in the hearts of Oregonians and visitors alike. It serves as a reminder of the maritime heritage that shaped the region and the tireless dedication of those who safeguarded seafarers. The lighthouse’s enduring presence, coupled with its breathtaking coastal setting, creates an ambiance of tranquility and reverence, inviting visitors to reflect on the power and beauty of the ocean.

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As you explore Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint where Cape Meares Lighthouse is located, don’t miss the opportunity to immerse yourself in the natural wonders that surround the lighthouse. Take a leisurely stroll along the park’s trails, where you’ll discover old-growth forests, sweeping ocean views, and the nesting sites of seabirds. From April through July, the cliffs and offshore rocks come alive with thousands of seabirds, including common murres, pelagic and Brandt’s cormorants, and pigeon guillemots. Peregrine falcons occasionally grace the cliffs with their presence during the spring nesting season, adding to the park’s vibrant wildlife. If you’re lucky, you might even spot migrating gray whales breaching the ocean’s surface as they make their way along the coastline.

Cape Meares Lighthouse, located just 10 miles west of Tillamook, Oregon, on the northern end of the Three Capes Scenic Route, offers a year-round escape into the natural wonders of the Oregon coast. Whether you’re a lighthouse enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply seeking a serene coastal experience, a visit to Cape Meares Lighthouse is sure to leave an indelible impression, reminding you of the power and beauty of this extraordinary place.

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There’s something truly enchanting about the Cape Meares Lighthouse, and it’s not just its historical significance. As you approach the lighthouse along the paved path, the salty breeze dances through the air, the sound of crashing waves serenades your ears, and the panoramic ocean views take your breath away. It’s a sensory journey that immerses you in the coastal magic of Oregon.

Standing at the base of the lighthouse, you can’t help but marvel at the architectural beauty of the structure. Its classic white exterior, adorned with red accents, stands in stark contrast to the rugged cliffs and deep blue waters. The lighthouse’s charming simplicity is a testament to the craftsmanship and attention to detail of its builders.

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Inside the lighthouse, you’ll find a carefully preserved glimpse into its operational history. Ascend the spiral staircase, feel the coolness of the weathered steps beneath your feet, and emerge into the lantern room. Here, you’ll encounter the mesmerizing first-order Fresnel lens, a captivating sight that has guided countless ships to safety. As the sunlight filters through the prisms of the lens, casting a kaleidoscope of colors around the room, you can’t help but appreciate the artistry and ingenuity that went into its creation.

To enhance your experience and deepen your understanding of the park’s natural and cultural heritage, take advantage of the interpretive panels scattered throughout the area. These informative displays offer insights into the wildlife, geological features, and human history that shape Cape Meares. They provide a valuable opportunity to learn about the delicate ecosystem and the efforts undertaken to preserve it for future generations.

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As you conclude your visit to Cape Meares Lighthouse, don’t forget to stop by the gift shop, where you’ll find a delightful array of lighthouse-themed souvenirs, sea-inspired artwork, and books that allow you to continue your exploration of the Oregon coast from the comfort of your own home.

Cape Meares Lighthouse and the surrounding state scenic viewpoint are a testament to the enduring allure of the Oregon coast. With its picturesque lighthouse, captivating trails, and abundant wildlife, it’s a place where history, nature, and beauty intertwine. So, whether you’re a lighthouse enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply seeking a peaceful escape, let Cape Meares Lighthouse welcome you with open arms and leave an indelible imprint on your heart.

Cape Meares Lighthouse Trails

When it comes to hiking, Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint offers a variety of trails that cater to all levels of outdoor enthusiasts. Lace up your hiking boots, grab your water bottle, and get ready to embark on a captivating adventure through the park’s diverse landscapes.

For a short but incredibly rewarding hike, the Big Spruce Trail awaits. This enchanting 0.1-mile out-and-back trail takes you through a forest of ancient spruce trees, some of which are considered champions of their species. As you wander along the well-maintained path, the towering trees create a lush canopy overhead, providing shade and serenity. The sight of these majestic giants, with their thick trunks and sprawling branches, evokes a sense of awe and reverence for the natural world.

If you’re looking to explore a longer trail that showcases the stunning coastal scenery, the Cape Meares Beach Trail, a segment of the Oregon Coast Trail, is a perfect choice. This 1.5-mile out-and-back trail (3 miles round trip) takes you through spectacular old-growth forests and down to the sandy beach. As you meander along the trail, be prepared to encounter breathtaking vistas, where the vastness of the Pacific Ocean unfolds before your eyes. The rhythmic sound of crashing waves and the fresh ocean breeze invigorate your senses, creating a truly immersive coastal experience.

For those seeking a shorter loop trail that encompasses both natural beauty and historical landmarks, the Lighthouse Trail is a must. This 0.3-mile loop trail begins at the Sallie Jacobson Interpretive kiosk, located on the west side of the main parking area. As you follow the trail, award-winning interpretive panels guide you along the cape, providing insights into the rich wildlife and fascinating history of Cape Meares Lighthouse. Take your time to admire the sweeping viewpoints that offer panoramic vistas of the rugged coastline and the mesmerizing lighthouse perched atop the cliff. The paved trail with some elevation change ensures a comfortable and enjoyable hike for all.

If you’re particularly intrigued by the unique wonders of nature, the Octopus Tree Trail will captivate your imagination. This 0.1-mile out-and-back trail begins near the restrooms on the east side of the main parking area. As you wind your way through the beautiful forest, you’ll soon encounter the marvelously unique Sitka spruce known as the Octopus Tree. Its short, wide trunk and multiple limbs branching out like the arms of an octopus make it a sight to behold. Take a moment to appreciate the intricate patterns of nature and enjoy the panoramic views of the ocean and Three Arch Rocks National Wildlife Refuge before retracing your steps.

Regardless of which trail you choose, be sure to wear comfortable hiking shoes, carry a map or guidebook, and pack essentials such as water, snacks, and sunscreen. Remember to practice Leave No Trace principles, respecting the park’s delicate ecosystem and leaving it as pristine as you found it.

As you traverse the trails of Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint, each step brings you closer to the heart of the Oregon coast’s natural beauty. Immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and scents of the coastal wilderness, allowing the serenity of the surroundings to rejuvenate your spirit. Whether you’re seeking solitude, adventure, or a deeper connection with nature, these trails offer an invitation to explore and discover the untamed wonders of Cape Meares.

What’s Nearby Cape Meares Lighthouse

Beyond the enchanting beauty of Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint and its iconic lighthouse, the surrounding area offers a wealth of attractions and destinations to explore. Just a short drive away, the coastal village of Oceanside beckons with its pristine sandy beaches, charming beachfront cafes, and stunning views of the offshore sea stacks known as the Three Arch Rocks. Delight in leisurely beach walks, indulge in delectable seafood, or simply bask in the tranquility of this coastal gem at Oceanside Beach State Park.

Further along the coast, the Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area awaits with its dramatic landscapes and outdoor adventures. This rugged and picturesque destination offers towering sand dunes, stunning ocean vistas, and thrilling opportunities for hiking, surfing, and sandboarding. Explore the unique rock formations, such as the iconic Haystack Rock, and immerse yourself in the untamed beauty of Cape Kiwanda.

For those craving a taste of adventure, a visit to nearby Tillamook promises excitement at every turn. Discover the world-famous Tillamook Creamery, where you can take a behind-the-scenes tour, sample delicious cheeses, and savor creamy ice cream flavors. Dive into the region’s history at the Tillamook Air Museum, housed in a historic blimp hangar, or explore the Tillamook Forest Center, a captivating educational facility dedicated to showcasing the importance of forest ecosystems. Whether you’re seeking coastal charm, captivating attractions, or exhilarating outdoor experiences, the neighboring locations of Oceanside, Cape Kiwanda, and Tillamook offer delightful extensions to your Cape Meares adventure.

Cape Meares Lighthouse Parking Information

Finding your way to Cape Meares Lighthouse is a breeze, and ample parking awaits to welcome you. If you’re driving south on Hwy 101, simply turn right onto Hwy 131 (previously Third St.) and continue through the towns of Netarts and Oceanside. As you near Oceanside, keep to the right and follow Cape Meares Loop for approximately 2 miles until you reach the lighthouse. Along the way, keep an eye out for signage that guides you in the right direction. Once you arrive, you’ll find a spacious parking area at the main entrance, providing convenient access to all the park’s attractions. From there, embark on your exploration of the lighthouse, the scenic trails, and the breathtaking viewpoints. As you revel in the beauty of Cape Meares, rest assured that parking is hassle-free, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the natural wonders that await.

Further Reading

Cape Meares Lighthouse Photos

Check out Carefree Creative’s photos of Cape Meares Lighthouse

Cape Meares Lighthouse Address & Directions

Cape Meares Lighthouse, 3500 Cape Meares Loop, Tillamook, OR 97141

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