Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area (ONA) is a 0.2 square mile BLM property that features tide pools teeming with life and many other facilities that make it a premier destination for outdoor recreation and sightseeing enthusiasts. Located 3.5 miles north of Newport, Oregon, this ONA sits on the shore of the Pacific Ocean and can be easily accessed via US Highway 101.
This ONA is home to the highest lighthouse in Oregon, at 93 feet. First lit in 1873, this lighthouse has provided guidance to ships and navigators on the west coast for a long time, and still does till date.
There are plenty of things to do and places to visit at Yaquina Head ONA. Visitors that come along with their binoculars enjoy amazing whale watching and bird viewing experiences. With good hiking boots, guests also stroll on the short hikes that lead to the top of Salal and Communications Hills. The Interpretive Center, Yaquina Head Lighthouse, Quarry Cove, and Cobble Beach are popular destinations within the BLM park that you have to experience for yourself.
Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area lies 3.5 miles north of Newport, off Highway 101 on the central coast of Oregon. Access to this BLM property in Oregon is easy, thanks to its proximity to Newport. If you’re driving to Yaquina Head ONA along US Highway 101, at about 0.5 miles past the Newport City Limit sign, turn right onto Lighthouse Drive, from which you’ll reach the park. Signs are provided on the highway to help point visitors to Yaquina Head. Access to the park from the south along US Highway 101 is also straightforward, as Lighthouse Drive is the same access point to use.
Parking spaces are provided for cars and other vehicles at and around the ONA for visitors to conveniently park before setting about on their adventure through the BLM property’s areas.
No direct public transportation services are available to the ONA, so all visitors should come in their personal vehicles or find recreational vehicle services for rent. Equipment rental services are available at Newport for guests to pursue RV and trailer camping interests nearby.
South Beach State Park offers opportunities for tent and RV camping within its pet-friendly campground. There are 325 campsites in the campground, 60 of which are tent-only campsites. 27 sites are dedicated for yurts, while three group tent camping areas are provided. Campsites are available for hikers and bikers too.
Amenities in the campground include flush toilets, hot showers, dump station, as well as full hookups for RVs. The RV length limit at the campground is 56 feet.
Recreational activities available here include fishing, boating, crabbing, beachcombing, and surfing.
Reservations are accepted for the campsites and all campers are welcome.
Animal enthusiasts can choose between various activities to enjoy at Yaquina Head ONA. For those that fancy whale watching, there are resident gray whales that can be seen all year-round. The best time to sight these creatures, however, is from December to April when they migrate.
Bird watchers enjoy watching peregrine falcons as well as thousands of seabirds as they raise their young ones in the area. Between late spring and mid-summer, chicks are often visible.
Ensure you come along with your binoculars for an enhanced viewing experience.
As soon as you arrive at Yaquina Head ONA, make up your mind to visit the Interpretive Center. This visitor center in the BLM park features lots of well-managed and updated exhibits that describe the marine life in the area, as well as the local history and life of the inhabitants of the Yaquina Head lighthouse.
What’s more, rangers are available to offer assistance to visitors enthusiastic about learning about and navigating through Yaquina Head. In addition, an interpretive store offers postcards and maps.
Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area is home to the tallest lighthouse in Oregon – the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. Standing at 93 feet, this crown jewel of the ONA was first lit in August 1873.
The lighthouse is open to public tours, available on a first-come, first-served basis, and has an identifying light characteristic - 2 seconds on, 2 seconds off, 2 seconds on, and 14 seconds off. The lighthouse has been used as the setting for a number of movies and television shows.
Quarry Cove is one of the attractive spots at Yaquina Head ONA that visitors love to see. This site, which was remade into an intertidal area in the early 1990s, used to be an old rock quarry.
Viewpoints above the quarry are accessible by all visitors in the BLM area via a paved pathway from the parking lot. Guests that wish to take their adventure one step further can scramble on the rocks jutting out into the ocean.during low tides
A visit to Cobble Beach offers visitors diverse recreational opportunities, ranging from marine life observation, ocean views, and the chance to learn about the flora in the park’s waters. When the waves roll in at the beach, millions of round basalt rocks produce an applause-like sound that’s a delight to visitors.
The best way to enjoy this is to have these stones underfoot as the tides roll in. These activities are recommended only during low tides. If you catch a glimpse of the amazing plants and animals in the tide pool and have questions about them, rangers are on hand to provide answers.
Hiking enthusiasts can stretch their legs and take casual strolls along the trails that lead to the top of Salal Hill and Communications Hill. The 0.6-mile round-trip hike to Salal Hill, which sits directly above the Interpretive Center, is more than worth it because you’ll get amazing views of the entire Yaquina Head, surrounding coves, and the lighthouse and Agate Beach.
Another interesting hiking opportunity at Yaquina Head ONA takes hikers to Communications Hill, where the US Coast Guard maintains communication equipment.