The Central Oregon Coast

waldport  020waldport  001Our second stop in Oregon was in the town of Waldport, on the Central Oregon Coast.

Best known for its beautiful bridge across Alsea Bay where the Alsea River meets the Pacific Ocean.waldport  002waldport  018

McKinley’s Marina and RV Park in Waldport, where we dry camped, has a lovely view of the Alsea River. And during most of our stay we were the only RV in the dry camping area.waldport  003

waldport  005The marina also has full hook up sites, all concrete, which may be good news during heavy rain periods, but not very scenic. But the place is sparkling clean and the showers are impeccable. And the dry camping was only $12/day woo-hoo!waldport  004

waldport  007So far during our journey north on the Oregon coast, the weather had been sunny, perfectly clear, and windy.  Then, a few days into our week in Waldport, the wind started to die down and it began to rain. Very interesting weather around here.


waldport  006But the good news was that Alsea Bay is designated as an “Important Bird Area” by the Audubon Society, so we saw lots of birds while sitting in Island Girl.  Including belted kingfisher, great blue heron, mallard ducks, osprey and some other birds we couldn’t identify.

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waldport  015The rain also brought out all of the beautiful green colors of this area.  waldport  034waldport  036waldport  037waldport  035

waldport  024waldport  021When the rain stopped, we visited more fabulous beaches. All of the beaches on this coast have some interesting driftwood and although the wind had diminished, there was evidence of it in the sand drifts and patterns everywhere.waldport  022waldport  023

waldport  029waldport  019waldport  031waldport  033There was one great beach after another, all with easy access and many with state parks attached.waldport  030waldport  032waldport  025

Coincidentally, years ago, we stopped in Waldport while driving the coast from Seattle to San Francisco for a friend’s wedding. We didn’t have an RV then, so we stayed in a gorgeous  bed & breakfast, the Cliff House Bed and Breakfast. And it’s still there, perched on a cliff by the sea, as its name implies. Nice!

waldport  043North of Waldport, Newport is the “largest” nearby town. We took a short tour of the charming town.waldport  042waldport  040waldport  038waldport  039

waldport  044waldport  041There are lots of cool murals, an art deco bridge and historic Nye Beach, an artsy little community. And lots of fishing boats.  Newport was selected as the new home to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) Pacific Marine Operations Center in 2011.

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Yaquina Bay Lightstation

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Yaquina Head Lightstation

The lighthouse keeper and his wife

Newport also has two great lighthouses that we visited.

Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, first lit in 1871 is the only existing wooden lighthouse in Oregon and a charming building.

This lighthouse was built because the port at Yaquina Bay was the most populated among the West coast between San Francisco and Puget Sound.  But in order to deal with the continuing increase in maritime traffic, another taller lighthouse was built two years later on Yaquina Head, a more prominent headland just north of Yaquina Bay.

Because of that, Yaquina Bay’s light was extinguished only three years after it was first lit.

Since then, the lighthouse was used at different times by various groups including the U.S. Corps of Engineers and Coast Guard. but it also was abandoned for long periods of time and evaded demolition more than once.

Then, in 1974, the lighthouse was restored, and, in 1996 a modern lens was lit and the lighthouse became a private aid to navigation.

South of Waldport, we also visited Heceta Head Lighthouse, with the most powerful light on the Oregon Coast.  Its light (the subject of our header photograph) can be seen up to 21 miles out to sea.waldport  063

waldport  062The Heceta Head Lighthouse sits on a stunning spot and is understandably said to be the most photographed lighthouse on the Oregon Coast.  There is a beautiful beach with tide pools and a nice view of the lighthouse at the base of the hill.waldport  057waldport  065waldport  058waldport  059

The lighthouse’s first-order Fresnel lens was first lit in 1894.  The light was extinguished on several occasions for repairs and the lighthouse was closed in 2011 for two years for extensive renovation. The work included removing cement stucco that had been added and uncovering windows that were boarded, both in order to air out the structure.  The light was lit once again in 2013.

Another couple of interesting tidbits: the lightkeepers house is now a bed and breakfast which is supposedly haunted, and the lighthouse’s lens is the only active Fresnel lens in the United States made in England, not France.waldport  061

waldport  064Heceta Head Lighthouse was transferred to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department in 1991 and has several trails within this spectacular setting.waldport  067waldport  068waldport  060

One of the trails is right next to the lighthouse and climbs up to a spot with an eye-level view of the light and further for more beautiful ocean views.

Across from the lighthouse on an enormous rock is a huge colony of nesting common murres. And Steller sea lions on some other rocks.  Several volunteers provided scopes to give visitors a close up view.  Love those volunteers!waldport  102

waldport  071waldport  078Just south of the lighthouse is the town of Florence, where our new friends Leigh and Brian happened to be staying. So once again we got together for dinner and drinks and walked their adorable dog, Curtis, afterwards. We have no photos of that evening (or Curtis!), we were too busy having more good times.

On our way home it was a foggy rainy evening and we were treated to the spectacular sight of the lighthouse faithfully performing its duty and lighting the way for mariners.  So awesome!  waldport  075waldport  077waldport  070waldport  074waldport  072

waldport  079When we weren’t checking out lighthouses, walking the beaches, hiking, or spending time with new friends, we went kayaking. It’s always fun to break out our kayaks, Fuego and Caribe.waldport  089

waldport  087The Beaver Creek State Natural Area protects about 400 miles of freshwater marsh and uplands. Beaver Creek enters the ocean at Ona Beach State Park, where we put in for a couple of kayaking trips on two different days.waldport  100

waldport  086These were easy, quiet paddles for a couple of miles into the tranquil natural area, and each kayak trip we only encountered a couple of other paddlers.waldport  097waldport  088waldport  095waldport  101waldport  092waldport  094

waldport  098But we did encounter lots of wildlife: a beaver swimming with a branch in his mouth, Steller’s jay, white-crowned sparrows and other songbirds, several bald eagles – one carrying nesting materials, eel-like fish (???), a mother duck with ducklings, great blue heron and an osprey nest with babies. This small area is also rich in plant life.

Beaver building … as they always do

Beaver building … as they always do

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Next up, our visit to yet another lighthouse and its surrounding park, the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area.

~ Brendawaldport  073

22 thoughts on “The Central Oregon Coast

  1. It was the month of May when we were at the Oregon Coast, and at that time it was rain that kept us inside. I think June is a better month since you are able to explore and kayak too!
    As always, Hector’s photography brings to life all your adventures.

    • Well, actually it’s been raining on and off the past two weeks, but we were really lucky our first couple of weeks. Kayaking was special.

  2. Wow! Gorgeous! I especially love the dark, vivid colors that the rain brings. So nurturing and peaceful. Thanks so much for the continuing education, inspiration, and beautiful creativity. You’re living the high life and I’m so grateful, as always, for bringing me along! ; )

  3. What incredible shots you got! The lighthouse in the fog and your kayak trip are wonderful. That is exactly the type of place I’d love to kayak if we ever buy one.

    It was fun meeting you two last night!


    • It was wonderful to meet both of you. I love the really remote places to kayak, although apparently during salmon season Ona Beach is quite crowded – something to avoid. Maybe we’ll see you in SD in the winter.

  4. Not only are the places you visit always so well described that one feels that you’ve been there, but the photography is outstanding… thank you for another tour of somewhere I will never get to…

    • Thanks, we’re about to visit Dan and Kaye, who live in Portland. Don’t know if you remember Dan from Atlanta. We’re really enjoying Oregon.

  5. Wonderful tour! I love the B&W photo on the beach. Gorgeous! I love the green moss and the brilliant color. No one ever photographs the lighthouse at night. Those were amazing photo! Glad you are having some sunny days:)

    • Thanks, Pam. We’ve had every different type of weather (except snow) so far, but as you said, the rainy days are beautiful. The lighthouse at night was such a great surprise, and Hector was able to capture it.

  6. I’m lovin’ Hecotr’s Papa Hemmingway look!! 🙂 As ever, lovely photos and accompanying narrative. TY for keeping us with you. Godspeed, Friends. xo

    • He grew that beard for me, nice husband that he is. Thank you, and we’ll see you in September, hopefully.

  7. We have never been to Waldport but loved Newport. There was nothing we didn’t love about the Oregon coast, her many moods and the lovely lighthouses. Not bad to have cooler weather when so much of the rest of the country is sweltering. Hector’s photography is spectacular and the lighthouse photos at night are magnificent!

    • Thank you, we too have enjoyed all of the places we’ve visited on the Oregon coast. The lighthouse at night was really amazing.

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