Our second stop in Oregon was in the town of Waldport, on the Central Oregon Coast.
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.
The 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!
So 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.
But 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.
When 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.
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!
North of Waldport, Newport is the “largest” nearby town. We took a short tour of the charming town.
There 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.
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.
The 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.
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.
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!
Just 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.
The 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.
But 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.
Next up, our visit to yet another lighthouse and its surrounding park, the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area.