While staying at an Airbnb in Beaverton, Oregon in Feb of 2022 we decided to take a short trip west to visit the Tillamook Creamery and the Tillamook Air Museum. Both were interesting but we also wanted to see the ocean again. We drove along the coast for a while and ended up walking around the Cape Meares area. It was a cool and windy day, not surprising that it was in February, but it was a nice day to take a little walk and explore the area and see the lighthouse.
For a note of history, the Cape Meares lighthouse is the shortest on the Oregon coast at 38 feet. However, it does have a kerosene-powered Fresnel lens which was first lit on January 1, 1890, and was the first and most powerful lens of the day. It produced 18,000 candlepower and the bullseye lens produced 160,000 candlepower which mariners could spot the distinctive red-and-white flashes from more than 21 miles away.
While you can’t tour the lighthouse anymore, they state it is to protect the Fresnel lens, you can still get close and can check out the gift shop when it is open. A paved 0.2-mile path leads from the main parking area to the lighthouse, passing many viewpoints and interpretive panels along the way.
If you happen to be visiting during the spring or summer, usually April through July, you may see many types of seabirds like common murres, pelagic and Brandt’s cormorants, and pigeon guillemots. If you are a lucky person, and in the area, during December you might be able to see migrating gray whales or other marine mammals such as sea lions, dolphins, and porpoise.
Also make sure to take the 0.1-mile path from the main parking lot to the unusually shaped “Octopus Tree,” named for its thick, sprawling limbs. From a turnoff at the park entrance, a 0.8-mile trail heads north through a forest of old-growth spruce that’s part of a National Wildlife Refuge. Take the .25-mile spur trail to the largest Sitka spruce tree in Oregon.
This Sitka Spruce is one of the largest trees of any species currently known in Oregon. In 2008 it measured at “only” 144 feet tall with a broken top, but over 15 feet in diameter, and 48 feet in circumference. With an estimate of being between 750-800 years old, it’s not surprising that the top was broken due to the hundreds of storms and 100-mile winds it has seen through the years.
We had a wonderful time walking around Cape Meares scenic viewpoint and taking in the majestic beauty of the area and the Pacific Ocean. I really miss that living here in Colorado, but it was refreshing to see it again, even if it was a cool and cloudy day on the coast (as you can see from my crazy hair, lol). We hope to be able to return to this area on a future trip and maybe check out the gift shop. I have a friend that loves lighthouses and would enjoy a little souvenir, lol. Here is a link to their website if you want to learn more about the area or plan your own trip. You will not be disappointed. Have you been here? If so, please drop a line and share your story or pictures. Happy travels.
Cape Meares Scenic Viewpoint Visitors Infomation
3500 Cape Meares Loop, Tillamook, OR 97141
Daily 24 hours
During the summer the lighthouse is open daily from 11 am – 5 pm
Hwy 131 – As you are driving south on Hwy 101, turn right onto Hwy 131, previously Third St. Travel through the town of Netarts and continue on to Oceanside. Keep to the right as you near Oceanside and continue on Cape Meares Loop for 2 miles to the Lighthouse. Watch for signage along the way!
The Parking lot and grounds and the lower level of the Lighthouse are all Handicap Accessible…however, the upper levels of the lighthouse, because of the nature of how they are constructed involve the use of a narrow spiral staircase which is NOT accessible.
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