• Cape Meares Lighthouse is the shortest and the northernmost light station on the Oregon Coast
The northernmost light station in Oregon, Cape Meares Lighthouse sits on the top of a basalt outcropping that juts a half-mile into the ocean just ten miles northwest of Tillamook. Both, the cape and lighthouse were named after Captian John Meares, a British explorer who sailed along the Northwest Coast in 1788.
Standing 217 feet above sea level, the tower is just 38 feet high, making it the shortest one on the Oregon Coast. The station was completed in 1890 and operated until 1963. The beacon was mounted a few feet away on a concrete structure sending beams into the night until it was discontinued.
The lighthouse was leased to Tillamook County and, later, in 1968, the Oregon State Parks Department took the property lease and, finally, initiated the largest renovation. In 1980, the light station was open for visitors.
Unfortunately, over the years the lighthouse became a subject of vandalism with the most recent incident in 2010. Two drunk Oceanside men opened fire at the lighthouse causing damage that has been estimated at around $500,000. They were later arrested and got sentenced to three separate 16-day jail terms over three years. Each separate term started on the 27th of December, the date when the vandalism took place and ended on January 11th. According to the judge who made the unusual ruling, it should be a reminder of those men’s misdeeds. In addition to the jail sentence, vandals must pay $100,000 compensation for damage coverage.
The lighthouse is a part of the 100-acre Cape Meares State Park and is surrounded by the 140-acre Cape Meares National Wildlife Refuge.
There are a few hiking trails in the park that total 3 miles. A 0.2-mile paved trail leads from the parking area to the lighthouse. This trail along the rich coastal vegetation features interpretive boards and breathtaking views of the boundless ocean. Another short trail provides access to the large unusually-shaped Sitka spruce, known as Octopus Tree.
Cape Meares Lighthouse | Facts
Tower Height: 38 feet (12 m)
Operation: Deactivated in 1963
Location: Cape Meares Scenic Viewpoint
Open: Year-round from 7 am to 7 pm
Cape Meares Lighthouse is located:
- 12 miles northwest of Tillamook
- 84 miles west of Portland
- 84 miles northwest of Salem.
- Take Highway OR-131 and travel 9 miles west to Cape Meares Loop
- Turn right onto Cape Meares Loop and follow 1.2 miles
- Continue onto Bayshore Drive for 1.4 miles to the park entrance on the left.