Sea Lion Caves - Florence

• Identified by Guinness Book of World Records as America's largest sea cave
• Sea Lions Caves are the natural seasonal home to Steller (Northern) sea lions

PhotographingWildlife Viewing

Privately owned since 1932, the wildlife preserve Sea Lion Caves is a part of the Cape Perpetua Marine Reserve. Made up of basalt rock, the grotto has the height of a 12-story building (125-foot) and the floor size of a football field (two acres).

The world's largest caves are located 10 miles north of Florence and 14 miles south of Yachats on Highway US-101. The cave is accessible by a steep path from the visitor center and the elevator. On the way to the elevator, you'll enjoy a fantastic panorama of the ocean, the picturesque Heceta Head Lighthouse, and the dynamic spectacle of sea lions swimming in the surf. Additionally, during the winter season, migrating whales enhance the coastal scenery.

The elevator transports visitors to the grotto, a natural seasonal haven for Steller (Northern) sea lions, where they can be observed engaging in various activities, from roaring and fighting to swimming or simply lounging on the rocks. Sea lions can be viewed behind a wire fence in the huge grotto.

The grotto's walls are covered with lichens, algae, and minerals that stain the surfaces green, pink, purple, and red.

The colony of animals uses this cave as a shelter during the winter months. They move to rock ledges outside of the cave in spring and summer. So, if you want to find sea lions in the grotto, the best times for visiting are the late fall and winter months.

When inside the grotto, you'll find the skeleton and bones of ancient sea lions. Interpretive displays and a short video about the cave and its animals are available. Flash photography is not allowed in the grotto.

Sea Lion Caves - Florence

Sea Lion Caves

Sea Lion Caves

Sea Lion Caves - Florence

Camping, Lodging & Vacation Rentals at Sea Lion Caves

For those seeking camping options near Sea Lion Caves, the closest campground is located 3 miles north at Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park. This campground offers a diverse range of camping options for visitors including RV and tent sites, yurts, and a hiker/biker camp.

Alternatively, if you prefer more affordable lodging and vacation rentals, the coastal towns of Florence and Yachats are conveniently located just a few miles away.

Lodging in Florence

Affordable vacation rentals for short and long term stay in Florence

Lodging in Yachats

Affordable vacation rentals for short and long term stay in Yachats

Sea Lion Caves Inhabitants

Sea Lion Caves is home to a diverse array of wildlife, with the main inhabitants being Steller (Northern) Sea Lions. These caves serve as their natural seasonal habitat, making it the sole known mainland residence for hundreds of these majestic animals.

Steller Sea Lions or Northern Sea Lions

Steller or Northern Sea Lions, the largest species within the eared seal family, exhibit impressive physical characteristics. Mature males can weigh up to a staggering 2,400 pounds (over 1,000 kilograms) and measure around 10 feet (3 meters) in length. Females are slightly smaller, weighing approximately 700 pounds (317 kilograms) and measuring 7-8 feet (2-2.4 meters) in length. Their distinctive yellowish-brown coloration is complemented by dark brown flippers, and they emit a deep, resonant roar. Notably, sea lions have visible ear flaps and possess the ability to turn their hind flippers under their bodies, enabling them to walk.

Steller Sea Lions are highly polygamous, with males mating with 15-30 females during the breeding season. Dominant males, or bulls, engage in fierce battles to secure the best territories. These sea lions are summer breeders, with females typically giving birth to a single pup each year and nursing them for up to three years.

California Sea Lions & Harbor Seals

In addition to Steller Sea Lions, Sea Lion Caves also host a few California Sea Lions and harbor seals.

Sea Birds

The high vault of the cavern provides a resting area for various seabirds. Among the avian residents are three types of gulls—western, herring, and California gulls. Additionally, visitors may spot cormorants, pigeon guillemots, grouse, tufted puffins, quail, and various other seabird species.


Sea Lion Caves | Facts

Identified by Guinness Book of World Records as America's largest sea cave

Region: Central Oregon Coast • USA
Open: 363 days a year (except Thanksgiving & Christmas) from 9 am to 4 pm
Service: Parking (including RV & Trailers), gift shop, interpretive displays, video.
Day-use fees: Yes

Discovered: 1880
Opened to the public: 1932
Grotto Height: 125 ft (38 m)
Grotto Acreage: 2 acres (0.81 ha)

Adventures Nearby

Directions to Sea Lion Caves

From Florence, drive 10 miles north via Highway 101.

From Yachats, follow about 15 miles south along Highway 101.

Phone: 541-547-3111
Address: 91560 US-101, Florence, Oregon 97439

Get Google Maps Directions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.