The link below lists some of the premier accessible access points in the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area just south of Yachats and in the greater Siuslaw National Forest.
Most of the oceanfront 804 Trail in Yachats is also accessible. The northern end of the 804 Trail that begins at the Smelt Sands State Wayside and continues north for three quarters of a mile is designed for wheelchair use. The Yachats 804 Trail is part of the Oregon Coast Trail system.
The Yachats shoreline is part of the North Marine Protected Area (MPA). The Cape Perpetua Marine Reserve with MPAs is the largest marine reserve network in Oregon.
Visitors here have opportunities for scenic and wildlife viewing, hiking, and guided outdoor, stewardship, and citizen science activities. A speakers series is offered in winter.
The region includes 18.8 square miles along the shore, 14.1 square miles of ocean habitat, and a reef complex that hosts diverse species of rockfish, including copper, vermillion, and quillback. It is adjacent to some of the most protected and outstanding old growth coastal rainforest, and is home to the Central Coast Marbled Murrelet Important Bird Area, as well as 15 seabird nesting colonies, including the Pacific’s largest mainland breeding colony of Brandt’s cormorants at Heceta Head. (Heceta Head is 14 miles south of Yachats.)
See ‘Day Use State Parks in Town’ listed below on this page for MPA points of access within Yachats. The Cape Perpetua Visitors Center is 3 miles south of downtown Yachats on US 101.
3 miles south of downtown Yachats
The Cape Perpetua Visitor Center includes a panoramic ocean view, a deck with viewing scopes, natural and cultural history exhibits, a theater with nature films, and a gift shop. Summer Ranger Forest to Sea Programs, Marine Reserve Education and Activities, and Guided Walks are scheduled here, as is a Saturday Speakers Series in winter and other seasonal programs, such as Spring and Winter Whale Watch.
The U.S. Forest Service maintains the Cape’s 26 miles of interconnected hiking trails through coastal mature and old growth rainforest, to breathtaking vistas, tidepools, and the beach. Trails range in length from a fraction of a mile to 10 miles, and from easy to difficult. The scenic area’s viewpoints and trails are open to the public year round. Some of the trails are wheelchair accessible, and one 6-mile loop trail is open for mountain biking.
Fees: $5/vehicle/day use fee or valid recreation pass or Oregon Coast Passport
Restrictions: Dogs must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet in the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area.
There are three (yes 3!) oceanfront day use state parks in Yachats, and no day use fees.
(Beach) ♦ YACHATS OCEAN ROAD STATE NATURAL SITE is located just south of downtown at the mouth of the Yachats River. Turn west off Hwy. 101 onto Yachats Ocean Road at the south end of the Yachats River Bridge. There are parking spaces and picnic tables along this rim road, and a wooden staircase down to the beach. At low tide, except in winter, you’ll find a wonderful sandy beach here, and often small tidepools. This is a great place to build a sandcastle, picnic, and with a little breeze – fly a kite. You may see heron fishing in the shallow section of the river, wild ducks floating under the bridge, an eagle or two, pelicans, and a variety of shore birds.
(Tidepools) ♦ YACHATS STATE RECREATION AREA is located at the west end of 2nd Street in downtown Yachats. This park offers a sometimes serene and sometimes wild view of the Yachats River as it meets the Pacific Ocean with Cape Perpetua as the backdrop. It’s a great place to park and watch waves and to spot gray whales spouting or seals playing in the surf. There is also a nice tidepools viewing platform here (check the tides), as well as a grassy lawn, resting benches, an historic marker, and picnic tables.
(Oceanfront Trail) ♦ SMELT SANDS STATE RECREATION SITE is located at the north end of town. Turn west off Hwy 101 at the Smelt Sands sign onto a lane that leads to the park/parking lot. The park has a small pebble beach near the entrance, and picnic tables and benches along a beautiful 3/4 mile stretch of the 804 Trail (accessible). At low tide, the north end of this trail, except in winter, connects by stairway to a 7-mile stretch of sandy beach that reaches all the way to the Alsea Bay at Waldport. The 804 Trail is above the tide line, so it may be walked any time of day. However, do not venture onto the tabletop basalt rock except at low tide, and then only with caution. Sneaker waves can happen, and they are formidable. Do not turn your back on the ocean. While picnicking, watching beautiful waves, or hiking along the 804 Trail, watch for whale spouts – you may count several! Most of the year we have grey whales here – and many more during the spring and winter migrations.
Explore a lush, coastal forest! Created by Yachats Youth and Family Activites Program (YYFAP) daycamp students, this Quest takes you on a hike through the Discovery Loop Trail at Cape Perpetua. (Approximately one hour)
Quest Books include 24 quests in Lincoln, Clatsop, Coos, Curry and Benton Counties. The books are $10 and are available at the Yachats Visitors Center.
This Quest features a choice of paths to follow, and takes explorers through a variety of coastal habitats. (Approximately 45 minutes)
Quest Books include 24 quests in Lincoln, Clatsop, Coos, Curry and Benton Counties. The books are $10 and are available at the Yachats Visitors Center.
Heceta Head Lighthouse signals to seafarers from atop a magnificent forested promontory just 14 miles south of Yachats. This working lighthouse, circa 1894, sits 205 ft above the ocean, and its beacon shines 21 miles out to sea, the strongest light on the coast. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the most photographed lighthouses in the world. The historic assistant light keeper’s house is a bed and breakfast. The elevation at Heceta Head reaches 1,000 ft. and is a nesting area for seabirds.
Free docent led programs and tours are offered at Heceta Head Lightstation year round, weather and staffing dependent.
LIGHTHOUSE INTERPRETIVE PROGRAMS: 11am-3pm daily
$5/vehicle/day use fee or valid OSP parking pass or Oregon Coast Passport
Visit the web site for lighthouse history and additional information.
Alsea Bay Bridge Interpretive Center
320 NW Hwy 101, Waldport OR 97394
8 mi N of Yachats
The Alsea Bay Bridge Interpretive Center, located at the base of the bridge in Waldport, is a marvelous center for learning about Oregon bridges. Small children may construct a wooden toy bridge here while adults and older youth view historic photos and other related exhibits.
Guided beach or dune rides, about 25 minutes south of Yachats. Reservations required.
Locations near Yachats for independent kayaking | paddling include the following:
Alsea River Water Trail – Waldport
Beaver Creek – Ona Beach, Seal Rock
Yaquina Bay – Newport | -and- | Yaquina River – Newport/Toledo
Siuslaw River and Siuslaw Estuary Water Trails – Florence
Watercraft rentals are available at paddle shops in Waldport, Newport, Florence, and at Honeyman State Park just south of Florence.
NORTH OF YACHATS:
PORT OF ALSEA / ALSEA RIVER WATER TRAIL – WALDPORT
The Alsea River Water Trail offers 10 river-miles, including the Alsea River, Drift Creek, and Lint Slough. Dockage and moorage is provided by Port of Alsea. Where/Directions: Port of Alsea is 8 miles N of Yachats; 16 mi S of Newport. At Waldport’s only stoplight (at the base of the Waldport Bridge on Hwy 101), turn E onto Hwy 34; continue 1.9 mi to Broadway; turn left on Broadway and proceed to the Port of Alsea docks.
BEAVER CREEK STATE NATURAL AREA / BRIAN BOOTH STATE PARK – ONA BEACH, SEAL ROCK
This is a 3-miles paddle that meanders up the Beaver Creek valley with views of the surrounding Sitka spruce and alder forested hills. Look for beaver, river otter, muskrat and nutria, Roosevelt elk, or black-tailed deer. Where/Directions: Beaver Creek is a 15-20 minute drive (16 miles) north of Yachats, with a launch area at Beaver Creek Rd and Hwy 101, across from Ona Beach.
YAQUINA BAY – NEWPORT | YAQUINA RIVER – NEWPORT/TOLEDO
Newport Bay is a 30-40 minute drive north of Yachats on Hwy 101. Toledo is east of Newport about 10 miles on Hwy 20. For launch sites, visit portofnewport.com and paddling.com.
SOUTH OF YACHATS:
SIUSLAW RIVER & ESTUARY WATER TRAILS – FLORENCE
The Siuslaw River Water Trail offers more than 30 river-miles of paddling opportunities, and there are dozens of coastal lakes and rivers to paddle and explore on the Siuslaw Estuary Water Trail. Florence is a 30-40 minute drive south of Yachats. For launch sites, see www.siuslaw.org/kayaking-canoeing/.
Beaver Creek Welcome Center
On Beaver Creek Road
1.2 miles east of Ona Beach
Seal Rock, OR 97376
Rangers at Brian Booth State Park lead 4-hour guided kayak tours (kayaks and equipment provided) at Beaver Creek State Natural Area between July 1 and Labor Day, with sign-up beginning June 1. Tours are from 8:00 am to 12:00 noon. The hours listed include check-in, instruction, 2.5 hours of paddling, and check out. To make a reservation visit the Beaver Creek website, linked below, or call 541-563-6413.
The Beaver Creek Welcome Center is a 15-20 minute drive north of Yachats. Travel 15 miles north on Hwy 101; at Ona Beach and Hwy 101, turn east onto Beaver Creek Rd. and continue east 1.2 miles to the Welcome Center.
BEAVER CREEK STATE NATURAL AREA | BRIAN BOOTH STATE PARK
This is a 3-miles paddle that meanders up the lush Beaver Creek valley with views of the surrounding Sitka spruce and alder forested hills. Look for beaver, river otter, muskrat and nutria, Roosevelt elk, or black-tailed deer.
24 miles N of Yachats
This Queen-Anne Victorian building holds a long and colorful history – from home, to boarding house, to funeral parlor, to museum.
Hours: 11am to 4pm, Thursday thru Sunday
Admission: $5 for adults, kids under 12 get in free.
Please check the web site below for additional information.
25 miles N of Yachats
Housed in an impressive former home on Newport’s historic bayfront, the museum’s exhibits and programming are dedicated to telling the stories of those who share a desire to live and work where sea meets land, and along its rivers and estuaries.
Hours: 11am-4pm Thursday through Sunday.
Admission: $5 for adults, kids 12 and under get in free.
Sea life cruises with fun activities.
Reservation requests, 72 hours or less in advance, must be made by phone. Other reservations may be made online through the “Contact Us” link on their web site.
23 miles N of Yachats
The Oregon Coast Aquarium is a living classroom for all learning styles and ages, and includes exhibits on Sandy Shores, Rocky Shores, Coastal Waters, Secrets of Shipwrecks, Sea Otters, Harbor Seals, Sea Lions, Giant Pacific Octopus, Seabird Aviary, Turkey Vultures, Orford Reef, Halibut Flats, Open Sea, Aquarium Grounds, and Big Bites.
Plan to stay a couple of hours and enjoy.
Beginning just 26 miles south of Yachats, the Oregon Dunes, the largest expanse of coastal sand dunes in North America, stretch out for 40 miles between Florence and Coos Bay. Check out the website for the recreation area, and “A Local’s Guide to the Oregon Dunes,” linked below, for more information.
15 miles S of Yachats | 12 miles N of Florence
Sea Lion Caves is proud to be part of the Oregon/Cape Perpetua Marine Reserve helping to protect the local marine animals and marine environment.
Sea Lion Caves (America’s largest sea cave) is a privately owned (since 1932) wildlife preserve and bird sanctuary, located just 15 miles south of Yachats and 11 miles north of Florence. It is the year-round home of the Steller sea lion, but sea lions are not always in the Cave. This is not a zoo, and sea lions are wild animals, so these protected animals come and go as they please. In winter months, hundreds of sea lions are usually found in the Cave, but when spring arrives, breeding and birthing time, the sea lions will move from the Cave to the rookery areas (the rock ledges out in front of the Cave) and remain there through summer. Please check the web site, linked below, for current admission prices and hours.
26 miles S of Yachats (about a 40 minute drive)
Historic displays feature the pioneers whose occupations were primarily as loggers and fishermen, and whose primary means of transportation was the Siuslaw River.
If you are a group of 10 or more, please call to make reservations. Please check the web site linked below for additional information, current hours, and admission fees.
A History Walking Tour is also available.
Take a drive on Yachats River Road for a possible view of grazing belted bovines – and sometimes also a majestic herd of elk. These black cattle with their signature cream-colored stripe are known affectionately by local children as “the oreo cows.” The river valley is also home to herds of bleeting goats, sheep, and less vocal horses and llamas, as well as ducks, peacocks, and other wonderful beings.
Plan ahead – check the local tide table and head out at least an hour before low tide.
Please see the tidepools guides linked below, which provide a map of locations for tidepools along the coast; information about tidepool zones and the creatures that live in them; and important tidepool etiquette guidelines.
Gray whales (and occasionally others) are often viewed off the coast of Yachats from the three day-use state parks in town. Other favorite nearby spots to watch for whales include the following:
Cape Perpetua Visitors Center (about 3 miles south of downtown Yachats)
Cook’s Chasm Turnout (about 3.25 miles south of downtown Yachats)
Sea Lion Caves Turnout – large Highway 101 turnout south of tunnel (15 miles south of Yachats)
Gray whales live along our coastline most of the year, but the big gray whale migrations occur from mid-December-through January (heading south) and from late March-through June (heading north).
Oregon Whale Watch weeks are held in winter between Christmas and New Year’s and in Spring during greater Oregon Spring Break. During these times whale watch interpreters are posted nearby at Cape Perpetua Visitors Center and Cook’s Chasm Lookout, just south of town. For more information, please look for Whale Watch Weeks posted in March and December on our Events page.
A 30-minute drive from Yachats, approximately.
White Wolf Sanctuary offers guided tours by appointment only. The tour begins with an educational talk about wolves and the White Wolf Sanctuary. Guests are then escorted around the sanctuary to learn about each wolf’s history.
Tours are approximately three hours depending on the size of the group, activity of the wolves, and interests of guests. Reservations are required.
Please check the web site for current fees and hours.
Please see the web site linked below for a map and directions.
The Yaquina Bay Lighthouse is believed to be the oldest structure in Newport. It is also the only existing Oregon lighthouse with the living quarters attached, and the only historic wooden Oregon lighthouse still standing.
The lighthouse has an interesting history – it was built in 1871, decommissioned in 1874, and officially restored as a privately maintained aid to navigation on December 7, 1996. It is is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Memorial Day – Sept: 11:00am – 4:00pm
October – Memorial Day: 12:00 Noon – 4:00pm
Note: November through February the lighthouse is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Entrance is free by donation.
3.5 miles N of Newport
The 100-acre site includes the lighthouse, an interpretive center, wildlife viewing – including whales, seals, tidepools, and seabirds – as well as short trails and incredible views.
This is Oregon’s tallest lighthouse at 93 feet. It was first lit on August 20, 1873 and has been guiding ships and their supplies along the west coast ever since. The lighthouse is located on a narrow point at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. Please see the link below for information about guided tours of the lighthouse.
Yaquina Head Interpretive Center & Interpretive Store Hours: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area Park Hours: 8:oo am – Sunset