The Great Outdoors
Stop by the Yachats Visitors Center for a beachcombing brochure with a map and great tips, produced by the local Agate Club.
The Yachats shoreline is part of the North Marine Protected Area (MPA).
The Cape Perpetua Marine Reserve and MPAs is the largest in Oregon’s Marine Reserve network. 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 points of access within Yachats.
3 miles south of downtown Yachats
The Cape Perpetua Visitor Center offers a viewing room and deck, natural and cultural history exhibits, a theater with nature films; summer time weekend Ranger Programs and Guided Walks, and Monday Walks with a Ranger; a Saturday Speakers Series in winter, and other seasonal programs such as spring and winter Whale Watch weeks.
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.
(1) 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 tide pools. 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.
(2) 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 is 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 tide pools viewing platform here, as well as a grassy lawn, resting benches, an historic marker, and picnic tables.
(3) 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 gravel road that leads to the park/parking lot. The park has a small pebbly beach near the entrance, and picnic tables and benches along a beautiful 3/4 mile stretch of the 804 Trail. 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 River Bay at Waldport. The 804 Trail from the parking lot north to the beach is above the tideline, 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 even be able to count them! (Most of the year we have grey whales here – and many more during the spring and winter migrations.)
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 web site for the 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 wildlife preserve and bird sanctuary, since 1932, 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.
You may reserve a Guided Kayak Tour (kayaks and equipment provided) at Beaver Creek State Natural Area for dates between July 1 and Labor Day. To make a reservation visit the Beaver Creek web site, linked below, or call 541-563-6413 (Noon-4).
You may also bring your own kayak or canoe for a self-guided paddle on the gentle Beaver Creek, or on the Alsea River Water Trail, a 10-mile route including the Alsea River, Drift Creek, and Lint Slough.
BEAVER CREEK STATE NATURAL AREA – IN BRIAN BOOTH STATE PARK
Where: Beaver Creek is 16 mi N of Yachats; 8 mi N of Waldport; 8 mi S of Newport, off Hwy 101. Put in your kayak or canoe at the launch across from Ona Beach on Hwy 101. The three-mile paddle 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.
PORT OF ALSEA / ALSEA RIVER WATER TRAIL – dockage and moorage 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 L on Broadway and proceed to the Port of Alsea docks.
Plan ahead – check the tidetable and head out at least an hour before low tide.
Please see the tidepools guide linked below, which includes
a map of locations for tidepools along the coast
information about tidepool zones and the creatures that live in them
and important guidelines for viewing tidepools
3.5 miles N of Newport
The 100-acre site includes the lighthouse, an interpretive center, wildlife viewing – including whales, seals, tidepooling, and birding, 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