The Great Outdoors
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. Beginning June 1, reservations may be made for July thru Labor Day tours by visiting the Beaver Creek web site, linked below, or by calling 541-563-6413 (Noon-4).
Or you may bring your own kayak or canoe to paddle the gentle Beaver Creek, Yachats River, or Eckman Lake in Waldport, or to explore the Alsea River Water Trail, a 10-mile route along 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. Kayak/Small Boat Launch – 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
Stop by the Yachats Visitors Center for a beachcombing brochure with a map and great tips, produced by the local Agate Club.
“The largest in Oregon’s Marine Reserve network, this reserve covers 14.1 square miles of ocean habitat. There are three Marine Protected Areas that include 18.8 square miles. The reserve and MPAs are joined terrestrially by some of the most protected and outstanding old growth coastal rainforest. The region has been identified as the Central Coast Marbled Murrelet Important Bird Area. The US Fish and Wildlife Service notes it has the state’s highest concentration of ESA-listed murrelets. The small but productive Cape Perpetua Reef Complex within this site hosts a diversity of rockfish species, including copper, vermillion and quillback rockfish. There are 15 seabird nesting colonies, including the largest mainland breeding colony of Brandt’s cormorants in the Pacific at Heceta Head.
“The large rocky promontories of Cape Perpetua and Heceta Head, the productive ocean waters and expansive sandy seafloor environments, mark a unique transition from the nearshore rocky reefs to the north off Seal Rock and the subtidal reefs and kelp forests to south at Cape Arago. Between the energetic intertidal habitats and the deeper and stable offshore habitats on the shelf, this nearshore area hosts diverse communities of invertebrates, important forage species, such as sand lance, crabs, flatfishes, and sharks, as well as foraging seabirds and marine mammals. The small, but productive, Cape Perpetua Reef Complex within this site hosts a diversity of rockfish species. This remote and productive area is one of Oregon’s natural treasures.”
Please see the web site linked below for additional informaiton and some beautiful photos.
3 miles south of downtown Yachats
The Cape Perpetua Visitors Center offers a viewing deck, natural and cultural history exhibits, a winter Saturday Speakers Series, other seasonal programs such as whale watch, tidepool discovery days, and guided walks, and a theater with nature films.
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, an Oregon Heritage Tree, Native American shellmiddens, the West Shelter Viewpoint, Devil’s Churn, Spouting Horn, Thor’s Well, 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/day use vehicle pass fee (may be reused at other sites along the coast on the same day) or valid recreation pass. 5-day coast passes and annual passes are also sold here. 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 – at the mouth of the Yachats River just south of downtown. Turn west onto Yachats Ocean Road at the south end of the Yachats River Bridge. Park along the rim road and take the wooden staircase down to the beach. At low tide, 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 wind – 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 – 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. This 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 tidepools viewing platform here, as well as a lawn, resting benches, historic marker, and picnic tables.
(3) Smelt Sands State Recreation Site – at the north end of town, turn west at the Smelt Sand’s sign onto a gravel road that leads to the park/parking lot. This park includes picnic tables and a small pebbly beach along a beautiful stretch of the 804 Trail. At low tide, the north end of this trail (except in winter) connects to a 7-mile stretch of sandy beach that reaches all the way to the Alsea River Bay at Waldport. The distance from the 804 trailhead at Smelt Sands parking lot to the north end of the trail where it connects to the beach is 3/4 mile. The 804 Trail 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.
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