Next stop on my tour of the Oregon coast was Cape Blanco State Park, a spectacular facility located at the state’s westernmost point, on a bluff about 200 feet above the Pacific Ocean. Suitably isolated to give one a feeling of peace, yet close enough to other sites on the coast, Cape Blanco was the perfect place to spend 4 nights (too few!).
Cape Blanco first came onto my radar from reading the Wheelingit blog, which chronicles the journey of my friends Paul and Nina. They have spent a few seasons here as lighthouse hosts and have written prolifically about their love for the area. Based on their testimonial, I knew I had to visit, and I wasn’t disappointed. Not one bit!
But before I arrived at Cape Blanco, I made a quick stop at another of the many lighthouses on the Oregon Coast.
Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint
OK, first a bit of commentary. WTH, Oregon? Why do you have so many names for state recreation facilities? Why can’t they just all be called state parks? You have state parks (as one would expect), state recreation sites, state recreation areas, state heritage sites, state heritage areas, state natural sites, state natural areas, state scenic corridors, state scenic viewpoints, and waysides. Really? It’s like someone got paid by the name. #confusing
Now that I have got that out of my system, I shall proceed. Sorry for the interruption. Not really.
About a third of the way from Newport to Cape Blanco sits Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint is a large (550 acre)
park state scenic viewpoint that has the Heceta Head Light. Located 200+ feet above the ocean, the lighthouse wasn’t open for tours when I was there, so I had to settle for looking at it from the outside and enjoying the views.
Access to the lighthouse is via a 1/2 mile trail that climbs up from sea level to the lighthouse. On the way you pass by the keepers quarters which are currently available to stay at as a bed and breakfast. A smallish beach is accessible from the parking lot.
Four nights were spent at the 52 site campground at Cape Blanco, which is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. It was a bit nerve-wracking not knowing if I was going to get a place to stay as my experience up to this point was that campgrounds on the coast are kinda full during the summer. I hedged my bets and arrived on a Monday and was able to get a site. Unfortunately it wasn’t one of the prime spots on the water side (no real view as the forest is in the way), but site A13 worked just fine.
The campground sits ~240 feet above the ocean and offered access to the beaches via a series of trails. Trails abound at the park, many of which aren’t on the official map. You just sort of find them and wonder where they go. Great to way to explore, which I definitely did!
Plenty of beach is to be had at Cape Blanco. There is one on both the north and south side of the cape, and they extend for miles. However, they are not connected as the western point of the cape is the typical beachless cliffs that are so common on the Oregon coast. So in order to get from one beach to the other, you had to climb up to the top of the bluff and go back down. Great workout!
Directly below the lighthouse, the north beach has tide pools that are surrounded by some very interesting rocks. They are very shiny, though they aren’t wet. They have what appears to be some sort of fungusy growth, or maybe it is just part of the rock. Weird, but cool. And The Google was no help in identifying what these rocks are.
I walked on the beaches a lot and was the only one there most of the time. Peaceful. I like!
Cape Blanco Lighthouse
The Cape Blanco Light is allegedly the oldest standing lighthouse on the Oregon coast and is 245 feet above the ocean. Unfortunately the lighthouse wasn’t open for tours when I was there as the stairs were pulling away from the lighthouse walls. That isn’t good.