A Guide to Photographing the Oregon Coast's Nine Historic Lighthouses
By Gary Hayes
Published: 02/04/2014  Updated: 08/15/2019
Tillamook Rock Lighthouse photographed from Ecola State Park near Cannon Beach, Oregon.
Tillamook Rock Lighthouse photographed from Ecola State Park near Cannon Beach, Oregon.  Photo by Gary Hayes

With nine historic lighthouses, the Oregon Coast is a photographer's dream and this is our guide to the best places to photograph each of them.

You can photograph all of Oregon's lighthouses from the mainland, though there are a few where a longer lens will be required, such as the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse that is located about a mile offshore. Having lenses that offer focal points from at least 28-200mm is best. Some of these lighthouses are open to the public or offer tours, but check on hours before you go. Here are a few tips for photographing lighthouses as you tour north to south:

Tillamook Rock Lighthouse: Your best location for shooting this lighthouse is Ecola State Park near Cannon Beach. I suggest at least a 200mm lens for this lighthouse.

Cape Meares Lighthouse: You can walk right up to this short lighthouse in a commanding position. Best shots are from the short trail that leads from the parking area.

Yaquina Head Lighthouse: You can drive close to this lighthouse and photograph it from many angles within the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area: from the grounds, from the intertidal area (at low tide) accessed by a stairway at the parking area, or from trails that climb the headland. You can also photograph this from beaches to the north or south with a longer lens.

Yaquina Bay Lighthouse: Best photographed from the grounds of Yaquina Bay State Recreation Site at the north end of the Yaquina Bay Bridge.

Heceta Head Lighthouse: There are many great viewpoints to capture this recently restored lighthouse: A short walk leads to the base of the lighthouse in Heceta Lighthouse State Park and a trail continues above for views looking downward at the light. There are also viewpoints to the south along the highway that are great, especially with longer lenses.

Umpqua River Lighthouse: This light is surrounded by chain link fence within a Coast Guard housing area, so photography is challenging. Look into the small group tours that are offered May-October.

Cape Arago Lighthouse: Also located within a fenced Coast Guard area and can only be photographed from a distance. There are some good viewpoints just south of Sunset Bay State Park. A longer lens is best.

Coquille River Lighthouse: You can get right up to this light in Bullards Beach State Park. It can also be photographed to the south from Bandon's riverfront or the south jetty of the Coquille River.

Cape Blanco Lighthouse: Offers great access and viewpoints from the grounds, from a distance as you approach and from trails to beaches in the area.
A Guide to Photographing the Oregon Coast's Nine Historic Lighthouses