Heceta Head Lighthouse in Florence, OR is a scenic area with a beautiful beach and view of the Pacific Ocean. It is accessible by a short paved trail from the parking lot and a great place to stop and stretch your legs or spend the day.
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When researching places to stop on our 7-day Oregon Coast road trip in August 2022, many people said to be sure and visit the Heceta Head Lighthouse. On our drive up from spending in the night in Bandon, OR, we made sure to plan time for this cool lighthouse. I’m so glad we did! It was the only lighthouse we were able to visit during our road trip and my kids still talk about it.
About Heceta Head Lighthouse
Located in Florence, OR (about 1/2 way up the Oregon Coast), the Heceta Head Lighthouse is one of 9 lighthouses along the scenic Oregon Coast. It was built in 1892 and finished in 1894. The finished buildings included the lighthouse, housing for the head lightkeeper, two assistant lightkeepers, and their families, as well as two kerosene oil houses.
Currently, it is also “the brightest beacon on the Oregon Coast… and the visibility of the beam is only limited by the curvature of the earth.” (source: Heceta Head Lighthouse brochure) This state scenic viewpoint is easily accessible by a 1/2 mile trail from the parking lot and offers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean as well as the beach below.
If you get lucky, you might even see some wildlife! One of the volunteers at the lighthouse had a powerful telescope that allowed us to see the sea lions on one of the large rocks near the beach as well as some nesting birds.
What to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
If you are coming from the south, you will come out of a tunnel and cross a bridge. Shortly after that, there is a turn off to the left. Follow it down to the day-use parking lot.
If you are coming from the north, you will wind down around a corner and see a sign for the Heceta Head Bed and Breakfast. Do not turn here. Go a little further down the road and take the turn off on the right. Follow it down to the day-use parking lot.
Address: 93111 Highway 101 N, Florence, OR 97439
Day-use parking permits are required at all Oregon state parks, including Heceta Head Lighthouse. You can purchase a parking permit there by using your credit card at the ticket machine. Once purchased, it is good for the whole day (but only for that parking lot).
There is a parking lot right next to the beach and trailhead. But if that is full, there is another parking lot further back.
You are allowed to bring food, however seating options are limited. There are a few metal picnic tables under the trees on the east side of the parking lot. You can also find a couple more tables on a grassy(ish) area near the entrance to the beach itself. As always, remember to clean up after yourself. There are plenty of garbage cans available and park rangers regularly empty them. There are no vending machines or places to buy food or water so remember to bring your own.
The restrooms are located right next to the parking lot. When we arrived, the park ranger was cleaning one of the two bathrooms. The toilets themselves are pit toilets which aren’t my favorite. However, I definitely appreciated being able to use a clean bathroom with toilet paper and a place for me to wash and dry my hands. I noticed another bathroom about 50 feet away but it said it was closed at the time of our visit.
Heceta Head Lighthouse Trailhead
The trail up to the lighthouse is a gently-sloping 1/2 mile trail. It starts just north of the parking lot and winds through trees, past the assistant lightkeeper’s house. We were able to take our small fold up stroller on the trail without a problem thanks to the trail being semi-paved.
There were also signs posted along the trail with information and pictures about the area and history of the lighthouse.
The Heceta Head Lighthouse is open year-round, weather and staff permitting. Many of the tour guides are actually volunteers who are knowledgeable about the history of the lighthouse. If they are there, you can go inside the lighthouse. Unfortunately, you aren’t allowed to go up the circular staircase to the top. But it does make for a cool view looking up!
You can also step inside one of the oil houses and read more about the history of the area. The assistant lightkeeper’s house is a bed and breakfast so it isn’t available to tour.
For current information on tours, you can go to the Oregon State Parks website.
There is a small gift shop next to the bed and breakfast where you can buy all types of Heceta Head Lighthouse souvenirs: clothing, magnets, mini lighthouse replicas, photos, etc.
At the time of our visit (August 2022), the beach and state park were busy but not packed. There were many people on the beach but it didn’t appear crowded. It was a nice place to relax and I wish we’d had more time to play.
One of the most repeated pieces of advice I got when planning our Oregon Coast trip was “bring layers”. Now that I’ve been there, I know exactly why. While we were there on a nice, sunny day, the Oregon Coast is windy and can be cold. We were fine wearing shorts, but all my kids kept their jackets on.
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