A must-see when driving the Three Capes Scenic route, Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint is situated on a headland over 200 feet above the ocean. Cape Lookout and Cape Kiwanda are the other two capes on this route. Cape Meares provides an excellent view of the largest colony of nesting common murres. The site is one of the most populous colonies of nesting sea birds on the continent. Bald eagles are frequently seen in this area, and peregrine falcons have also been known to nest near here.
The park features tours of an 1890s lighthouse, the Sallie Jacobson Interpretive Kiosk, and interpretive panels at key viewpoints. Cape Meares has over three miles of hiking trails and a mile-long walking trail that winds through old-growth spruce trees, including the uniquely-shaped "Octopus Tree". A short quarter mile hike from a turn-off at the park entrance will bring you to the largest Sitka spruce tree in the state of Oregon. In winter and spring, this park is an excellent location for viewing whale migrations. During the summer, resident whales can be seen from Cape Meares along with seals and sea lions that are often seen and heard.
The inside of the lighthouse and a gift shop are open May to September. May and September hours are 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. weekdays, with extended hours on the weekends. June through August hours are 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. daily. Each day the lighthouse is closed from 2-2:30 pm. Service animals are permitted in the gift shop.
Tower tours: The tower is open by tour only: admission is free and no reservations are needed. For everyone's safety, no backpacks and no carrying children.
For more information please call Cape Lookout State Park at 503-842-3182.
Obtained between 1938 and 1968 by lease and purchase from three federal government agencies, the park is surrounded by the Cape Meares National Wildlife Refuge. The cape itself was once an active lighthouse of the U. S. Coast Guard. The cape is named for the 18th century British naval officer, trader and explorer John Meares.
The lighthouse was built in 1889 and commissioned on January 1, 1890. The tower stands 38 feet high and is the shortest lighthouse in Oregon. It is constructed of bricks covered with iron plates. The original addition that now houses the interpretive shop was a work room built in 1895. The current interpretive shop replaced the original work room in 1978.
The lens is a first order Fresnel lens made in Paris, France. It was shipped around Cape Horn, up the west coast to Cape Meares and then hauled 217 feet up the cliff by a wooden crane that was built from local timbers native to the area. It is an eight-sided lens with four primary lenses and four bull's-eye lenses with red panels covering the bull's-eye lenses. It produced about 30 seconds of fixed white light from the primary lens followed by a red flash of five seconds from the bull's-eye lens once every minute. This was the signature of Cape Meares Lighthouse. The primary lens produced 18,000 candlepower and the bull's-eye lens produced 160,000 candlepower. The light could be seen for 21 nautical miles at sea.