Outstanding is a word to be used carefully. Certainly the Federal Government does not bandy this word about. Yet the BLM has named this area the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, one of several in the U.S. and one of three with a lighthouse. (By the way, it is pronounced yuh-KWINN-uh, more-or-less.)
While a lighthouse has been here since the late 19th century, it was also a basalt quarry until 1983. But the scars, while still visible, are diminished by the natural beauty, the wildlife, and the iconic lighthouse.
Outstanding it is, in easy-hiker terms. Mostly paved and level, there is an easy walk from the Interpretive Center to the lighthouse. It is safe for prams or even wheelchairs. The only impediment might be the wind that whips the headland. On a sunny day, it is easy to ignore the breeze.
For those desiring more exercise, there is a short hike to the top of Salal Hill, a climb of 110 steps to the top of the lighthouse, or you can take the stairs down to Cobble Beach for some tide pool exploration. The footing here is tricky, though, as the beach is made up of polished “cobbles:” basalt rocks that over the years have been smoothed and rounded by the surf. We’ve never seen any beach like this. Well worth exploring.
Bird life abounds: Common murres, brown pelicans, tufted puffins, guillemots, gulls, and cormorants. Whales can be spotted when the sea is calm enough as California Gray Whales linger off the Central Oregon Coast in July and August.
I am looking forward to coming back on a nice winter day.
To complete the day, the Oregon Coast Aquarium, Hatfield Marine Science Center, and the harbor at Newport are close by.