The Heceta Head Park is named for Bruno de Heceta. He was a Spanish navigator and explorer, who surveyed the Oregon coast in 1775.
This lighthouse was built between 1892 and 1893 and was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. The head lightkeeper’s house was demolished and the lumber purchased for $10 in 1940 following the move from kerosene to electricity to power the lighthouse. The wood was used to build the Alpha-Bit Café in nearby Mapleton.
The state of Oregon was granted a license for the lighthouse and surrounding property by the Coast Guard in 1963, the same year that the lighthouse became fully automated. The assistant light keeper’s house, which still stands, is now a bed and breakfast operated by concessionaires of the U.S. Forest Service.
The Devil’s Elbow State Park, which included a cove south of the lighthouse it was enlarged to include the lighthouse. Thus it was renamed Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint connecting it with Washburne State Park to the north. The land for Devil’s Elbow State Park was acquired between 1930 and 1987 by purchase from private owners as well as gifts and exchanges with U.S. government agencies. In 1998, Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint was officially deeded to OPRD by ODOT. In 2001, the rest of the Coast Guard property was transferred to OPRD.
Annual day-use attendance: 1,056,538
Major Features & Activities
Lighthouse programs are given 7 days a week from 11:00 a.m. to 3 p.m. (winter 11-2), weather and staff permitting. We do not take reservations for general public programs. For more specific information you may e-mail us at Heceta.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tour groups, school groups, and other groups please e-mail us to schedule a program.
Restoration of the tower was finished in mid-2013. Because of ongoing maintenance and inspections of the upper levels, programs currently only cover the outdoor area around the base of the lighthouse, and the ground floor of the tower. There will be a new schedule when tours of the upper levels resume.
The Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint is located at the mouth of Cape Creek. The picnic tables are sheltered from the wind and a great view of the ocean. The short trail leads to the Heceta Head lighthouse and assistant keeper’s house.
The Heceta Head trail is part of a 7-mile network. There are trails of varying difficulty which feature beach and wildlife viewing areas. The Wildlife refuge islands have a view of common murres, cormorants, gulls, and other bird nesting areas. Whales and Sea Lions can be seen from the beach and cliff-top lighthouse.
On the west side of 1,000-foot-high Heceta Head, 205 feet above the ocean, the lighthouse is one of the most photographed on the coast. The light at the top of the 56-foot tower was illuminated in 1894; the automated beacon, seen 21 miles from land, is rated as the strongest light on the Oregon coast. The old assistant lighthouse keeper’s house (Heceta House; built in 1893) offers bed and breakfast rentals and facilities for group events. This bed and breakfast is operated by a concessionaire of the U.S. Forest Service and can be reached at 1-866-547-3696 or http://hecetalighthouse.com/
Common murres, which lay their eggs on the bare rocks, can be easily seen by looking down, just over the railing near the lighthouse. Brown pelicans and bald eagles commonly fly by. Migrating gray whales can be seen as they travel to and from Alaska and Baja California. The month of May is a great time to look right down on the mothers and calves as they travel close to shore.
Natural caves, tide pools, and a sandy beach for building sandcastles can be found.
Day-use parking permits at Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint are required year round. A daily ($5), 12-month or 24-month permit, an Oregon Coast Passport, or a valid state park camping receipt is required. You can purchase daily permits from a machine at the park. The 12-month and 24-month permits can be purchased at most major state park offices.