The sturdy and humble Cape Meares Lighthouse has been sitting on its headland 200 feet above the ocean since 1890, enduring innumerable storms, technological obsolescence and the indignities of vandalism. Active until 1963, the Coast Guard actually had plans to demolish the building at one point but was dissuaded by public input. In its time, the little lighthouse beamed 21 miles out to sea, which ties the distance mark that Heceta Head Lighthouse currently holds. Since 1980 the lighthouse has been open to the public, and tours are available April through October.
The views from this park are incredible; dramatic cliffs stir a little vertigo, and to the south you can see Three Arch Rocks National Wildlife Refuge. Information stations are abundant, so come with a bit of extra time and an appetite to learn about the local wildlife and the history of the lighthouse itself. And don’t forget the short walk up to the Octopus Tree, a uniquely shaped Sitka spruce, just above the parking area. If you have the time and energy once you’ve finished taking it all in, check out the Big Spruce and Beach Trail near the park entrance.