Visit Cape Blanco Lighthouse on the Southern Oregon Coast.
Cape Blanco Lighthouse has one of the most isolated, windswept settings of all Oregon lighthouses.
The Cape Blanco Lighthouse is at the most western point of Oregon, 20 minutes north of the tiny fishing village of Port Orford. Its location is nothing short of breathtaking, on a dramatic headland with 100-foot high cliffs, flanked by wild surf beaches on each side.
It's usually open April through September, with a small fee for a guided tour (check hours, gates close at 3:15pm).
The Cape Blanco Lighthouse must have been a popular posting, because it attracted long serving keepers. Keeper James Langlois served there for 42 years (1876 to 1918), and Keeper James Hughes served for 37 years (1889 to 1926). James Hughes was the second son of a local rancher, and grew up just 3 miles away at Hughes House, also open for tours.
The Coast Guard took over the Cape Blanco Lighthouse from the U.S. Lighthouse Service in 1939, and it was automated in 1979. The Cape Blanco Lighthouse was finally opened to visitors in 1996, and is managed by volunteers from the Cape Blanco Heritage Society.
When visiting the lighthouse, stay overnight at the bluff-top Wild Spring Habitat at Port Orford, and eat at the stylish Redfish restaurant with ocean views and a patio. You can also combine a visit to Cape Blanco Lighthouse with nearby Hughes House, and the Port Orford Lifeboat Station (museum).
10 best things to do at Cape Blanco Lighthouse
1. Do a guided tour of the windswept Cape Blanco Lighthouse.
The Cape Blanco Lighthouse opened in 1870, and is the oldest continually operating lighthouse in Oregon. It was constructed to warn ships about the treacherous reefs north of the lighthouse. Unfortunately this didn't prevent all tragedies in these perilous waters. One of the best known wrecks was the J.A. Chanslor near the lighthouse in 1919, where 35 souls drowned.
2. Take 63 steps to the top of Cape Blanco Lighthouse!
There are three flights of stairs, and then a final ladder to the lantern room at Cape Blanco Lighthouse.
Imagine the Lighthouse Keepers climbing these stairs on a cold, winter's night, with 100 MPH winds lashing the coast.
3. Check out the stunning lantern room.
This man has just proposed to his girlfriend in the lantern room at Cape Blanco Lighthouse!
Judging by the smile on her face, it seems like she said yes!
4. See interesting exhibits at the workroom attached to the Cape Arago Lighthouse.
5. Learn about the lives of lighthouse keepers and their families.
Between 1870 to 1910, three families were crammed into the duplex (the now demolished building in the photo on the right, with all the chimneys). The Head Lightkeeper and his family had one side of the duplex, and the two Assistant Lightkeepers shared the other side. Talk about cramped!
In the late 1800s life was very primitive. There was no electricity or plumbing, and cooking was done over a wood stove. Only the Head Lighthouse Keeper had a privy (toilet) inside his building, whereas the Assistant Lighthouse Keepers had to brave the elements and use the privy outside.
6. Check out the flash sequence of the Cape Blanco Lighthouse.
The Cape Blanco Lighthouse flashes a white light for 1.8 seconds, every 18.2 seconds, and can be seen 23 miles out at sea.
7. Admire the gorgeous views north up the coast.
Look north up the coast to the Sixes River emptying into a wild, ocean beach.
8. The view south is just as dramatic, overlooking Cape Blanco State Park.
9. Learn about how Cape Blanco Lighthouse is the oldest of 11 lighthouses on the Oregon Coast.
10. Drive 3-miles from the Cape Blanco Lighthouse, to the beautiful Hughes House.
Below is the road to Hughes House from the lighthouse.
Hughes House was constructed by a local rancher in 1898, and is usually open for tours (April to September). Check hours & days open.
This is one of the beautifully preserved rooms inside the Hughes House.