About the Refuge

PROMO Intro CapeMeares by RL 512x219

Named after 18th century British naval officer, trader and explorer John Meares, the cape was formerly maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard for its diminutive lighthouse, Oregon's shortest. The lighthouse still stands, abutting but just outside the 140 acres of centuries-old spruce and hemlock forest that is Cape Meares National Wildlife Refuge.


Established in 1938, the refuge boasts vertical coastal cliffs, rocky outcroppings, and rolling headlands with old-growth forest dominated by Sitka Spruce and Western Hemlock. The cliffs support nesting seabirds including Common Murres, Pigeon Guillemots, Pelagic Cormorants, and Black Oystercatcher. A pair of Peregrine Falcon, formerly an endangered species, has nested on the refuge since 1987. 

Cape Meares also offers panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean that encompass both Three Arch Rocks and Oregon Islands National Wildlife refuges, making it the only location in the United States where three refuges can be seen at one time. Hiking enthusiasts will enjoy several trails that wind through the headland's old-growth forest. The refuge also harbors the largest Sitka Spruce in Oregon. At 144 feet tall with a circumference of 48 feet and a crown spread of 93 feet, the "champion tree" is estimated to be between 700-800 years old.

From the headland, migrating Gray Whales can be seen offshore, along with Harbor Seals and sea lions. The Cape Meares Lighthouse, managed by Oregon State Parks, is open to the public April to October from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., free of charge. During these hours, visitors can peruse a gift shop run by Friends of Cape Meares Lighthouse and Wildlife Refuge at the base of the lighthouse. 

Refuge Headquarters:
Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex
2127 SE Marine Science Drive
Newport, OR 97365
541-867-4550
oregoncoast@fws.gov