Rules and Regulations

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 The partnership at Cape Meares between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department benefits wildlife and people both. Cape Meares features a National Wildlife Refuge adjacent to a State Park, so wildlife will always find sanctuary here, and people will always have the opportunity to observe it.

The refuge is open year-round from sunrise to sunset. There are two accessible viewing decks overlooking the nesting falcons and Three Arch Rocks NWR; these are included in the Oregon Coast Trail (OCT) segment of the refuge. No fees are required.

The only portion of Cape Meares NWR open to public use is the OCT segment; all other lands within the refuge are closed to protect habitat. There are three public entrances: one permits vehicular and bicycle access, and two are accessible only to pedestrians. The vehicular access road (Lighthouse Drive) is located to the west of the Three Capes Scenic Loop. The road is maintained by Oregon Parks and Recreation and provides access to both the Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint and the refuge. The main pedestrian access point (OCT trail entrance) is located at the entrance to Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint and is accessed from Lighthouse Drive. The other pedestrian access to the refuge is via the OCT at the south end of 5th Street in the community of Cape Meares, through county lands that lie north of the refuge.

The refuge (except for the hiking trail) was designated a Research Natural Area (RNA) on June 11, 1987. RNAs are part of a nationwide network of ecological areas set aside for both research and education. Cape Meares refuge was designated as a RNA to further protect its unique vegetation, geology, and wildlife habitat in a naturally functioning ecosystem.

Bird-call Playback Devices

Playing recorded bird-calls with intent to attract birds is an issue of growing concern within the Refuge System, as the use of technology for birding and wildlife photography continues to increase and evolve. To avoid potential disturbance to wildlife and other visitors, the use of such devices is discouraged at this refuge.

Use of Drones Illegal on Refuges

Areas considered ecologically sensitive—including lands within the National Wildlife Refuge System, host to threatened or even endangered species—can be disproportionately affected by drone flights. Thus it is illegal to operate unmanned aircraft on Refuge lands. In addition, if a drone operator stands beyond Refuge boundaries and flies the vehicle over the Refuge, fines can be levied if the drone is observed disturbing wildlife, e.g. flushing nesting birds from an offshore island or causing resting pinnipeds to flee for the water.
​For more information on drone use over refuges, consult the Service's UAS Resource Guide.