About the Refuge

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach by Roy Lowe 512 by 219 About the Refuge

Spanning the Oregon coast, the wilderness islands and windswept headlands of Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge are celebrated for their abundant wildlife and rugged grandeur. Rocky islands and sheer cliffs provide isolated breeding and resting habitat for diverse communities of birds, marine mammals, and plants along the wave-battered coastline. 


From nearly every viewpoint on the Oregon coast, colossal rocks can be seen jutting out of the Pacific Ocean, stark monoliths amidst a pounding surf. Established on May 6, 1935, as a refuge and breeding ground for seabirds and marine mammals, the scenic and rugged Oregon Islands Refuge includes 1,853 rocks, reefs, and islands and stretches from Tillamook Head near Seaside south to the California border. All of the rocks and islands of the refuge are designated National Wilderness Areas, with the exception of 1-acre Tillamook Rock. Most of Oregon’s estimated 1.2 million nesting seabirds use Oregon Islands Refuge as a place to raise their young, and Oregon’s seals and sea lions use the islands as a place to haul out and rest or to give birth to their pups.  

The refuge also protects two headlands: Coquille Point and Crook Point. The 19-acre Coquille Point, acquired in 1991, is located on the western edge of the city of Bandon. The headland provides a buffer zone between mainland development and the islands. It is a spectacular place to watch seabirds and harbor seals and serves as a gateway to Bandon's beach. A paved trail winds over the headland and features interpretive panels that share stories about the area's wildlife.

The 134-acre Crook Point Unit was acquired in 2000 and is located along the southern Oregon coast just south of Gold Beach. It contains rare plants, unique geological formations, and one mile of pristine beach with interspersed rocky intertidal areas. It's also a buffer, protecting seabird colonies from encroaching development. It is next to the Mack Reef archipelago home to the second-largest concentration of nesting seabirds in Oregon. This headland is closed to public use.

The 14-acre Whale Cove Unit on the central Oregon Coast is the most recent addition to Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge. Acquired in December 2014, the property is two miles south of Depoe Bay in Lincoln County. It surrounds the oldest marine reserve in Oregon, where all marine life is protected. The site will be managed for its natural resource values and to protect Whale Cove’s ecology. The cove provides scenic views from nearby Rocky Creek State Park and US Highway 101. Learn more about Whale Cove here

Refuge Headquarters:
Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex
2127 SE Marine Science Drive
Newport, OR 97365