Visitor Activities

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Although much of Oregon Islands NWR is designated as National Wilderness, seabirds and marine mammals found there can be viewed from many points onshore, such as Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach, Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area in Newport, Cape Arago in Charleston, and Coquille Point in Bandon.

A word of warning: Coastal areas, with their steep cliffs, strong currents and heavy surf, can be extremely dangerous. Exercise caution during your visit. Stay away from cliff edges and observe posted warnings. Avoid climbing on drift logs as they can roll in the surf at any time.

Interested in a fun and informative self-guided tour? Check out the new "Discover Nature" apps for Oregon Islands NWR.

  • Interpretation

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    During the summer, volunteers offer interpretation on weekends to visitors at various locations up and down the coast, including:

    Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach

    Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint

    Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area

    Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint

    Cape Arago State Park

    Coquille Point

    Harris Beach State Park

    For a truly immersive tidepooling experience, visit Bandon's Coquille Point in summer to meet volunteer USFWS interpreters during low-tide days. Download the schedule here: 

    July 2015 (PDF 751 KB)

  • Hiking

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    Coquille Point, a mainland unit of Oregon Islands Refuge located in Bandon, is a spectacular place to observe seabirds and harbor seals as well as explore the beach. The point overlooks a series of offshore rocks of every shape and size that provide habitat for Common Murre, Tufted Puffin, Western Gull and Brandt's Cormorant as well as Harbor Seal and rocky intertidal invertebrates. A paved trail winds over the headland and features interpretive panels that share stories about the area's wildlife and habitat.

    Don't miss an opportunity to see nesting seabirds off Coquille Point this summer! Volunteer USFWS wildlife interpreters will be stationed there on select days to answer questions and help identify birds. Download the schedule here:

    July 2015 (PDF 370 KB)

  • Wildlife Viewing

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    Some tips to make watching wildlife enjoyable and rewarding:

    •Download our Watchable Wildlife guide (PDF 444 KB), consult Oregon Explorer's Watchable Wildlife page to locate hotspots for wildlife, or look for the "Wildlife Viewing Station" sign wherever you visit. Plan your visit according to the season, tidal phase, and time of day. Wildlife is generally more active in the mornings and early evenings than in the afternoon.

    •Download a copy of the Oregon Coast Birding Trail guide. 

    •Keep voices down while approaching a viewing area to avoid scaring wildlife away before you get there. Although animals may disappear when you arrive, they often return shortly if you are quiet and still.

    •Use binoculars and spotting scopes to bring animals "closer" to you without disturbing them.

    •Bring a field guide to help you identify various species and the habitats they prefer. But, remember the goal is to identify with the wildlife, not just identify it.

    •Often a close look reveals more. Look up, look down. Or peer through a hand lens to enter the world of insects. Animals come in a range of sizes and occupy a variety of niches.

    Avoid disturbing wildlife. Remember that all coastal rocks and islands are closed to public access, and all watercraft should stay at least 500 feet away.

  • Photography

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    Perhaps the fastest growing activity on national wildlife refuges in the past ten years has been wildlife photography.  That’s not surprising – the digital camera population explosion and cell phones with ever-improving picture-taking abilities are increasing the number of nature photographers at a rapid rate.  You don’t need to purchase expensive equipment or have any experience to get started.  A small camera or basic cell phone will do just fine for most visitors.