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Visitor Activities

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Although Three Arch Rocks NWR is closed to public entry year-round to protect wildlife, the thronging seabirds and marine mammals found there can be viewed from Cape Meares and in the town of Oceanside.

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.

  • 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.

  • Interpretation

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    During the summer, volunteers offer interpretation on weekends to visitors at Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint. Both Cape Meares and Oceanside are located on the Three Capes Scenic Route west of Tillamook.

  • 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 surprisingthe 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 camera-phone will do just fine for most visitors.

Page Photo Credits — Wildlife Viewing sign - Roy Lowe/USFWS, Visitors enjoying Three Arch Rocks - Dawn Harris/USFWS, Three Arch Rocks at sunset - Roy Lowe/USFWS
Last Updated: Jun 23, 2015
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