Things to Do & See in Scenic Cape Meares, Oregon

May 11, 2010

Categories: Oceanside | North Oregon Coast

The beach at Cape Meares, blue sky and blue ocean.

Updated 11/2022 ~

Cape Meares is a quiet little area just west of Tillamook Oregon on the Three Capes Loop. There's a nice little community of bay and ocean view homes where you can find a small selection of beach houses in Cape Meares for your stay or plan to stay in the nearby villages of Oceanside and Netarts. If you're interested in visiting you'll want to keep an eye out for whales, eagles, and other wildlife that call these parts home. 

Cape Meares is not just cool because of its name! There are lots of things to do in Cape Meares, whether you're looking for an adventure or just want to relax and enjoy the views. 

Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint

Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint is one of the most scenic spots in Oregon, and one of the best places to see a lighthouse. The Cape Meares Lighthouse was established in 1890 and is still active today. 

The Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint is also a great place to watch whales, sea lions, and otters. The viewpoint overlooks the ocean, giving visitors a chance to enjoy its beauty. Volunteers are stationed here during Whale Watch Week and Spring Break to help visitors spot migrating whales. Binoculars are a must!

Cape Meares viewpoint on a clear sky day, blue ocean, and dramatic cliff with fir trees.

Cape Meares Lighthouse

The Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint is located 10 miles west of Tillamook featuring the Cape Meares Lighthouse and over 3 miles of hiking trails with spectacular views! A wide asphalt trail provides easy access to the lighthouse and is wheelchair accessible. Benches are conveniently located along the trails to enjoy the amazing scenery or catch your breath. You can return from the Lighthouse on an alternative trail south, where you can enjoy sweeping ocean views along the way. Picnic tables and viewpoint areas are available to take a break before hiking to the Octopus Tree (a must-see) includes a mile-long trail through old-growth spruce trees. 

The park is open daily from April through October from 11 am to 4 pm. The gift shop offers some unique souvenirs, and friendly volunteer staff is there to answer questions and guide your tour. Cape Lookout & Cape Kiwanda are part of this beautiful 40-mile scenic tour.

View leading to Cape Meares Lighthouse and gift shop.

Cape Meares Beach 

Cape Meares Beach is a beautiful place to enjoy the Oregon Coast. The beach is just north of the coastal village of Oceanside. From Tillamook or U.S. Highway 101 take highway 131 to the refuge.

Hiking, walking, and birding are popular activities on the beach, but you can still enjoy some solitude during quieter times of the day. Take a hike on the Cape Meares Loop Trail or walk down to the shoreline to find a quiet spot to fish or watch the waves crash against the rocks below. If you're lucky, you may even spot some whales off in the distance!

Bench at Cape Meares beach grassy area, clear blue sky, driftwood along the shore.

Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area

Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area is a state park in Pacific City, Oregon, United States. It is part of the scenic route known as the Three Capes which includes Cape Meares and Cape Lookout. 

Cape Meares' headland is a beautiful place to watch the Pacific Ocean crash against the rocks, or to sit and enjoy the view. The cape frames Pacific City's beach, a popular spot for kite flying and watching dory boats as they return from their day of fishing on the ocean. Home port to more than 300 of these traditional fishing vessels, Pacific City supports this historic tradition by protecting access at Cape Kiwanda for dory launching and hosting an annual Dory Days Parade.

Cape Kiwanda State Park sandy trail during a vibrant colored sunset.

Cape Lookout State Park

Cape Meares is a spectacular park and a great place to visit if you're exploring the Three Capes Scenic Route. The park is located between Netarts Bay and the Pacific Ocean. There's plenty to do here, including hiking along miles of trails, beachcombing in one of the most scenic spots, and visiting sites along the Three Capes Scenic Route.

Cape Lookout State Park's Cape Meares Campground is open year-round and offers 170 sites with a place to set up your tent. Many of the sites are right along the edge of the water. There are also two yurts that are available to rent. The campground has many amenities, including flush toilets, hot showers, a hiker/ biker camp, and firewood for sale.

Cape Meares National Wildlife Refuge

With all the excitement of exploring tide pools and wandering the beach, it can be easy to miss an opportunity to spot some of the wildlife native to this region. If you’re looking for more than a glimpse of these species, plan a trip to Cape Meares National Wildlife Refuge.

Cape Meares National Wildlife Refuge is known for its abundant marine life, including seabirds and marine mammals. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, their primary mission is the conservation, protection, and management of the nation's fish and wildlife resources. The Service manages habitat in more than 550 National Wildlife Refuges. Binoculars or spotting scopes are recommended for those interested in spotting some of the species of interest at Cape Meares, which can be visited year-round.

Octopus Tree

One of Cape Meares’ main attractions is an unusual tree not anywhere else in the world. The Octopus Tree  (also known as the Council Tree, the Monstrosity Tree, and the Candelabra Tree) gets its name from its unique shape, which looks like it has tentacles reaching out from its branches.

The octopus tree is said to be between 250 and 300 years old. The tree itself grows from a nearly 50-foot-round core base, and instead of shooting straight up with a central trunk, the body of the tree splits into a number of smaller trunks.

Three Arch Rocks 

Three Arch Rocks National Wildlife Refuge, located just off the coast of Oregon and visible from Cape Meares and Oceanside Beach, features steep cliffs and grassy rocks. The Three Arch Rocks is closed to public entry year-round to protect the wildlife that lives there. However, there are many spots where visitors can see marine mammals and seabirds with the help of binoculars or telescopes.

Overlooking the Three Arch Rocks at viewpoint high above Oceanside.

Whether you're making a visit for the day or staying overnight, there are plenty of things to do in Cape Meares, Oregon. So be sure to spend some time checking out all of these beautiful attractions, as we've described. It's a small investment with a big return!

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