Seaside Stories

Keeping Watch on Our Waters

July 7, 2013 | by Jon Rahl

The question is actually quite common. “How can I get to the Tillamook Lighthouse?” We hear it on a fairly regular basis by folks popping into the Seaside Visitors Bureau seeking information on the nine lighthouses that populate the Oregon Coastline.

While we wish it were possible to take a tour of “Terrible Tilly,” the lighthouse nearest to Seaside, she’s located more than a mile offshore from the banks of Tillamook Head and over five miles from most locations along the expansive Seaside beach. Tilly’s lore simply lives on by spying her from the shores of Seaside and Cannon Beach and listening to or reading the tales of those that know her so well.

For those hoping to step foot in a lighthouse near Seaside though, there are actually other options beyond traveling south along the Oregon Coast. Just a little over an hour from downtown Seaside, and beyond the popular Astoria-Megler Bridge over the Columbia River, sit two historic lighthouses along the southern edge of the Long Beach Peninsula in the state of Washington.

North Head and Cape Disappointment Lighthouses keep a watchful eye on the Pacific Ocean and the Columbia River, respectively, and both are situated perfectly inside Cape Disappointment State Park. Cape Disappointment is the older of the two 50-foot-plus beacons, first lighting up the entrance to the Columbia River in October of 1856. Cape D’s neighbor to the Northwest, known simply as North Head, has stood guard since May of 1898 – built to protect the precious ships traveling towards the mouth of the Columbia from the north.

On a typical July day, with the North Oregon Coast a patchwork of sun and clouds, I headed north with my family to Astoria and over the bridge to Washington to check out these over 100-year-old structures. A Washington State Park Discover Pass is needed (they are $10 for a day or $30 for an annual pass), but purchasing one gets you access to both relics.

We arrived at North Head first where the lighthouse is a quarter of a mile from the parking lot and the former lighthouse keeper’s residences. It’s an easy walk with both a gravel and paved path available. We took one path out and the other back in. The structure is beautiful and offers tremendous views in all directions. It also offers visitors the opportunity to climb to the top. It’s free for ages seven to 17, and adults 18 and older cost just $2.50 each. You must be seven to climb the tower. Please note: The lighthouse is currently closed for renovations and will reopen again sometime in 2017.

Cape Disappointment is a bit more difficult to get to but worth the half-mile walk in both directions for those that can do it. Her 40 additional years of rain and wind have taken their toll but both lighthouses take your mind back to a simpler time. It’s easy to imagine the lighthouse keepers trudging up and down the steps to keep mariners safe. Fortunately for us, the two lighthouses legacies live on where, thanks to the Washington State Parks, we can enjoy their beauty and history – all within a day’s drive of Seaside!

Editor’s note: Additional information can be found on the Cape Disappointment State Park website. You can purchase a Washington State Discover Pass on site or via the Discover Pass website.

Leave a Reply

and so much more!

Unique Seaside Spots to Stay

(photo courtesy of the SaltLine Hotel)   From oceanfront studios and restful retreats to in-house spas and pet-friendly suite...

Learn More
Let’s Fly a Kite

On the beach at Seaside is perfect for this. There are no overhead wires and the beach has few up or down wind drafts from the winds which move across the ocean. This makes kite flying easier and explains why kites are a common part of the Seaside landscape. Kite flying is for dry days as wet kite lines can act as a conductor for static electricity and lightning in a storm.

Learn More
“World’s Largest”

A quick recap of Seaside

Learn More
View from the Tower

View from the old Seaside Hotel tower.

Learn More
Hiking Saddle Mountain is one of our four favorite hikes around Seaside.
4 Favorite Hikes Around Town

The sheer variety of trails in and around Seasie Oregon means you have plenty of hiking options, from kid-friendly strolls on the Prom to more strenuous climbs with stunning views.

Learn More
Oregon’s North Coast Video Series

Oregon's North Coast Spring Videos

Learn More
Roaming the Sand for Treasures

The beach is often filled with unique finds, especially after a storm.

Learn More
Golden Age Arcade

Seaside's classic golden age arcade.

Learn More
How to Bike Seaside in Every Season

If you like to ride a bike, there’s something for everyone in Seaside and something for every season, too. Be it a family of five, an avid mountain biker, friends on a weekend outing, a couple on a date, or someone who likes to combine biking and outdoor exploration, Seaside’s trails and roads, paved and otherwise, have you covered. In fact, there are plenty of reasons to enjoy biking in Seaside throughout the year. Here are some great biking experiences recent visitors have enjoyed in and around Seaside. Get inspired to plan your own trip.

Learn More
Biking the N. Coast Mountain Range

Opportunities endless when hopping on two wheels to navigate Seaside area

Learn More
Episode Three: the Seaside Aquarium

Take the audio walking tour of Seaside

Learn More
Paragliding on the North Coast

Adventure and fun with paragliding on Oregon

Learn More
An early morning kayak ride

One kayaker's take on an early morning ride into the Necanicum Estuary.

Learn More
Saddle Mountain State Park Excursion

A day trip to Saddle Mountain adds diversity to Seaside as a destination vacation.

Learn More
Seaside Beach Volleyball Tournament
World’s Largest Beach Volleyball Tournament

Come August, the “digs” along Seaside’s beach have nothing to do with razor clams. For the 36th year, Seaside will host the ...

Learn More
A group of women prepare to learn surfing in Oswald West State Park. Photo by Justin Bailie.
New Year, New Adventures

Instead of starting the new year by committing to breaking bad habits — and then forgetting that you even made the resolution ...

Learn More
Where to P.L.A.Y. in Seaside

The park is nestled next to Neawanna Creek where ducks float lazily by, a tree lined mountainside looming in the distance. Do a 180 and you get a great view of Tillamook Head to the south.

Learn More
Seaside OR: Beachside Weddings

The North Oregon Coast is home, and Seaside is an ideal wedding destination! Seaside has incredible scenery, diverse and amazing vendors, and is within close proximity to the Portland airport for those out of town guests.

Learn More