Umpqua River Lighthouse

The best way, in my opinion, to enjoy the Umpqua River Lighthouse, is from a distance.  Up close, it loses a bit of its charm. That’s why I started with a nice picture taken from alongside US 101.  Ah, a stately lighthouse, surrounded by fir trees, overlooking the deep blue ocean. Yep, this is great.

I found this scene on my return trip up the Oregon Coast, on Day 8.  It was sunny and blue that day, quite perfect really.  But this is the Pacific Northwest, so odds are, you’re likely to see something more like this:

Yes, we’ve jumped back to day two, and with every mile I traveled, the clouds were growing darker.  Nonetheless, I decided to check out the Umpqua River Lighthouse, up close.  And I soon discovered that up close, the Umpqua light isn’t all that impressive.

It’s not the lighthouse itself that was disappointing, but rather the surrounding structures.  It was bizarre: it looked as if someone had plopped a lighthouse in the middle of a low-income housing project.  The whole thing was surrounded by chain link fence.  The surrounding homes had yards littered with children’s toys.  The whole area seemed junky.

Then again, maybe I had just seen more lighthouses than I really needed for one day.  I think the Umpqua light was open to visitors, but it would have required a walk down the road to the keeper’s house, then back, and I wasn’t in the mood to exert all that effort.

Umpqua River Lighthouse State Park is located south of Reedsport, and south of the sprawling Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.

So, I quickly admired the view of the Pacific, and moved on. provides the interesting history of the Umpqua River Lighthouse.  The current light is actually the second one, which was lit in 1894.  The original tower was built on sand, and became unstable.  After it was decommissioned, and later collapsed.

Note: This trip was first published in 2007.

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