Heceta Head Lighthouse

Central Oregon Coast

Image by Alex Morley @ www.alexmorleyphoto.com


Heceta Head Lighthouse - you would think with the vast amounts of shoreline along the Oregon coast you would be able to find tons of great lighthouses to photograph. I have not found that to be the case, but luckily there is Heceta Head Lighthouse. This is a nice location with easy access and multiple ways to shoot.

Heceta Head Lighthouse is a working lighthouse (it beams 21 miles out to sea) and is the brightest light on the Oregon coast. It is said to be the most photographed lighthouse in the United States. I have seen good shoots from behind the lighthouse, down on the beach, but my favorite spot is from the highway north of the bridge. There are also lots of good times to shoot this classic lighthouse: fogged in, the middle of the day, sunset, or just before dusk when the light is visible. 

Trail Difficulty - EASY

I would rate the difficulty of this trail as a 1 on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being most difficult). There are 2 locations to shoot the Heceta Head Lighthouse: 1) on the beach or 2) on a highway pullout located 0.7 mile south of the main entrance, over the bridge and up the hill.

If you shoot from the beach, it is an easy 100yd. walk from the parking lot, but you may have to wade through some water. If you shoot from the highway pullout, it is an easy 20f.t walk from your car. 

Download KMZ Trail File

Location of shot is from the road

GPS Coordinates & Elevation

Google Maps Birds-Eye-View

Click link above to view location in Google Earth


CLICK HERE to get driving directions the Heceta Head Lighthouse parking lot.

The Heceta Head Lighthouse is 11 miles north or Florence, OR, and 13 miles south of Yachats, OR.

From Florence, OR, drive approximately 11.7 miles north on US 101 and just past a large elevated bridge, then turn left down to the lighthouse parking area. 

Best Time of Day to Shoot

The ocean/beach is not greatly affected by the time of year. The sunset is to the left in the fall /winter/spring and center right in the summer. The Heceta Head Lighthouse is on the Oregon coast, with the shot facing northwest. For this reason, the best time to shoot would normally be late afternoon/evening or sunset. However, the Oregon coastline is sometimes “socked in” with a marine layer (dense fog), which can alter normal shooting times.

Best Time of Year to Shoot

The ocean/beach is not greatly affected by the time of year. The sunset is to the left in the fall /winter/spring and center right in the summer.

What Lens(es) Do You Need

The above shot was taken with a 50mm lens. Depending on the composition you are looking for, you can use anything from a 24mm to a 135mm lens.


There are no permits required - but there is a daily fee of $ 5 per vehicle.

Direction of the Shot

The direction of the shot is north at 350°.

Special Nuances of Shot

There are 2 different places to shoot the lighthouse: 1) on the beach or 2) on a highway pullout located 0.7 mile south of the main entrance, over the bridge and up the hill.

If you shoot on the beach, the best place is on the far left of the beach up against the cliff. To get to this spot you may have to wade through some water, but it provides a nice vantage point for evening or sunset.

My favorite location to shoot the lighthouse is on one of the pullouts south of the entrance. There are 2 separate pullouts. A larger one (holds 2-3 cars) and a very small one about 100yds. down the hill. I believe the smaller pullout provides the best angle for an evening/sunset shot. 

Special Equipment Needed

You will need a tripod and if you wish to lower your shutter speed to create movement in the ocean, you will need a neutral density (ND) filter.

If you shoot on the beach, you may consider waders/wet shoes, as you might need to walk through some water to get to your location. 

Number of Other Photographers to Expect

The Heceta Head Lighthouse at times has tourists and photographers on the beach area. If you are going to shoot from the beach, there may be other photographers there. If you shoot from the highway pullouts, you would rarely see another photographer. 


Current Weather

The weather on the Oregon coast is mild in the spring, summer, and fall, and it rains about 75 inches a year. Winter can be cold, wet, and produce strong storms/waves.

The Oregon coastline can often be totally “socked in” from the marine layer (dense fog). Be sure to bring rain gear.

Cell Service

I use Verizon, and the cell service is spotty along the Oregon coast – and is hit or miss. 

Overnight Lodging/Camping

The closest town is Florence, OR, which has an abundance of lodging and restaurants.

There are 2 nice locations for camping near Heceta Head Lighthouse: Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park (2 miles north) and the Heceta Beach RV Park & Mini Mart (11 miles south). Carl Washburne is a state park with 65 campsites and Heceta Beach RV is privately owned with internet, showers, and a mini mart. 

Nearby camping and lodging

Camping - click on the campground below for directions

Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park – 2 miles north

Heceta Beach RV Park & Mini Mart – 11 miles south

Lodging - click on the lodging below for a TripAdvisor review

Three Rivers Casino & Hotel
(877) 374-8377
5647 Oregon 126, Florence, OR

Driftwood Shores Resort and Conference Center
(541) 997-8263
188416 1st Ave, Florence, OR

Nearby Restaurants

Florence, OR, is a nice size town with lots of places to eat. The Old Town area has plenty of good food  choices.  My personal favorites are the 1285 Restobar and the Waterfront Depot. The 1285 Restobar is a nice local place with good food and nice folks. The Waterfront Depot is a little more upscale and right on the water. Good grub and a very relaxing atmosphere. 

Nearby Restaurants - click on the restaurant below for yelp review

Waterfront Depot Restaurant
(541) 902-9100
1252 Bay St, Florence, OR

Restobar 1285
(541) 902-8338
11285 Bay St, Florence, OR

Laundry Mat

The closest laundry mat is in Florence, OR (12 miles)

37th Street Coin Laundry & Shower
1856 37th St., Florence, OR

Other Photography Opportunities Around

Click on an image below to move to that location

Airport Options

The closest airports are:

 Eugene, Oregon (EUG) - (70 miles) is a regional airport servicing: Alaska Airlines, Delta, American Airlines, Emirates, Air France, Copa, Lufthansa and United.

 Portland International airport (PDX) – (190 miles) is a full international airport with services to most of the major airlines. 

Area Guides and Workshops

If you were looking for a GREAT photography guide for Pacific Northwest (Oregon and Washington areas) - I can highly recommend Mark Metternich. I have taken workshops with Mark in the past and he has been hosting workshops in the Pacific Northwest for many years.

Mark knows all the VERY best places to take you and just the right time to be there - to help you get the shot. He is a great photographer, an expert at photoshop, an excellent guide/instructor and a super nice guy.

Mark Metternich

Other Resources

The Photographer's Ephemeris is a very valuable tool for landscape photographers to determine the direction of the sunrise/sunset & moonrise/moonset from any place on earth on any day (past and future). Click here to take you to The Photographer's Ephemeris for this location. 

Heceta Head Lighthouse