Cape Blanco

You might want to check the weather forecast before you venture out to this particular headland. Cape Blanco is the most western point in Oregon, so you can literally stand on the dry edge of the continent before it drops 200 feet (61 m) into the turbulent sea below. But standing could be a problem if you happen to visit the cape in poor weather. The top of the headland was deforested generations ago to make room for the lighthouse, and constant gales ensure little more than grass and a spotty understory of salmonberry and ferns can survive here. With little to shelter you from the weather, the unaware visitor could find themselves soaked and or even knocked to the ground by the powerful winds. (We recommend against trying it, and often the cape is closed entirely during dangerous weather conditions.) On nice days however, the cape provides a glimpse of the Oregon Coast which may seem very different from other areas. To the south is a series of gentle, barren slopes leading down to narrow, rock-strewn beaches. The valley to the north is a flat scrubby plain bisected by the twisting Sixes River. This area was also once dominated by a Sitka Spruce forest, but it was cleared to make way for the dairy cattle which still graze here. If the conditions are clear, look roughly southwest out to sea and you’ll see the tops of Orford Reef poking out of the water. Look further south and you’ll make out the cloud-topped dome of Humbug Mountain, the tallest mountain on the coast to actually meet the ocean. Regardless of when you go to Cape Blanco, take a warm jacket and hat. Tour the outdoor areas first, then when you’re good and chilled, head inside to visit the lighthouse or down the road to tour the lavish Hughes House museum.

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