Boiler Bay

Looking out for Cape Lookout
by Nora Sherwood

Cool, spruce-scented breezes envelop you on your hike down the dark, cushioned, mossy trail to one of the most astonishing promontories on the Oregon coast. The path edges by heart-stopping sheer cliffs plummeting 400 feet down to the sea as you wind out to the cliffs on the western tip. An ancient lava flow stretched from a volcano in eastern Oregon and poured into the sea exactly here.

Cape Lookout
Cape Lookout, photo Steve Griffiths

Cape Lookout
Cape Lookout, USFWS file photo

Cape Lookout State Park is a long, thin strip of land that juts out a mile-and-a-half into the Pacific Ocean. Perched on the edge of the continent, 10 miles south of Tillamook and 35 miles north of Lincoln City, this place offers a glimpse of the Oregon coast before extractive timber farming destroyed most coastal habitat. A jumble of local, state and federal regulations have helped preserve places like this one along the Oregon coast, but not even Cape Lookout is fully protected.
Massive old-growth Sitka spruce, some of the few left on the coast, insulate you from the buffeting winds that threaten to sweep you off the cliff at the point. If you are lucky, you may see migrating gray whales. Look down at them just below — spouting, breaching and tail-slapping on their annual migrations north and south, as they glide around the point.
Cape Lookout
Cape Lookout, photo by Steve Griffiths

Cape Lookout
Cape Lookout, photo by Steve Griffiths

Seabird colonies — common murres, black oystercatchers, Brandt’s cormorants, pigeon guillemots and the ubiquitous Western gulls — flock to where the ocean and the land meet at the base of the cliffs. Steep and rocky crags keep the most dangerous predators, including you, at bay. Birds feed on the mussels, mollusks, sea stars, crustaceans and fish in this unspoiled spot. The harmony between undisturbed offshore and rocky shore habitats benefits the entire ecosystem, from algae and kelp to anemones and crabs to scoters and bald eagles and, of course, those glorious grey whales.
Cape Lookout offers a rare view of biodiversity we all must cherish if we are to survive on this planet. The Audubon Society of Lincoln City is identifying locations that offer high impact opportunities to preserve pristine and critical rocky habitats, and are considering whether to lobby for additional protections for Cape Lookout as part of our Rocky Habitat focus. What do you think?
Cape Lookout
Cape Lookout, photo by Steve Griffiths

Learn how you can TAKE ACTION to protect our rocky coast.


The Oregon Coast Rocks!

The Oregon Coast Rocks! printable flyer [PDF]

Managing our Rocky Coast [PDF]

Frequently Asked Questions

Cape Foulweather
Cape Foulweather information sheet
Cape Foulweather: Not a Foul View (essay)
Cape Foulweather printable flyer [PDF]

Cape Lookout
Cape Lookout information sheet
Looking out for Cape Lookout (essay)
Cape Lookout printable flyer [PDF]


Five reasons to protect rocky habitats [PDF]

Five reasons to protect kelp [PDF]

Birds that rely on our Coastal Habitats

Oregon Ocean Information: Rocky Habitat Management Strategy

The Oregon Nearshore Strategy

Citizen's Guide to Oregon's Coastal Management Program
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