Yaquina Head

Geographical location

Yaquina Head is a peninsula on the west coast of the United States north of Newport, Oregon is located in Lincoln County. The name comes from an Indian tribe, who lived on the coast of Oregon and is now virtually extinct. Is the Yaquina Head Lighthouse at the tip of the peninsula. Parts of about 1.3 km long peninsula stand since 1948 as Outstanding Natural Area under the protection of the Bureau of Land Management.

The relatively straight course of the central and northern coastline off Oregon is interrupted by isolated peninsulas, the Headlands. The Yaquina Head Peninsula forms the northern boundary of such a bay, which begins at the Yaquina Bay, the mouth of the Yaquina River at Newport. The peninsula is dominated by the 1871-1873 built Lighthouse Yaquina Head Lighthouse. Upstream, there are some small islands with bird colonies.


Yaquina Head is originated from the Columbia Plateau basalt 17 to 14 million years ago. The flood basalts from the region east of the Cascade Range from the border region of Oregon, Idaho and Washington. On their about 500 km long road towards the west, the huge amounts of lava followed the Columbia River in its valley through the Cascade mountains to the sea. As a result of the Columbia River was forced again and again throughout its history, to leave his old river bed, since he was ousted by massive basalt flows, he looked for new ways and new -formed by erosion valleys. Hoper noted that continued was the mouth of the Columbia River south about 15 million years ago. By this former Rivervale got a part of the so-called Gingko basalt flow to the coast of Oregon and formed a basalt peak in the sea, the Yaquina Head.

By reaching the Pacific Ocean, the lava cooled and eventually came to a halt. Approximately at Portland has shared the lava flow, another part of the lava reached the Pacific Ocean about 250 km further north in Astoria, at the mouth of the Columbia River today. Below the basalt able to find more deposits, partly of volcanic ash, basalt, sandstone or mudstone, depending on origin.

From the sedimentary deposits that were formed below the sea floor, but today exist in some places on the coast line as well as on the Yaquina Bay above the sea in terraces, it can be concluded that the country has greatly raised during the last two million years.

Because of the Yaquina Head predominant basalt is more resistant than the surrounding plateau sediments against the erosion of the sea, stay the basalt structure as a peninsula. The surrounding cliffs were eroded in contrast, much stronger. Erosion, folding and uplift brought the peninsula in its present form.


Beginning of this century were mined for road parts of the basalt at Yaquina Head, especially for the expansion of the nearby U.S. Highway 101. 1939, the lighthouse was electrified in 1966 and automated in 1980 placed the entire peninsula Yaquina Head nature reserve. The visit of the peninsula is chargeable, some trails and view points are created. Yaquina Head is a popular vantage point to watch gray whales on their migration. These migrate in the winter along the West Coast from the waters off Alaska to the Gulf of California. Between March and May, they move northwards again.