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OregonLive: Cape Blanco Lighthouse sits at farthest west point in Oregon

July 27, 2015

When Horace Greeley famously wrote in 1865, "Go West, young man," was he thinking of Cape Blanco?

Cape Blanco is as far west as you can go in Oregon, though Cape Alava up in Washington holds the honor for the farthest west mainland point in the lower 48 states.

At Cape Blanco, though, you can't go all the way west. You can visit the famous lighthouse, which is the oldest in Oregon, but you can't go to the tip of the cape due to habitat protection by the BLM.

Getting to the tip isn't exactly necessary for someone exploring the wild places of Curry County, but it does leave a void because a you can't see very well why the cape got its name. There is only a small part of a white cliff in view from the parking area.

You will need to go four miles south and view Cape Blanco from Port Orford to see the extent of the white cliffs, which were spotted by a Spanish explorer (blanco means white in Spanish) in 1603 and bears one of Oregon's oldest European names.

Cape Blanco is the setting of an Oregon state park with a campground. Located five miles west of U.S. 101, it's one of the quieter state park camps along the coast and thus one of the gems for campers looking for that kind of experience.

There's also lots to see and do around the cape, in addition to touring the lighthouse (though tower tours are temporarily closed) and pioneer family Hughes House. Hike to the beach by dropping down the cape, north to the Sixes River or south to the Elk River. The Elk River flows down from two designated wilderness areas in this part of the county, the Grassy Knob and the Copper Salmon.

Cape Blanco is also on the newest state scenic bike route, the Wild Rivers Coast Scenic Bikeway.

Terry Richard
503-221-8222; @trichardpdx

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