America’s Largest Sea Cave

Just 11 miles due north of Florence on the Oregon Coast is America’s largest sea cave. Carved out of an ice-age beach seafloor of basalt by the powerful waves of the Pacific Ocean hitting on fracture zones in the hard rock, this massive cave is the year around home to about 200 Stellar Sea Lions.

Discovered in 1880 by Oregon ship captain William Cox, this cave is estimated to have started forming 25 million years ago. It is now 12 stories high. Originally access to the cave was by a trail a quarter of a mile long, very steep, and, 250 stairs. In 1961 elevator access was installed with great difficulty and expense. This gave access to everyone instead of just the hearty few who were able to hike and climb.


In spring and summer the sea lions are outside the cave sunning themselves on the rocks, swimming and diving for fish. They seek shelter in the cave during fall and winter. Pups are born in late spring to early summer.


 The above view can be seen from the south side viewing deck in the photo below.


When visiting in the cave, be prepared for interesting smells as well as viewing the sea lions. Not the best smells you’ve ever encountered.


A variety of ocean life can be found at the Sea Lion Caves. This is a great place for bird-watching.


On the north side of the cave viewing platform is a photo op of the most photographed lighthouse in the world. Heceta Head Lighthouse (see previous blog about this lighthouse). It is framed by the inside of this part of the cave and it’s difficult to be here and not take several shots of the lighthouse. It can also be seen and photographed well from in front of the gift shop.


Access to the cave is through the gift shop but don’t forget to visit in the gift shop for many fun, beautiful and unique gift items. It’s actually a great place to do some Christmas shopping.


Come stay with us at Umpqua River Haven and visit the Sea Lion Caves about an hour’s drive away along the beautiful Oregon Coast.


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