The Sea Lion Caves is a privately owned wildlife preserve and bird sanctuary (since 1932). It is located off HWY 101 about 11 miles north of Florence, Oregon. We have been there twice now, and the boys and cousins love it each time. We also don’t leave without adding to our sea lion stuffed animal collection.
It can be cold and windy, so come prepared. Parking can be interesting. The building and entrance are on the west side of the Hwy with a few parking spots. Most of the parking is just south of the building on the east side of the Hwy around and on the corner. Crossing the Hwy can be interesting, so watch for traffic! There are spots for RV parking. Traffic is usually slow along this stretch, but people do not always pay attention. There is an area to picnic as well by the parking. Parking is free. There is an entrance fee for adults and children over age 4.
Once inside the building, you will pay your entrance fee into the caves. The main building has a lot of trinkets, snacks, and other things to buy.
In order to get to the caves, you will need to go down 37 steps to get to the outside trails. As you walk outside, look down! There are many sea lions hanging out on the rocks at the bottom.
You will continue to walk outside to get to the elevator that takes you down 208 feet inside the cave. There are no stairs you can take down.
From there you descend into the cave. Once in the cave, there are more steps if you want to access the lighthouse view. This is not wheel chair accessible. There are many signs and pieces of information inside the cave in addition to the sea lions. Do note: this is not a zoo. There is nothing to pet, and there is no guarantee that the sea lions will be out anywhere. However, both times we have been there, we were not disappointed.
There are many informational signs to read and a lot to learn. There is also a sea lion skeleton. The cave, for obvious reasons, does not have the most pleasant of smells. The cave is bout 12 stories high and stretches the length of a football field. The cave is at sea level and has three entrances, south, north, and western.
We have always come during July. During the school year, there may be groups of school children.
The sea lions can be quite loud but at this time, there were quiet. One was holding on to something shiny in its mouth. You can hear the wind coming into the cave.
At the opposite end of the cave, are stairs to a beautiful view of Heceta Head Lighthouse. This lighthouse was completed around 1894. Supposedly, it is considered one of the top ten most haunted houses in the U.S.
Of course, in addition to the sea lions, and the lighthouse, the views of the ocean and the coast line are fantastic! There is a lot of wildlife, so be on the look out for the sea lions, sea gulls, cormorants, pigeon guillemot, gray whales, and killer whales.
I enjoy driving along Hwy 101 (in Oregon, its SR 1 in California), or as it is known, the Pacific Coast Hwy (although SR 1 is only part of PCH in CA). This is one of the most amazing stretches in the U.S. If you are in a hurry to get from point A to point B, this is not the road for you. Since there are so many beautiful beaches, turnouts, and stops, traffic is slow. You will want to plan accordingly, and take your time as you take in the beautiful views!
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