There are few landscapes as picturesque as a lighthouse along a rocky coast. This iconic view conjures up quaint coastal towns and peaceful afternoons along the shore.
National Lighthouse Day, which encourages the preservation of these historic structures, takes place annually on August 7. To celebrate, let’s take a tour of some of the spectacular lighthouses on public lands.
Lighthouses were built to help sailors safely navigate the waters. Today, many lighthouses, such as the Piedras Blancas Light Station, serve as historic parks and wildlife sanctuaries.
The Light Station is named for the distinctive white rocks that loom just offshore. These rocks and the rugged shoreline are home to seabirds, sea lions and elephant seals. Over 70 native plant species can be found on the 19 acres surrounding the Light Station.
The Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse remains an active aid to navigation and is one of only thirteen of the original First Order lens still in use in the United States. Located in Florida within the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Outstanding Natural Area (ONA), the site has served as one of the first U.S. Weather Bureau and Signal Stations, a U.S. Navy Wireless Station, Radio Compass Station and a successful German U-boat tracking station during World War II.
Besides visiting the historic Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse, you can take a walk through native and restored coastal habitats or participate in exciting interpretive programs regarding the site’s important role in World War II and its unique military history.
From exploring tide pools teeming with life to witnessing Oregon’s tallest lighthouse, there is something for every visitor at Yaquina Head. Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area extends out from the Oregon coast — one mile into the Pacific Ocean.
Standing 93 feet tall at the westernmost point of the basalt headland, the Yaquina Head Lighthouse has been a bright beacon of the night, guiding ships and their supplies along the west coast since the light was first lit in 1873.
The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin contains one of the largest collections of lighthouses in the country.
The "Showplace of the Apostle Islands" is the Raspberry Island Lighthouse. In operation since 1863, the Raspberry Island Lighthouse is the most readily accessible of the Apostle Island light stations. During the summer season, rangers conduct tours of the historic tower. Close to the mainland, the island is a popular destination for skilled sea kayakers and private boaters who are prepared for the challenges of Lake Superior.
Unlike any other place on Lake Superior, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan offers the opportunity to explore miles of pristine beaches, hike nearly 100 miles of trails, view towering sandstone cliffs and experience the serenity of northern woodlands.
The Au Sable Light Station stands on Au Sable Point on the south shore of Lake Superior, approximately 12 miles west of Grand Marais, Michigan.
The Bass Harbor Head Light Station is in Tremont, Maine, marking the entrance to Bass Harbor and Blue Hill Bay on the southwest corner of Mount Desert Island.
Of the nearly 80 lighthouses in Maine, few are accessible by vehicle. Acadia National Park manages three lighthouses within the park. Bass Harbor Head Light Station is the only one readily accessible to visitors by vehicle.