After three days of scenic driving up the west coast, a little more than 1/2 way from San Francisco to Seattle, we woke up in the quaint little city of Florence, OR. We knew that if we got up early and made the 20-minute drive to Sea Lion Caves first thing, we’d get there before the hordes of tourists descended. What we didn’t realize was that we’d also arrive before the fog lifted…
The entrance to Sea Lion Caves is through a gift shop, perched on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. The parking lot on the other side of the narrow highway seemed to be connected to the gift shop by a cloud that had settled in the night before and had not yet bothered to wake. The humidity must have been a cool 100%. Our discipline paid off, we were the first paying customers to walk through the condensation-covered front door.
Even when shrouded in fog, my memories of a childhood visit 22 years earlier began to flood back. So much of “America’s Largest Sea Cave” remained unchanged in that time. Of course, there is a gift shop and an elevator and signs and educational displays and coin-operated binoculars and railings and boardwalks, but Sea Lion Caves is still very much an all-natural attraction. The real draw is the combined roar of the ocean and uncountable sea lions.
From the gift shop, we walked down a sloped and wet walkway, careful not to slip, and then to the elevator that descends through 63 meters of rock. The elevator stops at the highest entrance to the cave, and when you walk through the door, you can hear the rumble of the sea lions in the distance. This is a must-see spot on the North American west coast.
When you visit, ask the staff lots of questions, members of the same two families have been caretakers of this site for nearly 80 years, you might be pleasantly surprised at what you learn!