Lighthouses obviously serve an important purpose, but for photographers they can also provide awesome opportunities for photographs. The lighthouse and surrounding scenery are often worthy of your attention. Of course, some lighthouses and their surroundings are more spectacular, and more ideal for photographs, than others. In this article we’ll look at 10 lighthouses in the United States that are perfect for photographing.
Pigeon Point Lighthouse, California
Pigeon Point Lighouse stands beautifully on a cliff in central California, about 50 miles south of San Francisco. It is the tallest lighthouse on the west coast, and with the picturesque cliff and coastline it makes an excellent subject for photographs. The area is managed as part of Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park, making it easy to access and photograph. You can’t get into the lighthouse itself, but you can easily get some great shots of the lighthouse. There is also a public beach about 100 yards from the lighthouse.
Heceta Head Lighthouse, Oregon
Heceta Head Lighthouse is along the coast of central Oregon. It sits about half way up a 200-foot headland that rises above the Pacific Ocean. The surrounding coast makes Heceta Head a great lighthouse to photograph. It is managed as part of the Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint. This 50-foot lighthouse is not the tallest, but along with its surroundings it is certainly one of the most scenic.
Split Rock Lighthouse, Minnesota
Split Rock Lighthouse is situated on the north shore of Lake Superior in the state of Minnesota. This lighthouse was built on top of a magnificent 130-foot cliff. Split Rock Lighthouse State Park provides great views and a chance to photograph the lighthouse.
St. Joseph Lighthouse, Michigan
In western Michigan the St. Joseph Lighthouse and pier are located along the shore of Lake Michigan. There are actually outer and inner lighthouses (the outer lighthouse is shown in the photo below). The outer lighthouse and pier are well-known for the ice-covered scene that happens during cold winter months.
Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, Maine
The Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse is on Mount Desert Island within Acadia National Park. The rocky coast and surrounding landscape makes this an ideal lighthouse to photograph. A stairway leads you down the cliff to a great observation point.
Portland Head Light, Maine
The Portland Head Light is located in Cape Elizabeth in southern Maine. It is one of the most photographed and most recognized lighthouses in the United States. Fort Williams Park provides access to photograph the lighthouse and surrounding landscape.
Gay Head Lighthouse, Massachusetts
The Gay Head Lighthouse is on the westernmost point of the island of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. The scenic cliffs nearby make this an excellent opportunity for photographs. The lighthouse is open to the public during the summer and is a popular spot on the island.
Castle Hill Lighthouse, Rhode Island
The Castle Hill Lighthouse is in Newport Road Island on the Narragansett Bay. The lighthouse is closed to the public, but the area is accessible by Ocean Drive and trails from the Castle Hill Cove Marina. The lighthouse is small but quite picturesque along the coast and with the Claiborne Pell Newport Bridge in the background. For details please see our Photographer’s Guide to Castle Hill Lighthouse.
Bodie Island Lighthouse, North Carolina
The Bodie Island Lighthouse is within the Cape Hatteras National Seashore in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It is at the northern end of the national seashore. You can take more than 200 steps to the top of this 165-foot lighthouse is you want to see the view. The distinct black and white stripes of this tall lighthouse make it a great subject for a photograph.
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, North Carolina
Like the Bodie Island Lighthouse, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is also within the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. It is located on Hatteras Island, about 40 miles south of the Bodie Island Lighthouse. At more than 200 feet, it is the tallest brick lighthouse in the United States. It features a nice black and white spiraled stripe pattern that really makes it stand out.