Three Arch Rocks, Oceanside

Three Arch Rocks National Wildlife Refuge consists of 15 acres (6 ha) on three large and six small rocky islands located about a 0.5 mile (1 km) offshore from the community of Oceanside, Oregon. It is one of the smallest designated wilderness areas in the U.S., but features the largest colony of breeding tufted puffins and the largest common murre colony south of Alaska.

Three Arch Rocks, once called the Three Brothers, are massive arched sea stacks composed of Miocene Columbia River basalts. These Grande Ronde basalts erupted from volcanic fissures in southeastern Washington and northeastern Oregon 15.6 to 16.8 million years ago and flowed over large parts of Washington and Oregon, down what is now the Columbia River drainage, and all the way to the coast. Three Arch Rocks were once part of Maxwell Point before wave erosion separated them into individual sea stacks.

Three Arch Rocks is the oldest National Wildlife Refuge west of the Mississippi River, created as a result of the efforts of two early wildlife photographers and conservationists, William Finley, Oregon’s first State Biologist, and Herman Bohlman, a nature photographer. Concerned about egg gathering and the wildlife devastation brought about by marine mammal hunting and the killing of seabirds by local sport shooters, Finley and Bohlman began to study and photograph The Arches in 1901 to support the establishment of a wildlife sanctuary. During the summer of 1903, after several failed attempts, they rowed a dory to Shag Rock where they camped for fourteen days, photographing birds. Later that year, Finley took the photographs to Washington and personally showed them to President Theodore Roosevelt, lobbying for protection of the birds. The Three Arch Wildlife Refuge was established by Roosevelt on October 14, 1907. Read more here and here. Download the latest version and open the CoastView app to explore more of Three Arch Rocks and Oceanside here: