In spring, this NWR rings with the cacophonous cries of more than 220,000 nesting common murre. Designated as the first National Wildlife Refuge west of the Mississippi River, Three Arch Rocks Refuge lies a half mile offshore of Oceanside. The refuge comprises three large and six smaller rocks.
The rocks provide habitat for Oregon's largest breeding colony of tufted puffins. These ostentatious birds with their large, bright-orange beaks and long, yellow head tufts, are among the most recognizable seabirds on the Oregon coast. Other seabird species include the fork-tailed storm-petrel, Brandt's cormorant, and pigeon guillemot.
The refuge also is home to the largest breeding colony of common murre south of Alaska. Today, it protects more than a quarter-million nesting seabirds. Three Arch Rocks NWR can best be viewed from the mainland at Cape Meares and in the town of Oceanside.
Cape Meares and Oceanside are located on the Three Capes Scenic Route west of Tillamook. When approaching Tillamook on Highway 101, follow signs for the Three Capes Scenic Route.