Marine Garden Refuge


Because Haystack Rock is a Marine Garden (Oregon,1990) and a National Wildlife Refuge (United States, 1976), there are rules that the Oregon and US Departments of Fish and Wildlife enforce and that many others (like HRAP) enforce on their behalf. If you can remember three things when you visit Haystack Rock, remember:


That last “NO” might need an explanation: harassing is any activity that causes an animal (or plant) undue stress, injury, or death. Common examples of harassment are: poking anemones, stepping on barnacle rocks, and prying mussel shells and sea stars (starfish) off the rocks. Other kinds of harassment include: trampling tidepools, entering the refuge (especially during nesting season) or approaching seals/seal pups that are resting near the rocks or on the beach.

More information: Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife

What are the boundaries of the Marine Garden?

The Marine Garden includes the rocky area in front of Haystack Rock that is exposed at low tide AND all the tide pools and sand beaches between the mean high tide line (the barnacle line) and an extreme low tide line, a 300-yard radius from the base of Haystack Rock. Keep in mind that 300 yards about as long as THREE football fields.  This entire area is CLOSED to collecting.

What are the Refuge boundaries?

The Refuge includes everything above the mean high tide line (the barnacle line) and goes all the way up to 500 feet (152 meters) above the rock. Managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, rules have been in place for nearly forty years to protect people from climbing hazards and falling rock. It also protects the seabirds (especially ground-nesting seabirds) that nest on the rock.

This means there is no climbing allowed on Haystack Rock.  It also means there can be no low flying aircraft (including gliders and non-passenger flying devices) near the rock.  In fact, the US Fish and Wildlife Service recommends pilots maintain a 2,000 Above Ground Level altitude to make sure they do not disturb nesting seabirds.


Most violations of the wildlife laws and regulations are Class A Misdemeanors, punishable by a maximum $5000 fine and a maximum sentence of confinement to the county jail of one year. There is no scheduled bail, and a mandatory court appearance is required if the violation is charged as a Class A Misdemeanor. Violations not charged as Class A Misdemeanors due to the absence of culpable mental state, or at the direction of the district attorney, have the following bail schedule:

  • $75 Violations that do not involve the “taking” of wildlife
  • $150 Violations that involve the “taking” of non-game animals or game birds, and size or quantity limits for fish and shellfish, except salmon, steelhead and sturgeon.
  • $299 Violations that involve the “taking” of salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, and wildlife not otherwise provided and all other wildlife offenses.

A Blast from the Past

1968-10Click here for a PDF of a Seaside Signal article from October 10, 1968 detailing the dynamiting of our beloved monolith. “Haystack Rock will be more difficult for the novice mountain climber as a result of the blast,” it reads, “that knocked off the lower end of the ledge by which most climbers started up the rock.” The blast was done to protect climbers from themselves, and nesting seabirds from human disturbance.


Click here for PDF of a July 9, 1968 Oregonian photo showing the establishment of signs prohibiting climbing on the Rock.

Many thanks to the Cannon Beach Historical Society for these wonderful windows to the past.