Located roughly midway between Newport and Florence, Cape Perpetua offers endless photo opportunities; indeed, we have covered the climb (or drive) to the top in a previous post. When time or weather don't allow for a long hike, however, there is plenty to see right beside Highway 101. Driving south from the little village of Yachats, the highway quickly climbs a shoulder of the cape, providing stunning ocean views. Sweep around a few narrow, shoulderless curves and watch on your right for the parking lot beside Devil's Churn (please be aware that this lot, like many others here, requires a parking pass or $5 day-use fee which is good for the entire area). Look over the cliff at the north end of the lot; ocean waves rush and swirl dramatically inside a long slot in the rock. There is a wheelchair-accessible viewpoint, and a trail takes intrepid hikers down to the edge of the chasm; stay well back from the edge, as waves are unpredictable and very powerful. The Churn is a must-see following a storm, when surging water explodes against the walls of the slot. The deep, reverberating "boom" when each wave hits the end of the chasm is a good reminder of just how powerful the ocean is.
|Thor's Well, and a very soggy photographer!
Before we leave this parking lot, there is one more sight to see. To the north of Cook's Chasm, out toward the edge of the rock shelf, you can see a large hole: a collapsed sea cave. This is the famous Thor's Well, and you are likely to see a photographer or two dodging waves while trying for that perfect shot. Depending on wind and tide you may see nothing but a big hole, or water surging up and then pouring back down the walls of the hole, or a huge fountain with every wave. In any case, be safe and keep an eye out for sneaker waves.
|Trail of the Restless Waters
Year-round camping is available to the north at Tillcum Beach, which has ocean views and easy access to a long, level, sandy beach. To the south, Alder Dune is always open; there are two small, trout-stocked lakes and forested trails here. Both of these campgrounds have reservable sites, and both can fill quickly on the weekends, so plan ahead if possible.
While traveling the coast, don't rush on through just because the weather is unsettled and you don't have time for a long hike. Highway 101 abounds with opportunities to pause and enjoy the amazing beauty of our coastline. Cape Perpetua is one of these places, a magnificent site where you can spend five minutes or five hours exploring with the Pacific Ocean as your backdrop.
|Cape Cove Beach
|Bridge at the Chasm
|More soggy photographers at Thor's Well