Cape Perpetua is in Lincoln County on the U.S. Oregon Pacific coast two miles south of the small town of Yachats, population approximately 700. It marks the point where a low spur protrudes into the ocean, and stubbornly holds back the rollers coming in. This wild and rather isolated space forms part of the Suislaw National Park the U.S. Forest Service administers as a recreational green lung.
The original population hunted for over six thousand years in search of clams, crabs, mussels, and sea urchins, and they left huge piles of shells behind that you can still see at the visitor centre. Captain Cook named it for the saint’s day on which he found it while searching for the northwest passage.
Come and See the Secrets of Cape Perpetua, Oregon
The U.S. Forest Service welcomes visitors to Cape Perpetua on the Oregon coast all year round with a wealth of hiking trails deep into old growth forests. Sightseeing, camping, picnicking, hiking and whale watching are popular pursuits. Those preferring their overnight creature comforts may find accommodation in nearby Yachats, although with small country towns it is always better to book ahead.
The Devil’s Churn, But Wait for Thor’s Well
There are also lovely walks to take along the coastline, and perhaps pop by the visitor centre to take in fine Pacific Ocean views including whales not far out to sea. During the hours before and after high tide, the directions and the size of swells can be dramatic depending on the wind speed. Then, each ocean wave literally explodes after it enters a long crack in coastal rock called Devil’s Churn, and recedes to meet the next one.
A little further on, Thor’s Well awaits to excite, enthral, amaze, and astound at high tide, with an apparently bottomless sinkhole into which each successive wave pours, and vanishes. While really only twenty feet deep, this natural attraction is dangerous with rescue an unsure hope. So no risky selfies please, keep your distance, and listen to the ranger.
Cape Perpetua is a lovely, peaceful spot, with much to see and do, and great picnic places. The visitor centre is a little gem, with expansive cultural and natural history displays, a bookshop, a small movie house showing nature films, and an interactive children’s science zone. But of course the real attraction for adrenaline seekers is Thor’s Well.