Exploring the Oregon Coast
We haven’t beaten the Chinese Virus yet, but many of us are stretching and taking short trips to drive to places on our “must see” list. We spend our summers in Oregon and there is plenty to see along its rugged coast.
Much of the U.S. Oregon coast is made up of miles of pristine sandy beaches. For some, the flat seashore is the perfect place to relax. However, if you crave something a little more exciting, check out the 40 miles of shore line that begins in Waldport, Oregon, and pushes south along twisting Highway 101.
It’s here that nature created Oregon’s most scenic headlands. Lofty volcanic outcroppings that plunge precipitously to the crashing Pacific several hundred feet below.
The best of the stretch is at Cape Perpetua, where the views are so outstanding that the area has been designated a National Scenic Area by the federal government.
Captain James Cook discovered and named Cape Perpetua in 1778. The rugged territory remained virtually unreachable until it became part of the Siuslaw National Forest in 1908.
In 1914, the U.S. Forest Service carved a rough road around the Cape and joined the two small neighboring towns of Yachats and Florence by constructing a wooden bridge across the rushing Yachats River.
By 1930, the road was improve and became part of historic Highway 101 that stretches 1,500 miles from Port Angeles, Washington, to Los Angeles, California.
Thank you CCC
Thanks to the Civilian Conservation Corps, Cape Perpetua has become an important travel destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The CCC was created in 1933 to provide manual labor jobs for thousands of unemployed youth during the Great Depression. They carved the American wilderness to create many of the parks we enjoy today.
The work was hard but equally rewarding as the young participants experienced life in convivial communal encampments – the remains of which are still visible at Cape Perpetua in the forest near the sea.
These were the lucky ones during those hard times. Although most of them are now departed, their lasting legacy of trails and shelters are still in use today. We owe that “Greatest Generation” a debt of gratitude for so many things.
There are three major natural water wonders within a short walk of the parking lot at the Cape Perpetua Visitors Center. Thor’s Well, Spouting Horn, and Devil’s Churn – the most exciting being Thor’s Well.
In simple terms, Thor’s Well is a collapsed underwater volcanic cave that has formed a large round hole on the surface – think very large blow hole.
The hole is about 20 across and 20 feet deep, and during incoming tides and rough seas, the water rushes into the submerged cavern and erupts into a mighty blast of foaming ocean that can easily knock down curious onlookers that venture too close. Immediately after the upward explosion, Thor’s Well dramatically inhales the ocean that it just expelled.
You don’t want to be on the ride back to the sea!
The paths adjacent to the Visitor’s Center are paved for ready access by all. There are a total of 11 trails that offer 27 miles of hiking adventure in this wilderness. It’s about an intermediate level hike across the rocky shoreline and up through the spruce forest to the outlooks. Do it if you can!
If you go
If you drive, there are many fine hotels in the area. If you fly, the nearest reasonable airport is in Eugene – about an hour drive from the quaint little town of Florence on the coast.
“Get out there, but be prepared.”
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Copyright © 2021 Visit great vacation destinations with Wayne and Judy Bayliff
Photos Copyright © 2021 Judy Bayliff
- Posted in: Destinations
- Tagged: Best Oregon Parks, Cape Perpetua, Oregon Coast Drives