Summer in the Pacific Northwest is the ideal time to explore the coast. A visit to the coast is nice anytime, but summer brings warmer temperatures, fewer storms, and some picture-perfect days to take in sweeping views of cliffs and sea. Our rocky, rugged coast dotted with artsy seaside towns, and rising up next to the cold blue ocean, where you can sometimes catch sight of whales, seals and sea lions is breathtaking. One of the best places to take in all this beauty is Cape Perpetua in the Siuslaw National Forest.
If you like to hike, this place is for you. With 26 miles of trails that run through old-growth forest out to the ocean there’s really a trail to meet every need. On one hike you can see tide pools, on another take in a 600-year old, 185-foot, giant Sitka spruce. The base of this tree is amazingly huge and offer a great photo op. Keep in mind this is the coast, it rains, or at least mists, regularly, so be prepared to get your shoes muddy or even soak through to your socks. Slog on though because the views and sights are worth it.
It’s loud, it sprays up into the air, and if you’re lucky you can watch those nearby who are unsuspecting, jump and gasp in surprise.
A unique feature to the rugged Oregon coast is its saltwater fountains. Thor’s Well is the most well-known. When you time the tides just right it appears that the ocean is draining through a giant hole in the rocks with the water maybe running to the center of the earth. It’s not just a slow drain, but a dramatic rush of huge amounts of water sucking into the hole. Turns out it’s just running out of another hole deeper down in the rock, but the sight is amazing.
A similar idea to Thor’s Well is Devil’s Churn. A crack in the rocks fills with waves but instead of the filling being dramatic it’s the collision of incoming and outgoing waves that’s provides the drama--an explosion of water! It’s loud, it sprays up into the air, and if you’re lucky you can watch those nearby who are unsuspecting, jump and gasp in surprise. Fun stuff.
If I haven’t mentioned it before, the coast is where you can see whales! If the sight of a spout or tail, or for those lucky few who see a breach, doesn’t make you squeal like a four-year-old and leave you content to stand in one spot for hours, then you are either a coastal resident or a fisherman. Visitors who don’t get the opportunity to see whales every day view sightings as a big bonus of a trip to the sea and Cape Perpetua offers ideal whale spotting. Seeing a whale takes patience and luck, but you’ll often know when one is around simply by the group of people, pointing, holding binoculars, and frantically yelling “WHALE”. Even those who think if you’ve seen one spout you’ve seen them all, probably feel some small sense of awe though they may not admit it.