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Video: Watery Chaos of Oregon Coast's Cook Chasm, Thor's Well

Published 05/01/2018 at 5:25 PM PDT - Updated 05/01/2018 at 5:55 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection Staff

(Yachats, Oregon) – Beneath the ever-present, looming gaze of towering Cape Perpetua, on the central Oregon coast, a wild chunk of watery chaos exists that constantly wows and awes. The Cook’s Chasm and marine gardens areas, just a tad south of Yachats, provide more oceanic pyrotechnics than most parts of this shoreline, between the stalwart basalt shelves, the legendary opening called Thor’s Well, and the spouting horn.

It’s an unruly place of many dangers, however, and there come with it plenty of warnings.


This mere 25-mile stretch between Florence and Yachats is filled with numerous tight curves atop high cliffs which create a never-ending cavalcade of amazing ocean views. If the weather is rough, there's plenty to see along this route. And if it's anything but rough, it's among the most pristine and uncrowded sections of all the Oregon coast.

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A little ways south of Yachats, you begin the climb towards Cape Perpetua and the Devil's Churn, as blackened basalt shelves meander between you and the sea in various, unidentifiable shapes. A bit beyond the Perpetua entrance, right at the Lane County / Lincoln County border, you’ll find a bridge and the Cook’s Chasm signage that signals you’ve arrived.

A series of black, jagged and slightly bulbous rocky platforms fill the eyes between you and the sea. You enter via a long, paved path that involves a little switch-backing, bringing you to a viewing platform that’s directly above the Cook’s Chasm Spouting Horn, and a ways away from the marauding, monstrous waves of the basalt edges and Thor’s Well. This is where the beautiful chaos happens.

To the north, more basalt ledges stretch out into the sea, and this section often takes the biggest brunt of wave batterings. They seem to explode and then leap out of nowhere: it’s frighteningly beautiful.

Look straight out west and you see Thor’s Well bubbling and gurgling its sea water contents, and most of the time it too gets slapped by some big breakers.

The most impressive feature is the spouting horn, where, if conditions are right, it fires off ocean water into the air like a geyser, often making a startling hissing noise. If you’re lucky, at sunset the light hits the column of water just right and it is painted in bright, striking colors. Few things are more engaging than seeing the spouting horn lit up like a surreal Christmas tree or a giant glowstick. You can see more of that below, including video.

This is also an extremely dangerous place. Locals have become extremely frustrated with the lack of caution in this spot, where people think they’re invincible. Everyday, Yachats residents say they encounter at least one or two people trudging too close to the edges, often in search of the perfect shot. Especially Thor’s Well. They see about half of those get hit with large waves. At least two have died here since 2011, and it’s really by sheer luck that more haven’t.

Those waves are much bigger and more powerful than you think. A good rule of thumb is if you see a large pool of water on those rocks, the waves have been smacking there. That means if you stand there, you have a greater chance of getting knocked over by one of those errant tumblers. It’s only a matter of time before another hits.


There’s also the possibility one of those waves is carrying a large object like a log.

Stay clear of where the waves are smacking – and stay at least 20 feet away from the ledges. In fact, resident Ken Gagne has been making signs warning of these dangers – although so far they have not been placed at the site itself but instead only in town. Oregon Coast Lodgings for this event - Where to eat - Map and Virtual Tour

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