Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Cape Perpetua - Land of Big Splashes

Besides Heceta Head Lighthouse, the other destination on my coastal mini-vacation was Cape Perpetua.  A marine wonderland of tidepools, rugged rocky shoreline, and spouting waves, this designated National Scenic Area is a "must-see" for anyone traveling the central Oregon Coast.

Foggy coastal morning

After trying to catch the sunrise, (which turned out to be a dud) I headed north on Hwy 101 in hopes of capturing early morning light at Cape Perpetua.  On my way, I pulled off at a scenic little parking area for a few quick images of the morning fog rolling out.

High tide + waves = big splashes

Then it was on to my destination.  Arriving at 8 am, an hour before it's "official" opening, I had the place to myself.  Although this coastline is rimmed by a lovely old-growth forest with many great trails, that wasn't the reason I was here.  It was high tide, and I was looking for wave action.

Interesting shore rocks

The jagged volcanic rocks lining Cape Perpetua's shoreline were most scenic.  As the sun rose over the adjacent headland, it lit up the water with some gorgeous light.  The foamy waves became bright white, the water, a lovely royal blue.

Waves traveling up a rock crack

Inside these craggy, basalt rocks were lots of cracks and fissures.  When waves traveled far enough up these, wonderful huge splashes were the result.  Incoming high tide made for a spectacular water show.

Cook's Chasm rainbow

A couple of the larger openings actually had names.  One, called Cook's Chasm, was fun to watch.  Incoming waves would hit it's steep rocky walls, and splash upwards most dramatically.  The retreating mist sometimes created a lovely rainbow.   If the wave was strong enough, it got funneled into an adjacent hole, and spouted out like a geyser.

After several tries at photographing the splashing waves and rainbows at Cook's Chasm, I remembered my GoPro.  A movie captures the action so much better!  (This is best viewed at full screen)

Nice morning light on the water

After spending a good two hours wandering around the rocky shoreline, I hiked back to the road, and headed to another nearby attraction - Devil's Churn.

Devil's Churn

Devil's Churn started out as long crack in the lava, but many years of pounding wave action have  eroded it into a wide slot.  It fills with each incoming surge, the larger waves crashing into it's rocky terminus.  Things got exciting when incoming and outgoing waves collided, exploding into tall, frothy fountains.

A switchbacking trail takes visitors down to the very base of this churning slot.  But first, I captured some footage of the action from above.  (Please view at full screen - and ignore my dorky comments)

Lots of good splashes at Devil's Churn

After several minutes watching the swirling waters from the upper viewpoint, I rambled down to trail's end - on the very banks of this active water feature.

Although I saw a few people venture to the very edge of the churn, I kept a comfortable distance.  The action was just as good from there - and much safer!  Here's another video I took of some up-close wave power.

Staircase to the beach

Watching those waves rip into this narrow canyon and crash together was mesmerizing.  I don't know how long I lingered here, entertained by the moving waters.  But finally, I tore myself away, and continued along the loop trail to another rocky beach.  A steep staircase led visitors to the water's edge.

More big splashes

Some outlying rocks were catching the waves, creating more huge splashes.  I hung out for awhile, taking yet more pictures, until a grumbling stomach, and the hot midday sun reminded me that it was time for a break.

Obligatory wildflower photo

Low tide was scheduled at 3:00 that day, so I decided to come back then and explore the tidepools.

Cape Perpetua at low tide

Returning later that afternoon, it was remarkable to see the difference between low and high tide.  All the rocks that were underwater that morning, were now very much exposed.  A rocky, jagged plain stretched far out from the main bluffs.  The retreating water meant no big splashes.

Slimy green algae

I'd hoped to explore the tidepools in search of sea creatures.  There was supposed to be some good ones to view.  But as I wandered amongst the sharp, slippery rocks, I didn't see a single critter.

Picturesque highway bridge

There were a few wildflowers blooming in the adjacent grassy slopes.  And the view under this highway bridge was sort of scenic.

Adventurous young people near the waves

But after the morning's rowdy wave action, low tide was kind of a disappointment.  I wandered along the shoreline looking for photo subjects.  This group of young men, inching extremely close to the water's edge was about as exciting as it got - especially when one guy turned his back on the ocean, fixated on his phone.

Low tide exposes the rock

Although some people got right out on those rocks, I decided I wasn't comfortable being so close to the water.  One slip, and I'd get pulled out to sea.  Besides, it was hot down by the water's edge, and my early morning was starting to catch up with me.

View from above

One final trip before dinner, I drove to the top of the adjacent bluff to take in a view of Cape Perpetua from above.  The Civilian Conservation Corp had built an impressive stone shelter at the very top.  Looking through it's arched windows framed a nice vista of the mighty Pacific Ocean, stretching out for miles.

Stone shelter over the sea

Then it was a short trip to Yachats, for an iced chai frappuccino before returning to my yurt for some rest and dinner.  I still had one more item on my coastal wish list to fulfill that day - capturing a sunset.

Check my next post to see what I find!

Sharing with:  Wednesday Around the World and Our World Tuesday.


  1. You captured some breathtaking images.
    A wonderful post I thoroughly enjoyed!

  2. Stayed a wee bit longer... to admire your images for a second time.
    Did you get that sunset... I bet you did!

  3. Will definitely check back for more, since I really enjoyed your latest outing. That stone shelter over the sea image is really amazing. What a gorgeous place.

    Mersad Donko Photography

  4. This is a fantastic and well documented look round.

  5. This is a beautful coast line with wonderful waes crashing in over the rocks.

  6. These look like some really amazing areas to visit. I have to say that I am jealous of the beauty that you have at your fingertiips daily. Oregon has such amazing scenery, and love how you spend so much time seeking it out and sharing it. I love the waves and especially in the early morning. such beauty. I am heading for Hawaii in a couple of weeks and am so looking forward to the beauty of the ocean! Love your travels and photos

  7. What fabulous shots, Linda. That rainbow in the chasm was just a gem. Great trip.

  8. Very nice - I love exploring tide pools

  9. Linda, these are beautiful captures and views of Oregon's gorgeous coastline. Some of these spots I visited during my trip there, lovely memories. Awesome post!

  10. What a great place to explore - but you always have to keep an eye on the sea in such places!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne (briefly)

  11. I'd keep back a bit too...always gotta watch out for those rogue waves!

    Living in San Diego for 50 years I've done a fair amount of tidepooling and over the years the sealife has diminished dramatically in those tidepools. I wonder if the same is happening in OR? A few years ago we had fabulous tidepooling at Cape Arago.

  12. Another gorgeous and soothing series, Linda, thank you! I can almost hear and smell the water! :)

  13. Oooooo! Ahhhhh! What wonderful wonderful pictures, Linda. Your lens has been working overtime but don't let it take a break. :-)

  14. So much wonderful proof that the Oregon coast is gorgeous!

  15. Linda, wonderful photos to share this morning. I love the rocky beaches with the breaking waves.

  16. Such beautiful photos! That is a really pretty purple wildflower...I have no idea what it is...but I liked it! :)

  17. I love all that wave action - sometimes I really miss living near the ocean. I'd want to venture onto those rocks!

  18. I've seen Cannon Beach a few times look like the first picture. The coast sure is beautiful/ Tom The Backroads Traveller

  19. Oh I really love that area! Have to get back there someday. My friend has a vacation rental down that way.

  20. Great captures! I don't know what it is about it but I especially love the 'Slimy green algae' shot. Just something about it.

  21. Fabulous post. I just love the coast but so seldome get to visit. I enjoyed the Devils Churn video, reminded me of visiting a place called the Devils Punchbowl on the OR coast.

  22. How neat to see a rainbow among the rocks-love it. And, the fog, even if it hid your sunrise is wonderful and magical and quite lovely!
    Blessings, Aimee
    PS: Love that stone shelter--what a view!

  23. Hi! Very fantastic trip! Your Cook's Chasm rainbow is very cool. I enjoyed your videos too. The splashes would make rainbows, It looks like a miracle. Thanks for sharing.

  24. Marvellous scenery Linda and a great capture of the rainbow and wave splashes. Thank you for sharing this part of our world. Happy weekend!

  25. fabulous scenery. great images.

  26. I enjoyed every minute of this post. Would love to see a chasm rainbow by the sea. Thanks for the little videos, I'm happy someone else shares my love of watching the sea rush into narrow gaps. It's fun guessing which wave will be the big one and make a huge splash. The beach looks great at low tide, too.

  27. シ Olá, amiga!
    Passei para admirar suas fotografias.
    Paisagens deslumbrantes, um super encontro com a natureza selvagem.

    Bom fim de semana, com tudo de bom para todos!

  28. Gorgeous! I love the waves and the big splashes.

  29. Now I know what your voice sounds like! Looks like fun out there.

  30. Cape Perpetua is one of my favorite places. We always made time to climb down on the rocks at Devil's Churn and watch the waves slam through the slot and shoot up at the end. It's such a wild, fun place!


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