Cape Perpetua

image Headlands, and Promontories, and Capes… Oh my!

Just 8 miles south of Waldport lies the village of Yachats, pronounced ya-hots. And a few miles south of Yachats is the 2,700-acre Cape Perpetua Scenic Area with 26 miles of hiking trails leading to spectacular vistas, old growth rain forests, tidal pools, and evidence of Native American use dating back more than 2,000 years. (visittheoregoncoast.com)

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According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Siuslaw National Forest brochure from the Visitor Center, the Cape Perpetua Headland, towering over 800 feet above the shoreline, is the highest viewpoint accessible by car on the Oregon coast.

And according to the geographical definition of “cape” from en.m.wikipedia.org, a cape is a headland, a type of large promontory jutting into a body of water, usually the sea. Referring to the same source for my information, allow me to explain these terms in my own words, sort of. A promontory is a land mass of something that is high and steep on one side. A headland is a high point of land with a steep drop off that extends into a body of water, like the ocean. It is a type of promontory. A large headland is often referred to as a cape.


Trivia question… What then, is the difference between the geographical terms cape and bay?


An Aside… If you are a word nerd or just curious about the history of the usage of familiar vocabulary terms and want to learn more, check out mashedradish.com, an everyday etymology blog by John Kelly.

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Did I forget to mention that John is also my son? Oops!

Notice that he is drinking a mug of coffee. I too have a mug in my hand on my posts. But I’m not drinking coffee or tea. I am toasting you with a mug of wine!


From the Visitor Center we head south to see 3 spectacular rock and water configurations right on the coastline. Spouting Horn, Cook’s Chasm  and Thor’s Well can be reached from a .4 mile loop beside the highway.

As we descend onto the beach, I capture a view of Cook’s Chasm.

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Spouting Horn is here too but we can’t see it because it isn’t performing right now. It’s low tide.

Below is a picture of the horn spouting courtesy of Bob Thompson.

image bobthompson.me

The beach below is like no other I have ever seen.

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Notice Cook’s Chasm on the far left in the picture below.

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We trudge through silk-like sand giving our calves a good workout. Then we traipse over the rocks to take more pictures.

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We approach what we think is Thor’s Well

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and wait…

Is that the well spouting in the background?

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We are happy just to capture the low tide displays.

But here’s what a full blast of Thor’s Well looks like.

image behindtheviewfinder.com

So, I’m sorry to say, we were there, but we don’t know where Thor located his Well.


As we head back north to Waldport and McKinley’s Marina and RV Park, we make a final stop at the Devil’s Churn Info Center, viewpoint, and .4 mile loop. Again we descend to get a peek of the coastal phenomenon.

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At high tide it looks more like this:

image photos.cleveland.com

We complete the .4 mile loop as we return to our car. The views on this short trail are just as spectacular!

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Although Native Americans lived along this coastal headland over 6,000 years ago, explorer Captain James Cook first observed the cape in 1778 on one of his voyages searching for a northwest passage connecting the northen Atlantic to the Pacific via the Arctic Ocean. (en.m.wikipedia.org) Did you get all that?

If his name sounds familiar it may be because he is the same adventurer I referred to in my post, Depoe Bay. He also named Cape Foulweather on that same voyage.

image australiangeographic.com.au

And why did he name it Cape Perpetua? Because the day he first spotted the promontory was March 7, 1778, the feast day of the martyr and Saint, Perpetua.


Trivia question answer…

A cape is surrounded on 3 sides by water and a bay is surrounded on 3 sides by land.

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