Where Sea Water Fires Into Air, Oregon Coast Spouting Horns
(Oregon Coast) – They do what seems a bit counter-intuitive for Pacific ocean waves. They go upwards, sometimes straight upwards. They can make a kind of roar or just an odd hissing noise. Some are big, some are small – but they always make an impression. (Above: Cook's Chasm, between Yachats and Florence).
These are the blow holes – or spouting horns – along the Oregon coast. Magnificent ocean fireworks that happen only in a few places and only under the right conditions. Almost always it takes a sizable tide to cause these curiosities to appear, and this usually means you need to stand way clear of them because of the dangers such tides pose. Some are much rarer than others, but all are worth checking out.
There are two spouting horn areas at Yachats. One of them is the better known stretch of the 804 Trail near the Smelt Sands State Park entrance. Walk a tad north and you'll start to see two or three spouting horns firing off. One is a bit more regular than the others and can really rocket ocean water to amazing heights.
At the very southern of Yachats, at Ocean Road, there is a somewhat secret spouting horn – or blow hole - partially so because it doesn't happen all that often. This one doesn't fire off to far into the air, but it makes an intriguing, even loud hissing noise as it does so. Often, it creates quite a mist, however. More on Yachats here.
The most well known spouting horn is at Depoe Bay, which can let loose a major torrent of gushing water, sometimes as high as 20 or 30 feet. It also makes Depoe Bay the only town on the Oregon coast with such a feature in its downtown area.
If conditions are right, it will spray traffic whizzing by, sometimes quite a bit. It's somewhat surreal to find yourself having to use your windshield wipers because of a brief shower of sea water. More about Depoe Bay.
The other big, gnarly blow hole or spouting horn – and likely the most entertaining – is the one south of Yachats at Cook's Chasm. About five miles from town, this one can make a mighty whooshing sound that's way bigger than the usual hiss these things emit. It literally erupts more than fires off.
For fans of the TV show LOST, the Cook's Chasm spouting horn will definitely remind you of the Black Smoke Monster, but like a white version of it.
Particularly engaging is when the sunset hits it just right and the tip gets painted funky colors. More about this area at the Upper Lane County Virtual Tour, Map.
Along the Three Capes Tour, Oceanside has an occasional version of a blow hole – although this sight is rare. However, the oceanic pyrotechnics are awe-inspiring when they do occur.
It's not actually a blow hole, per se. It's really just a chunk of rock at the tip of the headland known as Maxwell Point where the water impacts it at just the right angle to make it shoot upwards. It creates quite the walloping wave and often smacks the rocks with a hefty clapping sound.
Also on the Three Capes area, at Cape Kiwanda, there is a hidden and miniscule spouting horn, lurking in a bowl-like structure located at this sprawling, sandstone wonder. A short walk from the already-strenuous pathway up to the top of this Pacific City gem, a chunk has been carved out into a half-circle shape, almost like a little cove.
At its bottom, you'll notice a large crevice where the sea water comes crashing in, not unlike many chunks of the Yachats area. Between you and that crevice is a sizable flat area with large cracks running through it. One of these sometimes fires up into the air a few inches to a foot or so.
This is rather rare, actually, and not particularly spectacular as compared to the other spouting horns of the Oregon coast. It's really more of a squirt than a spout. Still, it's a funky little surprise. Though you're technically not supposed to go down there, some of the locals have talked about putting small objects onto it and watching the little sea squirt launch the object into the air.
It's even a bit more intriguing when you realize the ocean is actually rushing in underneath and sometimes shooting up through that crack. More about Pacific City and Oceanside at the Three Capes Virtual Tour, Map.
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