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Insanely Cool to Violent Rage: Caves, Chasms of South to Central Oregon Coast

Published 01/11/23 at 7:39 PM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Insanely Cool to Violent Rage: Chasms, Caves from South to Central Oregon Coast

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(Oregon Coast) – One thing is for sure: the Oregon coast is full of holes. (Above: Devil's Churn near Yachats, Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

And thank goodness, too. These large to minor gaps in various places create drama and thrills to no end. There's caves, crevices, major openings, and chasms that can put on an unforgettable show – sometimes complete with weird sounds.

Here's a small sampling from the southern two thirds of the Oregon coast.

Seal Rock's Infamous Groove. Seal Rock State Park, on the central Oregon coast, is a wowing sight, an interesting complex of large to even larger basalt chunks (all some 14 million years old or so). Rounded and jagged points occupy this engaging place.


There's one section near the tideline where the basalt rocks form a small channel that creates a host of fascinating sights. It’s one of the more famous grooves on the Oregon coast: a fairly large gap in the rocks that funnels the tides in, hidden from general view as you walk into the park.

It's especially engaging if there's a lot of foam to the sea, which gets shoved inward at high pressure and then the little blobs of white go scattering in a small blizzard. Sometimes they fly right upwards, looking like snow going the wrong direction. Hotels in Waldport - Where to eat - Waldport, Seal Rock Maps and Virtual Tours

Devil's Churn near Yachats. An even older mass of basalt sits just south of Yachats, actually having originally come from the volcano we now know as Cape Perpetua – a good 30 million years ago.

Down below the towering headland, requiring a bit of a zig-zagging journey to get to, the Devil's Churn is a fiendishly wild sight in storms or even just heavier surf. The great chasm cut into the rock here over millions of years channels all the energy of waves and causes them to careen off its sides and make little-to-larger oceanic explosions along the way.

The place is forceful enough to toss gigantic logs onto the cliff's edge, especially at the back. Stay the hell away from that back area. People wander there all the time (as they are in the photo above) and they simply have been getting lucky all this time. See the area near here that makes wild hissing noises A Natural Maker of Monsters on Central Oregon Coast

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Photo courtesy Bandon Historical Museum / Jim Proehl - Cave of the Winds in the 1880s

Caves of Bandon. It's important to remember thinking about the tides here – which means sometimes this south Oregon coast town has a few caves and sometimes it has none.

When it does, a couple of the coolest are located by Face Rock Scenic Viewpoint. In fact, one of the most famous is right inside the main viewpoint that's above the beach. That's known as Gravel Point.

Cave of the Winds is the biggie, however, with almost as many pics of that floating around as there of Face Rock itself. It's more of a tunnel, really. At one end is the rounder side, facing the surf and making for excellent sunset shots. There, one of the numerous pointy spires descended from larger sea stacks sits, posing for everyone, awaiting that silhouette moment.


Photo courtesy Bandon Historical Museum / Jim Proehl

Another sea cave is more of a tall, thin crack-like shape, which then gives way to incredible tidepools at times along with a slightly claustrophobic walk. It's inside the Cathedral Rock, the massive rock structure in front of Gravel Point and the viewpoint. This one you really have to watch the tides.

A little ways north there's Elephant Rock with yet another massive sea cave, but it's just enough beyond the tideline as to be inaccessible.

For more cave-like oddities, see Kissing Rock on the south coast.


Photo courtesy Manuela Durson - see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more

Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor. There are indeed a lot of arches and massive holes here: from the edges of Secret Beach to especially at the Natural Bridges area. There, a host of interlocking rock islands (and sometimes separate ones) seem to almost form a labyrinth – a kind of slolom course if you were on a boat here.

It's a bit of a steep hike to get down to, and yes sometimes people on social media wander out onto those natural bridges. It's seriously ill-advised, however.

The interesting thing about these gargantuan openings is they're a few different kinds of holes all in one spot. Geologists say these were sea caves, where eventually the tops wore thin and collapsed, leaving arches exposed and bits of rock between. Eventually, most of that will erode away over time.

Someday, this whole area north of Brookings won't exist. That's probably a few thousand years from now, however.

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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