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Devil of a Good Time on Oregon Coast: Heavenly Places with Hellish Names

Published 11/28/20 at 5:15 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Devil of a Good Time on Oregon Coast: Heavenly Places with Hellish Names

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(Oregon Coast) – Early Oregonians had a flair for the dramatic when it came to naming new places at times. Many locales seemed to test the limits of settlers here and therefore got saddled with monikers that were straight out of the still-far-off invention of horror movies.

The devil had his hand in a lot of things on the Oregon coast, apparently. The horned-and-hooved apparition got to sign off on some of the most beautiful spots along these beaches, from south to north.

Devil's Churn, Yachats. (Photo Above). Far below the towering Cape Perpetua, there's a great crevice in the ancient black basalt where the tides pummel inward and regularly cause a ruckus. It's more unusual to see the Devil's Churn in a calm state, with chaos being the norm at this scenic wonder just south of Yachats.

You reach the Devil's Churn via a long, switch-backing walkway, taking you down over 100 feet the long and winding route. There, people have a habit of daring the unruly tides a little too often, trudging far too close as waves wallop the black rock and sometimes smack humans. It's a wonder no one's been hurt here.

There are plenty of times you can't approach the Churn and only watch it from above. These tidal monsters can be spectacular and elegant – but dangerous. Note: the official name may or may not be Devil's or "Devils" - some official agencies list both.

Devil's Punchbowl, Depoe Bay. An ancient sea cave that was part of an 18-million-year-old bedrock called the Astoria Formation one day – probably long before mankind got here - became a giant bowl when the roof caved in. Then, the swirling cauldron of a writhing sea became visible, and somewhere along the line acquired the name Satan's Cauldron first, then becoming the Devil's Punchbowl.

Ironically, this chaotic sight doesn't happen that often and the place lives up to its name only on stormier days.

Devil's Lake, Lincoln City. The relative calmness of this placid place just a ways inland belies its name, except on a few occasions when the sky darkens, the winds pick up and the waters can become unruly. It's purportedly named after similar words in the local tribal language, who had a legend of a monster living here.

Devil's Lake is a popular spot for water sports and water craft, making for a wildly fun attraction within a city that's already an attraction in itself.

Devil's Cauldron, Manzanita. Hands down the most truly devilish and dangerous place on the Oregon coast with such a name, the Devil's Cauldron lurks hidden in a spot just beyond a gravel pullover next to Neahkahnie Mountain. Here, there's a giant, almost tubular hole in the cliffs that allows you to see straight down to hellish surf a few hundred feet below. People have died in and around this spot, including the co-creator of the show COPS in the early 2000s. It's not a place to be trifled with.

Still, it's also one of the more stunning viewpoints along the whole of the coast, and you ironically get to see the oddball Pulpit Rock jutting up from the surf here. You also get closer glimpses of the intriguing Cube Rock.

Seven Devils State Recreation Site, Bandon. Somewhere between Coos Bay and Bandon, your trip along the southern Oregon coast must take a hard turn westward turn in order to make it to this fascinating and oft-overlooked beach. You take Seven Devils Road, which does indeed get a tad trying on occasion, ending up at what is known as Merchant Beach.

Here, there's miles of sand either direction, with blob-like cliffs of green in one area while other parts turn a bright gold at dusk. These granules are known for sometimes piling up and then getting sculpted by the wind into engaging patterns. Sprawling Cape Arago extends to the north and Bullards Beach State Park lies a ways to the south.

There's another Agate Beach around one bend – the better-known one is at Newport.

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Devils Kitchen - Oregon State Parks Vista Point. It's “Devils,” plural – not “devil's,” just like the above Seven Devils. Besides being an intricate and fascinating place to hang out, with varied distractions and attractions, it's also the home to the third and lesser-known Haystack Rock.

It's a short walk from the southern Oregon coast's Bandon's Face Rock State Park, where that mysterious sentinel of stone has been peering up from the sea since time immemorial. The centerpiece of Devils Kitchen is the massive flat-topped rock that you can climb at times (depending on tidal conditions), whereas the largest feature sits in back: the actual Haystack Rock. A variety of tidepools lurk below the accessible rock, where colors explode in multiple shades, where colonies of barnacles, anemones, urchin and all kinds of other kooky creatures create a whole micro universe of intense color.

Other blob-like rocks dot this landscape, offering more opportunities to climb and be slightly adventurous. One section has a set of curiously-gouged rock slopes and sizable crevice-covered structures that look as if maybe they missed out on being part of Stonehenge.

Above it all, if it's too stormy to go down, there is gobs of beachgrass, a picnic table, a bench and plenty of higher viewpoints from which to watch the glorious tidal chaos.

Bonus spots: There is also Devil's Elbow beach next to Heceta Head Lighthouse and Devil's Bend on the south.

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