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Intriguing U.S. Coastal Travel Destination with Ocean Geysers, Mysterious Steps: Yachats, Oregon

Published 05/28/23 at 6:32 a.m.
B
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Intriguing U.S. Coastal Travel Destination with Ocean Geysers, Mysterious Steps: Yachats, Oregon

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(Yachats, Oregon) - There is a destination on the western coast of the U.S. where things like to explode, gurgle, sometimes implode, and otherwise exude a certain oddball kind of ancient mystery. Known for its oceanic drama, Yachats, Oregon, and the area surrounding it are a unique section of Oregon coast, where waves not only batter and smack with sizable intensity but they do so almost regardless of Pacific Ocean conditions. It can be pretty mellow in the surf zone and still be a handful on these rocks – and definitely dangerous. (Above: Strawberry Hill, all photos Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

Most of all, however, it stands apart because of its rocky landscape, one where ancient lava flows over 30 million years old dictate what you see now, making for some of the histrionics here but also some head-scratching wonders. Not many chunks of the Oregon coast where you can easily walk are made of this stuff, and it's the only part made of this particular set of lava flows.

It's one of only two areas where you'll make surreal finds like mysterious steps embedded in the rocks, like little stairways to nowhere.

The intrigue spreads southward from here about 15 miles. From Yachats to just a few miles short of Florence is a fair list of intriguing little beaches, often a mix of this basalt rock and sandy beach. (Much of the details are at the Upper Lane County Virtual Tour)

Among them are Strawberry Hill, which is definitely off the beaten path of Highway 101, or at least visually. It's tucked behind brush, but find it and you'll discover the most striking of these “mystery steps.” Tread down this comely path that splits off into three directions, and you'll soon find what looks like a set of wonky steps embedded in the black basalt.


Strawberry Hill

They're called cordwood joints by geologists, by the way, and they're an interesting Oregon coast origin story all their own.


Another set lies just north of here at the Neptune Beach northern access, where you'll find an intriguing little arch half buried in the sand and again an interesting mix of beach and labyrinth-like rock.

Less than a mile north of this sits Cook's Chasm, the first of the mighty chasms along this stretch from Yachats to Florence is found. One of the outstanding features here is the large crevice going under the castle-like bridge, where there's a spouting horn (these are a spectacular theme on the Oregon coastline but rare). Under some conditions it fires water into the air with a great hissing noise – like some sort of freakish monster of myth.

Next to it is the famed (but overrated) Thors Well. It's just a hole in rock where the tide often seems to get sucked down into, but it's more interesting when it kind of gurgles sea water upwards. People seem enraptured by it but it's nowhere as interesting as the hissing geyser.

It's also extremely dangerous, drawing visitors to get too close. Those tides aren't like the beaches in your state or country: these are unruly and merciless.


Keep going north up Highway 101 and within a mile you'll encounter the Devil's Churn, a massive crack in the basalt that yields phenomenal tidal action, sometimes hurling immense logs onto the surface. Stay far back from this one too.

A few miles later and you're into Yachats. Now, there's a good two miles worth of that jagged, black basalt stuff, broken by the captivating bay. You've already seen one of four spouting horns on the Oregon coast, and now you're about to see the second at Ocean Road.


The third lies up Yachats' 804 Trail, close to the Smelt Sands access. The fourth is the most impressive, but it's tens of miles up the road at Depoe Bay.

Still, up and down this untamed chunk of basalt, you really don't need a spouting horn to get your crazed waves on. The Pacific is often a mad man here. Also, there's a myriad of curious little holes here that are delightful details all their own, sometimes providing little glimpses of what the tides are up to beneath you.

The Yachats area is really quite exceptional as an uncrowded U.S. destination spot as well as for all its oddball delights.

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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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