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Vibrant Views Abound from Top of Cape Perpetua, Near Yachats, Oregon

Published 12/10/2012

Vibrant Views Abound from Top of Cape Perpetua, Near Yachats, Oregon

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(Yachats, Oregon) - Soaring upwards at a height of nearly 700 feet, Cape Perpetua is one of the highest points along the Oregon coast that's accessible to the general tourist public. In fact, it's the highest spot that you can drive to, with the top of Manzanita's 1600-foot Neahkahnie Mountain requiring a trail to reach its top. It sits a few miles south of Yachats, requiring a rather white-knuckled drive full of tight turns and twists in the road to get up there.

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Once there, you get a bird's eye view to plenty of fascinating things. Starting with the famed stone shelter that was built there in the 30's as part of Roosevelt's plans to reboot the U.S economy after the Great Depression. It was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, who also constructed the series of trails around Perpetua, the public campground that's still used today and then the West Shelter that you come across near the top of the mountain.

First, however, you need to get here. From the main parking lot, covered in a heavy canopy of trees that seriously creak and shudder when the wind kicks in, you wander down a pleasant wooded path to the sound of the ocean hundreds of feet below. It's all a bit rustic, even medieval. It wouldn't be surprising to be surprised by a gnome or some other mythical woodsy creature.

Initially you come upon a a series of lookout points, all stunning and jaw-dropping in various ways. You can even see the other side of Heceta Head from here – about 15 miles away – the side that doesn't have the lighthouse. That structure is not far from Florence.

Various trails snake around this headland, once a former volcano in its own right.

Other bits of history about the area are quite notable as well. Back in 1778, this continent was known as New Albion by the British explorer Captain James Cook. He writes about spotting this peak on March 11, though he apparently spotted it on March 7 – the same day he spotted and named Cape Foulweather by Depoe Bay.

Of the area he wrote:

"Each extreme of the land seemed to shoot out into a point; the one to the north we saw on the 7th it was called Cape Perpetua, on account of its first being seen on that day. The one to the south I called Cape Foul Weather from the very bad weather we soon after met with. I judge it to lie in the latitude of 44° 55' North, longitude 235° 54' East".

Now, things are a lot less primitive than they were then, although in some spots, thankfully, not much. Among the bits of civilized comfort is the Cape Perpetua Visitors Center, which you can look down on from the overlooks on top of Perpetua.

Just below Cape Perpetua is the ever-fascinating Devil's Churn, and nearby is the awe-inspiring Cook's Chasm – named after the explorer – where you can see incredible oceanic geyser action from perhaps the most impressive spouting horn on the entire Oregon coast.

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