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Oregon Coast Places That Don't Always Exist - Part I

Published 04/02/2020 at 4:44 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Oregon Coast Places That Don't Always Exist - Part I

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(Oregon Coast) – The rage of stormy, high tides and the soothing calm of low tides is no secret on this coastline. Oregon’s beaches are some of the most dynamic in the world because of this, and the range between sea levels around here is both well known and full of surprises.

The tides and the seasons do more than just change the look of a place. They cause some areas or aspects of the Oregon coast to not exist and then almost rather suddenly be there, as if they pop into being. This is part one of an exploration of such fascinating beaches. (See Oregon Coast Places That Don't Always Exist - Part II)

Cape Cove. One of the more intriguing spots on all of the Oregon coast is a little stretch of beach known as Cape Cove Beach, which sits on the southern face of Cape Perpetua near Yachats. However, if you head to the bottom part of Perpetua during a particularly high tide or during most days in winter, all you’ll see is ocean between you and the cliffs to the south. Traipse around here during calmer seasons and lower tides and you’ll spot a comely beach with a bunch of nooks and crannies, as well as a huge mass of driftwood closer to the highway.

Now you see, now you don’t. That’s Cape Cove, which is almost like the Oregon coast’s version of Canada’s Bay of Fundy (where tides differ so much that hundreds of feet of the bay come and go). Sometimes there’s about 100 feet or more of calm, lovely beach – and sometimes it’s just a bunch of cliffs getting whacked at by the sea and the whole thing is under water.

There’s a trailhead above it at a gravel pullout just south of the Cape Perpetua / Devil’s Churn parking lot, with a primitive trail that leads you down there. It comes out in a pocket-like area that stretches about 100 feet back into the cliffs to a wall below the highway. This spot is completely smothered in gargantuan logs, which displays how gnarly the ocean gets here. Hotels in Yachats - Where to eat - Lane County Maps and Virtual Tours

Inside of Devil’s Punchbowl. There are two sides of this coin, and it all depends on how you think of it. Sometimes the Devil’s Punchbowl doesn’t exist as the swirling cauldron of madness it’s named for – in fact, that’s fairly often. On very rare occasions, it’s not even vaguely like the Punchbowl we know and you can actually get inside it for a brief hour or two.

The famed landmark just south of Depoe Bay is a bit of a misnomer: it’s not always wild and frenzied down there. It usually takes rather rough conditions to make it a true devilish punchbowl and to really get going. About 90 percent of the time there is ocean water rummaging around inside, but only about a third of the time is it really doing anything unruly. Still, it’s absolutely remarkable to look at, knowing it’s a collapsed sea cave. All that rubble down at the bottom is what’s left of its top.

Normally, you can’t even get near the Punchbowl. Heading down to that tiny slip of beach from the parking lot to the north, you’ll find the ocean right there and often raging all around the ancient sandstone structure.

There are some instances where it’s briefly accessible – but it’s technically not allowed that you go in there and very much not recommended. Usually it happens during particularly high sand levels that summer brings, which forms sand bars out at the tideline and thus keeps the sea much farther out. It imitates an extremely low tide event, but it’s actually so much sand it basically expands the beach.

This combined with really low tides sometimes unblocks the way into the structure. State Parks is adamant you don’t try this even if it looks clear, however. You simply never know when the tide may start coming in or a big surge could come in through cave holes to the west.

In any case, this is a wild and surreal sight to even look down at the Punchbowl with absolutely no ocean in it, or to explore some of the tidepools closer to the entrance. There’s even another weird cave at this section just outside the big structure. Hotels in Depoe Bay - Where to eat - Depoe Bay Maps and Virtual Tours ---- (See Oregon Coast Places That Don't Always Exist - Part II)

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