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Oregon Coast Spot That Hisses, Explodes, Drops Away and Launches in the Air - Video

Published 01/23/23 at 4:30 AM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Oregon Coast Spot That Hisses, Explodes, Drops Away and Launches in the Air - Video

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(Yachats, Oregon) – Combine the ocean with enough compression force and quirky little nooks 'n crannies and you have a recipe for something unique. Like this place down on the central Oregon coast, where the ever-present gaze of Cape Perpetua looms practically overhead, disorder reigns supreme. Beneath you is a wild display of watery chaos and a thing you didn't know was a thing: watery pyrotechnics. That's right. Water can act like fireworks. At Cook's Chasm, just about at the county line of Lincoln County and Lane County, there's plenty of atmosphere and action to back it up. (Thor's Well at Cook's Chasm, photo Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

After all, this is where one of the Oregon coast's wackiest spouting horns resides, along with explosive wave action and a little thing called Thor's Well.

Even so, this is – to borrow a phrase from King Crimson - “this is a daaaangerous place.” It's legendary but it's a hazard, and you need to treat it with enormous respect. More than one person has died here, and besides the hearty wave theatrics, there's drama of the stupid human kind as well.

This section of Oregon coast is some 20 miles of winding curves and expansive vistas that pop out with every opening in the trees. If you're heading south, you'll just have come through the particularly white-knuckled ride of Cape Perpetua and the Devil's Churn. You now enter a chunk of this shoreline that's often fairly unpopulated.

First, there's the bridge: a comely and yet intriguingly castle-like structure with two viewing areas that look a bit like the turrets. Here, the pathway leads you to the marine gardens area – including a wheelchair-accessible section – and a chunk of rocky ledges that are some 36 million years old, filled with little crags and shapes that sometimes create tiny spouting horn action all their own. Algae and other green, marine goo covers much of the area, and at lower tides the tidepools really become resplendent and obvious.

You enter via a long, paved path that involves a little switch-backing, bringing you to a viewing platform that’s directly above the Cook’s Chasm and its Spouting Horn, and a ways away from the marauding, monstrous waves of the basalt edges where Thor’s Well resides. This is where the beautiful chaos happens.

To the north, more basalt ledges stretch out into the sea, and this section often takes the biggest brunt of wave batterings. They seem to explode and then leap out of nowhere: it’s frighteningly beautiful.

Just north of Cook's Chasm

Look straight out west and you see Thor’s Well bubbling and gurgling its sea water contents, and most of the time it too gets slapped by some large breakers. Thor's Well is a major attraction, certainly photographically – and maybe that's so because it can work a bit better compositionally than the horn. Frankly, the spouting horn is a lot more interesting and the well is, well, pretty lame by comparison.

It also attracts the “wrong crowd.” Legions of the curious come here, often ignoring the warnings or even just seaside common sense. Oregon Coast Beach Connection discovered a whole range of Yachats locals who have tried to warn people at the Well, but were often ignored, even scoffed at or argued with. Some tourists flipped off locals trying to save them. Then you see plentiful videos of visitors carrying babies getting too close to the thing and they get swamped and smacked by large waves.

Two people died in this spot since 2011, and frankly it's amazing more haven't. You might want to check Why Do So Many Ignore Oregon Coast Wave Warnings? Answer is Uneasy Reality.

By far and away the most impressive feature is the spouting horn, where, if conditions are right, it fires off ocean water into the air like a geyser, often making a startling hissing noise. If you’re lucky, at sunset the light hits the column of water just right and it is painted in bright, striking colors. Few things are more engaging than seeing the spouting horn lit up like a surreal Christmas tree or a giant glowstick. You can see more of that above, including video.

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Coastal Spotlight

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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