Post Summary: Things To Do In Cape Perpetua On The Oregon Coast
Looking for an epic stop on your Oregon Coast road trip? You’ve clicked on the right place, my friend.
Cape Perpetua has everything the Oregon Coast is famous for. Craggy cliffs, exceptional water features, tide pools full of life – the list goes on!
This place is what Pacific Northwest dreams are made of, and we’re excited to dive right into the best things to do in Cape Perpetua in this post.
We’re sharing the best places for photos, day trip advice, and nearby activities to fill your itinerary with tons of adventure.
Let’s get exploring!
10 Things To Do In Cape Perpetua On The Oregon Coast
Where is Cape Perpetua?
Cape Perpetua Visitor Center Coordinates: 44.2809387, -124.1108929
Cape Perpetua Scenic Area is a protected spot on the Oregon Coast located in the Siuslaw National Forest.
The area covers 2,700 acres of coastal land, which is home to an abundance of Pacific Northwest marine life.
This is a unique area of the Oregon Coast for its rainforest-like environment that collides right with the ocean.
It’s a popular stop to take on any Oregon Coast road trip to stretch your legs and take one of their many short trails. Many trails are just less than a mile to stunning features like spouts, coves, and tide pools.
Here are the distances from other popular locations nearby:
- Portland to Cape Perpetua: 2 hours 50 minutes. 157 miles.
- Cannon Beach to Cape Perpetua: 3 hours. 135 miles.
- Eugene, OR to Cape Perpetua: 1 hour and 50 minutes. 84 miles.
- Florence, OR to Cape Perpetua: 30 minutes. 23 miles.
- Coos Bay, OR to Cape Perpetua: 1 hour 30 minutes. 72 miles.
Where Should I Begin?
An easy place to begin exploring things to do in Cape Perpetua is at the Visitors Center. Here, you can talk to a park ranger about anything you’d like to know.
They have the latest updates on wildlife sightings, trail conditions, and even special events happening in the park. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions!
This is also a really great place to park for the day while you explore Cape Perpetua. There is a very large parking lot and access to tons of trails in the same location.
Make sure to purchase a day pass for $5 (kiosks available) or $30 for an annual pass to Oregon State Parks!
See The Cape Perpetua Lookout
The Cape Perpetua Lookout is famous for the view of the curved road that runs along the Oregon Coast.
This place is the highest accessible viewpoint by car on the Oregon Coast. It sits 800 feet above sea level, which means you get an expansive view of the headlands below!
To reach the lookout from the Visitors Center, follow the road NFD 55 inland for 5 minutes. The road winds back and forth and eventually turns into Cape Perpetua Lookout Road.
You know you’ve reached the end when you enter the small parking lot at the top.
Watch Thor’s Well
Thor’s Well is believed to be an old sea cave that had its roof collapse. Therefore, it gives the appearance of an endless sinkhole, sucking up the endless flow of water that churns around it.
When the waves get large enough, you can witness it shooting water from the spout. It’s most spectacular an hour before high tide!
Despite the ease of accessibility to the base (there aren’t any guard rails in place), Thor’s Well is extremely dangerous.
During high tide, you run the risk of getting swept into the swell of water and straight into the hole if you get too close (aka death), so we low-key beg you to stay back.
Thor’s Well is probably one of the most popular things to do in Yachats, Oregon for its incredibly photogenic natural wonder. But again, please keep your distance.
Spouting Horn at Cook’s Chasm
Spouting Horn is a unique feature on the Oregon Coast. During stormy waters and high tide, ocean seawater gets funneled into a hole in the cove, building pressure until it explodes like a whale spouting water.
There’s an easy trail down to the rocky tide pools and unique features like Thor’s Well.
Like always, use extreme caution when exploring, and know the tide charts and times before you begin your journey.
Other Awesome Oregon Coast Sights: Amazing Rock Formations and Beaches Near Coos Bay, Oregon
Captain Cook Point
Captain Cook Point is the farthest point west on this section of the Oregon Coast.
The most accessible area to explore is Cook’s Chasm, and you can reach this trail with a very easy 0.8-mile trail from the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center. You can also opt to park on the side of the road – there’s a small lot.
Take the stairs and wander down to famous features like Thor’s Well and Spouting Horn, but also to interesting tide pools and remnants from the 1930s Civilian Conservation Corps camp.
Safety Notice: Be very cautious when visiting during high tide. Sneaker waves are common in this area, which can pull people into the ocean if you’re not paying attention.
Never turn your back to the ocean, and arm yourselves with a tide chart when visiting. (You can ask about the tides at the Cape Perpetua Visitors Center).
Cape Cove is a small inlet of Cape Creek that meets the Pacific Ocean.
Here, large pieces of driftwood collect in the cove and it is incredibly fun to photograph and explore during low tide.
Trip Tip: Make sure to secure things like cameras, sunglasses, and other loose items before exploring. Dropping items in between logs can be very difficult to recover!
Explore Tide Pools
Tide pools around Cape Perpetua are teeming with marine life, cool creatures, and interesting finds.
Here at Cape Perpetua, there are several interpretive signs sharing the types of wildlife on this part of the Oregon coast, and tips on how to explore them responsibly.
Tide Pool Etiquette Tips
- Wear water-safe footwear to protect your feet. Make sure you are aware of your footing. The tide pool surfaces are slippery.
- To prevent killing any marine life that clings to the surface, make sure to step on bare rock spaces.
- Leave wildlife alone and don’t take anything from tide pools or the beach…
- WITH THE EXCEPTION OF TRASH. Bring an extra plastic bag and collect any garbage you encounter.
- Never turn your back to the ocean and be aware of sneaker waves.
- Never force an animal off of its spot. If it doesn’t want to release its grip, leave it be.
- If you care to peek under a rock, put it back exactly how you found it to preserve organisms living on the shady underside.
Love Tide Pools? Explore Rialto Beach Tide Pools In The Olympic National Park
The Devil’s Churn is a small inlet that you can get RIGHT next to! During high tide, waves rip through this area splashing and violently churning the water (hence the scary name).
There are a few paths leading to Devil’s Churn, one being just a few steps away from a pull-off parking lot. There is also a small set of stairs and a ramp leading to the edge of the cove for a better look – just be careful!
Oregon Coast Trip Tip: This is an essential place to know when there will be high and low tides. It’s extremely dangerous to explore during high tide, but the low tide can be a fun time to get close. Know before you go!
Take The Many Cape Perpetua Hiking Trails
Cape Perpetua Scenic Area boasts 26 miles of trails within the area. Here are some of our favorite Cape Perpetua hikes:
Big Spruce Trail (2-miles round trip): Starting from the Visitors Center, take the trail through giant Sitka Spruce trees as old as 500 years. This trail brings you through green, lush old-growth and rainforest vibes.
Cape Cove Trail (0.3-miles): Starting from the Visitors Center, take the short paved trail to the beach for access to tons of coastal viewpoints and tide pools.
Trail Of The Restless Waters (0.4-miles): This paved trail brings you to Devil’s Churn, a cove with violent and dramatic crashing waves during high tide.
Click here for a printable PDF of the many hiking trails in the Cape Perpetua area and a short description of each.
More Hikes In The Pacific Northwest: 20 Jaw-Dropping Hikes in The PNW
Go Inland From Cape Perpetua
In 1933, President Roosevelt founded the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) which was a place for young boys to learn a variety of skills.
Because of this, many of the trails and buildings you see today are a product of their hard work and efforts.
For more information on inland adventures, make sure to contact the Cape Perpetua Visitors Center for seasonal events and up-to-date information.
Cape Perpetua Visitors Center Phone Number: 541-547-3289
Go Camping at Cape Perpetua
What better way to explore Cape Perpetua than to go camping and spend a few days exploring the area?
There are many different places to go camping in Cape Perpetua. The easiest and most convenient one would be the Cape Perpetua Campground, which is available for reservation on a 6-month rolling basis.
Want to go camping for free? Read our guide to help you research and find your own free (and legal!) spots to camp on the Oregon Coast.
Map of Cape Perpetua Activities
Wondering where all these Cape Perpetua features are in relation to one another?
Click below on our embedded Google Map to explore this area and start planning your next trip to the Oregon Coast!
Things To Pack For A Cape Perpetua Day Trip
Packing and planning for Cape Perpetua greatly depend on the time of year, and the immediate forecast. We’ve visited the Oregon Coast in the pouring rain, and other times we came home with sunburns!
Before your trip, make sure to check the weather. Here are some suggested items to pack for your adventure:
Yes, it might be summertime during your Cape Perpetua trip, but the Pacific Northwest rain knows no seasons.
It’s always a good idea to pack a rain jacket, even if it simply stays in your car.
If you plan to explore around the cool water features at Cape Perpetua, you’ll want some water safe shoes.
In the summertime, this can take the form of secure sandals like Tevas that won’t come loose from your feet but also let you dip your toes in the water!
Other Things To Do Near Cape Perpetua
Cape Perpetua Scenic Area is just one of many fun and interesting things you can do in this section of the Oregon Coast!
Below are more nearby adventures and cool places to check out:
- Strawberry Hill
- The Hobbit Trail
- The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area
- Oregon Covered Bridges
- Florence, Oregon
- Heceta Head Lighthouse
Have You Explored Cape Perpetua Scenic Area? What Was Your Experience Like? Tell Us In The Comments Below!
More Oregon Adventures
Want to find the best places in the PNW?
Stop searching through internet noise and download our curated list just for you.
Enter your email below and we'll send you your PNW Bucket List!