Camping and exploring the Cape Perpetua area on the Oregon Coast. Beautiful Thor's Well, Devil's Churn, Spouting Horn, and more!

Best Camping on the Oregon Coast: Cape Perpetua

Last month, we took a quick camping trip to the Oregon Coast, thinking it would be one of our last opportunities of the season. Of course, we picked a weekend when it decided to storm, and OF COURSE, we’ve had gorgeous weather for weeks since then. Just our luck. But it was still such a fun trip, and so nice to get away. Because it was rainy that weekend, there were no crowds (on the beach at least), and while we didn’t have sunny beach weather, the fog rolling in and the grey skies were still so beautiful.

Oregon Coast Cape Perpetua

I wanted to camp on a section of coast that we’d never explored, and picked Cape Perpetua. It’s an area that feels somewhat removed, but is still easily accessible, with lots of hiking trails, and some amazing natural features. The campground was deserted when we arrived so we set up camp next to a bubbling stream.


We headed into Yachats that first night for dinner at Luna Sea Fish House. The just-caught fish and chips and fried scallops and chips were incredible. Then we headed back to camp and hung out by the fire with a couple beers before heading to bed.

The next day we headed off for a full day of hiking and exploring the cape.

Oregon Coast Camping - Cape Perpetua - Devil's Churn

 Our first stop was Devil’s Churn. During high tide, the water rushes through this narrow passage into a deep sea cave at the end. While it’s important to be extra careful and watch out for big waves, you can easily walk down to the end and stand above the cave (where I was standing for this photo.) As the water pounds beneath your feet you can feel the vibrations and hear a roar coming from below. It’s easy to imagine why someone decided it ought to be called Devil’s Churn!

Oregon Coast Camping - Cape Perpetua - Bridge

Next we headed a quarter mile up the road to see Thor’s Well and the Spouting Horn. During high tide these two put on quite the show, and while we weren’t there at quite the right time, it was still so fascinating to watch.

Oregon Coast Camping - Cape Perpetua - Thor's Well

Oregon Coast Camping - Cape Perpetua - Thor's Well

Oregon Coast Camping - Cape Perpetua - Thor's Well

Oregon Coast Camping - Cape Perpetua - Thor's Well

Of course, I had first discovered Thor’s Well from photos like this, and besides being way beyond my photographic capabilities, the weather didn’t cooperate and give us any kind of sunrise/sunset. I think it still looks cool in all gray though!

Right across from Thor’s Well is Spouting Horn. This is a hole in the rock that, when conditions are right, sends a blast of water up into the air like a geyser. It’s best observed at high tide and during stormy weather.

Oregon Coast Camping - Cape Perpetua - Spouting Well

The tides and wind weren’t quite ideal, but we did get a sense of what it looks like.

Oregon Coast Camping - Cape Perpetua

Next we decided to hike up to the top of the cape. On a clear day, the view is supposed to be spectacular. We knew we’d see mostly fog, but we decided to go for it anyway.

Oregon Coast Camping - Cape Perpetua

Oregon Coast Camping - Cape Perpetua

Oregon Coast Camping - Cape Perpetua

The rock shelter at the top is very cool. It was built during the Depression and used as a lookout during World War II. We hid out under it when the rain started falling briefly, then took our opportunity to hurry down before it got heavier! The weather got a little better, so we headed down the Spruce Trail to see the Giant Spruce.

Oregon Coast Camping - Cape Perpetua

Oregon Coast Camping - Cape Perpetua - Giant Spruce

Oregon Coast Camping - Cape Perpetua - Giant Spruce

We had so much fun hiking around this area! We headed back to camp for dinner cooked over the campfire and s’mores (of course!) But after a few hours, the rain got heavier, and we weren’t sure we wanted to chance it in our tent (labeled water-resistant, not water-proof. Not sure what we were thinking there!)

We decided to head back into town and find a hotel, only to find that every hotel in the next three towns were full! Considering there was no one on the beach, I’m not sure where all those people came from, but we ended up having to drive nearly an hour up north to Newport before we found the only place with a vacancy, a marginally sleazy cheap motel.

Shady motel or not, it was so nice to dry off, take a hot shower and fall asleep to the pounding rain on the roof, feeling glad we weren’t out in it! Hopefully our next camping trip we actually end up camping more than one night, but it was still such a fun adventure together. Cape Perpetua is one of my new favorite places in Oregon, and I can’t wait to go back!


  1. Aaron Reinicke June 24, 2015 at 7:36 pm

    What is the name of the closest campsite? Is the campsite just right there on the beach? I will be on my bike, bikepacking on a multi day trip so I don’t want to go very far away from 101.

    1. Ashley MacQuarrie June 24, 2015 at 10:32 pm

      Hi Aaron, we stayed at the Cape Perpetua campground:

      It’s not directly on the beach but is instead in a quiet forested area along a creek across 101 from the beach. You only have to cross 101 and walk/bike maybe .5 mi from the tent sites to areas of interest like Devil’s Churn, Thor’s Well, and the Visitors’ Center.

      Thanks for reading and have a great trip! It’s a beautiful area!

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