we’ve been highlighting favorite “hidden gems” shared by our very own employees, ranging from family-friendly parks in the Spokane area to little coves in the Puget Sound perfect for stand-up-paddle boarding and kayaking.
It’s been fascinating to see the places our employees love to visit around the PNW, so we’ve decided to
Lincoln City, Ore.
Have you ever imagined the ocean as a bottomless infinity pool, endlessly flowing into the center of the earth? It sounds far-fetched and other-worldly, but it’s exactly what you’ll find if you visit one of our #NWSecrets: Thor’s Well in Yachats, Oregon.
We’ve got to give a little disclaimer here: No, the Pacific Ocean doesn’t actually flow into a bottomless sinkhole in the middle of the Oregon Coast. But it sure looks like it! Sitting on the edge of the Oregon Coastline near Cape Perpetua is a hole that appears to swallow the swiftly moving saltwater that flows around it.
Thor’s Well is also nicknamed “the drainpipe of the Pacific” and we know the phenomenon is just a large hole in a rock—it isn’t truly draining water from the ocean. Most scientists and researchers believe that it started as a sea cave that was carved out by waves, until the roof of it eventually caved in and created openings at both the top and the bottom of the large chunk of basalt rock. We hate to disappoint you, but it’s estimated to only be around 20-feet deep.
In order to get the most out of this breathtaking site, it’s important to go about an hour before high tide (tide charts for the area can be found here and here). It’s especially impressive during storms or windier, wetter times of year, when the water is washing violently over the rocks and funneling even more quickly into the hole. Fall is a great time of year to check it out.
While it’s cool to look at; it’s also very dangerous. The water can move quickly and the water has been known to crash hard enough for an onlooker to lose their balance. It’s crucial for all visitors to view the “well” from a safe distance and be wary of large sprays. And… we don’t even want to begin to think about how much photography equipment has been lost in the hole forever…
What do I need to know before I go?
The site is located just south of the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center in Cook’s Chasm, Ore., near Lincoln City. To visit, we recommend parking at the Cook’s Chasm Pullout off the 101. You can safely view Thor’s Well from your car, as there are several viewpoints, or you can take the steps to walk down for a closer look. There are also several trails around Cape Perpetua connecting to viewpoints. Most trails and trailheads are clearly marked with directional signs that say “Thor’s Well.”
We recommend taking the steps or one of the trails down to the closer viewpoints, because the brilliant basalt shoreline is worth getting a closer look at! If you decide to tackle this West Coast bucket list item with your family, here are a few pointers to keep in mind:
The trail down is paved, but at the bottom there is a portion where you’ll need to walk over sand and some basalt rocks that can be slippery when wet. Wear appropriate shoes.
Never put yourself between the well and the ocean
Never turn your back on the ocean—sneaker waves can do exactly that. Sneak up on you!
Try to go an hour before high tide and watch the well fill up. The site will be more spectacular with a tide that is five feet or higher.
Don’t try to look into the well or get too close to it.
What else is there to do in the area?
Cape Perpetua is a beautiful part of the Oregon Coast. There is a ton to see for people of all ages, from tide pools to sea caves, from hiking trails to beaches.
Spouting Horn is a similar natural wonder to Thor’s Well, and parking for both features is shared (two birds, one stone!). It is an ocean geyser that’s created as the waves funnel into a cave. The waves come out of the top and create a “spouting horn.” If you want to see both Thor’s Well and Spouting Horn at the same time, you can hike the Captain Cook’s Trail, which will take you by both water features. It’s a doable hike for all ages and abilities and is just under a mile long.