Day 11 – Devil’s Churn, Thor’s Well, Lighthouses & Elks

Another day full of beautiful places to go.  Water in action, more lighthouses, and Elks.  Join us today too see what we saw almost south of Oregon.

Today’s first stop is the Devils Churn, it is a narrow inlet of the Pacific Ocean in Lincoln County, Oregon, United States, south of Yachts. It is located in the Siuslaw National Forest and is accessible via the Restless Waters trail from the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area visitor’s center or the U.S. Route 101 overlook. Access to the trail requires a United States Forest Service pass.

The inlet developed over many thousands of years as wave action carved into the basalt shoreline, first forming a deep sea cave whose roof eventually collapsed. As the tide comes in it can throw spray several hundred feet into the air when the waves reach the end of the churn. Visitors are urged to be cautious when visiting the churn as it can be dangerous.

Driving few miles south, we reach Cape Perpetua Visitors’ Center.  From there we took a little hike down the beach, where you can enjoy the tide pools during low tide and watch water splash during high tide.

Thor’s Well is also known simply as Spouting Horn and is located in the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area near Yachats. It can be viewed by taking the Captain Cook Trailhead from the Visitor Center. When surf is up, water shoots upward from the bowl carved out of the basalt shoreline, then drains back into the opening. Many photographers trying to capture the action report how dangerous it is to try to get close to the spouting horn when it’s active, so if you visit, be careful and keep your distance.



Thor’s Well



Formations like these are typically formed over long periods of time geologically. They begin as a sea cave and eventually the top of the cave collapses, leaving an opening where the tide surges in, then shoots upward with dramatic force. Similar dramatic formations can be seen nearby at Devil’s Churn and at Devil’s Punch bowl in Otter Rock to the north
Not so far from Thor’s well, 11 miles south is the Heceta Head Lighthouse. This iconic lighthouse sits on the west side of 1,000 feet high Heceta Head, where offshore rocks and headlands provide abundant seabirds nesting sites. It has a 56 feet tower that sits 205 feet above the ocean. It was first illuminated on 1894, today its automated beacon, which can be seen 21 miles from land, is rates as the strongest light on the Oregon Coast. The historic assistant light keeper’s house – Heceta House, built in 1893 and now maintained by the US Forest Service – offers bed and breakfast accommodations and rental facilities for group events.
Heceta Head Lighthouse


Assistant Light keeper’s House 


Heceta Head Lighthouse


About 45,  miles down south from Heceta Lighthouse towards Reedsport, Oregon and US101, we traveled about 3 miles east on Highway 38 until we reach Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area.

The Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area is the year-round residence for a herd of about 100 Roosevelt elk. A mild winter climate and abundant food allow the Roosevelt elk to remain at the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area all year. Morning and evening are the best viewing times, but elk may be out at any time of day.

Start at the interpretive facility. A series of panels tells about elk and the environment of the Dean Creek area. Use the spotting scope at the facility or your own binoculars or spotting scope to scan the area. You may spot elk anywhere throughout the meadows. They may be lying down, so do not neglect to carefully peruse the tall grass. The viewing area stretches almost 3 miles along the south side of the road, so be sure and drive its length. There are turnouts along the way where you can stop to watch.


Just 3 miles south of Reedsport above the entrance to Winchester Bay and adjacent to Umpqua Lighthouse State Park, it is the second lighthouse to occupy this site. An earlier structure commissioned on the north spit of the river in 1857 was the first lighthouse sited on the Oregon Coast; it fell into the river 1861 after the sand under the foundation eroded. The currect structure has a 65 feet tower that overlooks sand dunes from 165 feet elevation on the south side of the bay. The Umpqua River lighthouse is nearly identical to the one at Heceta Head, and both lights were illuminated in 1894, but the Umpqua lens emits distinctive red and white automated flashes.


Umpqua River Lighthouse


Before we end our day in Bandon, Oregon, we headed to Coquille River Lighthouse, located in Bullards Beach State Park 2 miles north of Bandon on the north bank of the Coquilles River, the Coquille River lighthouse was commissioned in 1896 to guide mariners across a dangerous bar. It was decommissioned in 1939 following improvements to the river channel and navigational aids and restored as an interpretive center in 1979. The light shines from atop 40 feet octagonal tower. New historic restoration efforts began in 2007 and are ongoing.


Coquille River Lighthouse

We spent the night in Bandon, Oregon.


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