Cape Perpetua

Cape Perpetua has been on my list for a long time (I know I say that about almost every hike…), ever since my boyfriend told me about it when we first met ~3 years ago. We’ve been wanting to go for a long time, but it’s so darn far from Portland: 3.5 hours!

Today I finally got the chance, as I was in Corvallis, OR for the weekend and only had to drive 1.5 hours to Cape Perpetua. I parked at the Cape Perpetua Visitor’s Center and took the Cape Cove Trail under the highway, then took a left turn towards Thor’s Well and Spouting Horn. After checking out those views, I went back to the original intersection and took the right turn, leading towards Devil’s Churn. After seeing Devil’s Churn, I went back the way I came and back to the Visitor’s Center. My entire route was about 2.5 miles and 450 feet in elevation gain.

Thor’s Well is a big hole in the tidepools, most likely started as a sea cave, that appears to drain the ocean. With each wave, water crashes into the walls and sprays the surrounding area. I don’t think I went at the right time, but try to time your visit an hour before high tide so you can see the well fill up and then produce explosive waves.

Right after Thor’s Well is Spouting Horn, an “ocean geyser.” With each wave, water is forced through a hole in the shore and produces what looks like a geyser. This was my favorite attraction of the trip. If you go back past Thor’s Well and follow the trail to Devil’s Churn, you’ll pass beautiful ocean views and coastal forests.

Devil’s Churn

After Devil’s Churn, I headed back to the Visitor’s Center where I parked and realized that I was only a 20 minute drive from the Florence Sea Lion Caves. Again, this is something I’ve wanted to see since I was a little kid.

Sea Lion Caves

The Sea Lion Caves in Florence, Oregon have been privately owned since 1932 and costs $14 admission for adults. It is the largest sea cave in America and has wild Stellar Sea Lions and California Sea Lions that come and go as they please. I am glad that I went, but overall the attraction is probably much better for young children and very overpriced. You’ll take an elevator down to the caves, and there’s pretty much one window that you can look through to see the cave. Including reading every sign and watching a 6-minute documentary, I was in-and-out in about 15 minutes. I just hope the price of admission goes towards sea lion conservation, in which case it is justified.

Quick Facts

  • Views of Thor’s Well, Spouting Horn, and Devil’s Churn
  • Park and start trail at Cape Perpetua Visitor’s Center (NOT day use area and NOT the Cape Perpetua Trailhead that Google maps will take you to)
  • Recreation pass needed
  • ~2.5 miles and 450 feet elevation gain
  • Out-and-back type
  • Access to beaches and tidepools

Pros

  • Accessible for people of varying fitness levels (and dogs)
  • Beautiful views of the ocean
  • Several other trails and campgrounds nearby
  • Close to Florence Sea Lion Caves

Cons

  • Trail is paved and alongside the highway, so it is not as remote and natural as I would like
  • Sea Lion Caves is overpriced and better suited for young children
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Crater Lake

When I told people I had never been to Crater Lake, I’d often get the answer, “Really?? But you’re from here, right?”  Yes, I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest and for 21 years, had never seen Crater Lake.  I decided that I would change that this month, so I got a day off work, booked a hotel, and went to Crater Lake with my family!

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Wizard Island is actually another volcano that formed after the eruption of Mt. Mazama, which created Crater Lake.

We entered the park through the North Entrance and then drove the entire Rim Drive.  The entire Rim is only open until late October, so I think we made it just in time.  However, the Lodge closed 6 days ago, so we did just miss that.  Some highlights of the Rim Drive were the Pinnacles, the Rim Village, the Phantom Ship, and the Pumice Castle.

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The Phantom Ship is an island that looks just like a ghost ship.

Right now, the Rim Village is the only place to get food at the Lake so it was a little busy.  There were good views and some exhibits about the Lake’s history inside the cafe.  There is also a gift shop and visitors’ center at the park headquarters that plays a 22-minute movie about the park.  The headquarters is also the trailhead for the Lady of the Woods hike, one of the few hikes in the park that allows dogs.

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The Pinnacles

One of my favorite stops was the Pinnacles.  They are stalagmite-like rock formations.  Thousands of years ago, lava and debris from a volcano eruption flowed through this area and steam from the bottom of the lava flow escaped up to the top, hardening the rocks that it flowed through.  Over time, the soft rock eroded and left the hardened steam vents, creating the Pinnacles.

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On another note, the Woodsman Country Lodge in Crescent, Oregon is a lovely place to stay.  There aren’t many hotels close to Crater Lake besides the lodge that is in the park and Crescent is only an hour away.  The Woodsman Country Lodge is super cute and woodsy, a great price, clean, dog-friendly and the staff is very nice and helpful.  It is right next to the Mohawk Restaurant, home to great comfort food and an amazing taxidermy collection.

On the drive back to Portland, we stopped at the High Desert Museum in Bend.  I love museums and this one did not disappoint.  Not only are there traditional museum exhibits about Native Americans, pioneers, and nature, there are live animals that represent the wildlife found in the High Desert.  I am often skeptical of zoos and worry about the animals, but all the animals in this museum were rescued and could not survive in the wild due to injuries.  I saw river otters, a bobcat, porcupines, owls, eagles, a tarantula, and a rattlesnake!!  Isn’t it amazing that all these animals live here in Oregon?!

Quick Facts

  • Woodsman Country Lodge in Crescent is a great place to stay, and right next to Mohawk Restaurant.
  • The Rim Drive is an awesome way to see the whole park and has several stops for views along the way.
  • Some must-see stops: The Pinnacles, Phantom Ship, and the Pumice Castle

Pros

  • Absolutely beautiful lake and high desert scenery
  • Most viewpoints have information about the science and history of the Lake
  • The Rim Drive is great for people who cannot hike
  • Lots of options for hiking if you do not have dogs

Cons

  • Very few hikes allow dogs
  • Few places to stay close to Crater Lake
  • When the Lodge is closed, food is only available at the Rim Village