Destinations

Visit Thors Well in Oregon USA

No, no, we’re sorry, ladies but this article on Thor’s Well has very little to do with hunky actor Chris (Thor) Hemsworth.  Nevertheless, if you are interested in unusual tourist stops then this article will still very much interest you.  Thor’s Well sometimes referred to as “Drainpipe to the Pacific” or the “Gate to Hell”, is located approximately three miles south of  Yachats, Oregon along the Cape Perpetua coastline.

Background

So what exactly is Thor’s Well?  We’re so glad you asked.  Thor’s Well is a bowl-shaped hole that was naturally and gradually carved out of the actual rough basalt on the shoreline of the state. According to different sources including the publisher of Coast Explorer magazine, Gary Hayes, Thor’s Well probably began as an actual sea cave that was slowly yet steadily dug out by the Pacific Ocean’s waves.  As time went on the sea cave’s roof eventually just collapsed.  That resulted in a pair of openings: one at the bottom and one at the top through which the seawater rushes and sprays outward. While its circular shape may make it unique, in truth it is not all that different from the neighboring tourist stops known as the Devil’s Churn or Cook’s Chasm.  Being situated against the Pacific Ocean, however, accounts for its unusual behavior.

Features

It is basically a saltwater fountain which is actually powered by the ocean tide.  The waves at high tide surge under the bowl and fill it from underneath until it actually bubbles and violently forcefully blasts skyward from out of the top.  Then the water goes back into the gaping sinkhole once again giving Thor’s Well the appearance of a well that endlessly fills and drains. While it has garnered an almost supernatural reputation, the Atlas Obscura reports that the sinkhole is probably only 20 feet deep in reality.  Still, while this might make it seem less dark, magical or mystical on paper, observing it in person it said to be amazing.  Just how amazing Thor’s Well appears to be at any given time depends on numerous factors including (but not limited to) the wind, the size, and direction of the swells and the actual height of the high tide.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to see something impressive is within an hour of high tide.  During storms, it is also very dramatic because the seawater violently washes over the rocks before falling back through the hole.  Of course, this favorite tourist spot can be the most deadly at this time as well. Both unprepared visitors and overzealous amateur photographers could (and--according to the local authorities--in a few case have) end up being swept up into the natural maelstrom.  Winter storms can be particularly dangerous especially at high tide.  (If you are truly interested in studying more how it actually works, however, have no fear just check it out at low tide.)  

Wrapping Up

The best way to get there, in any case, is to take the Captain Cook Trail from the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area Visitor Center.  The best place to park your vehicle is just south of the visitor center.  Park on the west side of Highway 101.  Just don’t get too close as Thor’s Well remains an inspiring albeit dangerous site on the Oregon coast.

(All images used are courtesy of the original owners unless otherwise specifically indicated.)

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