Thor’s Well in Oregon is a uniquely beautiful and mysterious natural phenomenon you’ll want to see with your own eyes! Located on the Oregon Coast near Yachats, Thor’s Well is a popular destination for road trippers and certainly worth the quick stop. In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about how to see Thor’s Well in Oregon, as well as a few other can’t miss sights nearby!
Thor’s Well in Oregon
As frightening as it is beautiful, Thor’s Well is a giant hole in the volcanic rock that lines the Oregon Coast where water bulges out and then seems to disappear underground. This area of the coast is particularly turbulent, and churning swirls of salty white water bubble in and out of the seemingly bottomless pit.
When a wave hits the rocky coastline, water bursts through Thor’s Well sinkhole and sprays into the air before retreating back the way it came, creating a waterfall-like effect. Sometimes called the “drainpipe of the pacific”, watching crashing waves as they drain back through Thor’s Well is an oddly mesmerizing experience.
It’s a beautiful display of the immense power of the Pacific Ocean!
Fun Fact | Thor’s Well is named after the Norse God of lighting, thunder and storms, inspired by an old legend behind the sinkhole’s origin.
Other oregon Resources
Looking for more to do on the Oregon Coast?! We’ve got lots of resources to help you plan your trip!
- Unique geological formations
- Quick and easy stop
- Beautiful rocky coastline
- This popular area tends to be crowded
- You have to time your visit with the tides in order to see water burst through Thor’s Well
Where is Thor’s Well?
Thor’s Well is located on the coast of the Pacific Ocean in Oregon, just south of Cape Perpetua. The closest town is Yachats, a small coastal town located about 5 minutes away on the central Oregon coast. Other nearby towns include Waldport (20 minutes north), Newport (40 minutes north), and Florence (30 minutes south).
Thor’s Well is located inside the Cape Perpetua Marine Reserve, the largest marine reserve in Oregon which stretches between Yachats and Searose Beach. As such, harvesting of seaweed or gathering of animals in the area around Thor’s Well prohibited in the area.
If you’re taking a road trip along the Oregon Coast or staying in Florence or Yachats, Thor’s Well is definitely worth a quick stop.
How was Thor’s Well formed?
It’s believed that the sinkhole now known as Thor’s Well was once an underwater cave. Years of thunderous waves crashing against the shore eventually caused the roof of the cave to collapse, leaving the massive sinkhole we see today!
And while Thor’s Well may appear bottomless, it’s actually only about 20 feet deep. Nonetheless, it’s not a hole I’d like to fall into… which brings us to the next section point!
Is Thor’s Well dangerous?
Thor’s Well is a deep pit through which powerful ocean waves erupt, so yes it’s dangerous. For obvious reasons, it’s not a place you want to be swept into.
With that in mind, it’s important to keep your distance from Thor’s Well. While it’s possible to walk all the way up to the edge of the sinkhole, it’s not recommended that you do so, especially at high tide. Additionally, never walk on the western side of Thor’s Well, between the ocean and the sinkhole.
Unexpectedly large waves, often referred to as “Sneaker Waves”, can come out of nowhere and have been known to sweep onlookers (and/or their belongings) into the raging ocean. To be extra careful, view Thor’s Well at a distance from the paved path that leads to the shore.
If you want to get closer, use your best judgment and remember that your safety is your responsibility!
Nearby: Cook’s Chasm and the Spouting Horn
Cook’s Chasm is a narrow inlet made of jagged volcanic rock off the Oregon Coast just south of Yachats. The wave-battered rocky coastline is a dramatic sight, especially at high tide when crashing water creates a turbulent churn and loud, thundering sounds.
The most notable geological feature is a blowhole known as the Spouting Horn, that resembles that of a geyser in Yellowstone when it “erupts”.
The Spouting Horn is a large crevice carved out of the volcanic rock that lines Cook’s Chasm. When the waves crash just right, water rushes through the hole creating a spray of salty water that shoots straight up into the air. As water hits rock, the loud echo followed by light whoosh as ocean water shoots up is a sight worth seeing.
Both Cook’s Chasm and the Spouting Horn may be seen on the trail to Thor’s Well.
When to visit Thor’s well in oregon
The weather on the Oregon Coast stays fairly mild year round, so it’s possible to visit Thor’s Well any time of year. During the summer (June through September), you can expect slightly warmer temperatures but average high’s typically don’t exceed 70 degrees.
In the winter (November through February), average high temperatures top out in the upper 40’s and lower 50’s making for chillier, but still typically pleasant for outdoor adventures.
The best time of day to visit Thor’s Well is about 1 hour before high tide, when the water is high enough to burst through Thor’s Well but not too high to be dangerous. When the tide is low, the waves typically don’t crash high enough to cause the impressive explosion of water through Thor’s Well.
Tip | Check high and low tide times at Thor’s Well before you go.
Tide Pools near Thor’s Well
The rocky coastline along which Thor’s Well is located is ripe with tide pools. These tide pools are often home to unique sea creatures, like sea urchins, star fish, crabs and anemone. Although it’s best to visit Thor’s Well at high tide to see the sinkhole fill with water, the tide pools are best accessed at low tide.
Just remember that this is a protected marine area, so it’s prohibited to take any animals or seaweed.
How to get to Thor’s Well
Thor’s Well is easily accessible via a short hike from the parking area on the Oregon Coast Highway. It’s also possible to extend the hike to include a few other amazing natural formations nearby, which we definitely recommend doing and will cover below!
Thor’s Well via Captain Cook Trail
- Distance | 0.4 miles
- Elevation gain | 80 feet
If you’re looking to just make a quick stop, hiking out and back to Thor’s Well is an easy roughly half-mile round trip hike. From the parking area, look for a sign for Thor’s Well and follow the paved path towards the ocean.
To get up close to Thor’s Well you’ll have to leave the paved trail and walk over the rocks on the coastline. Before reaching Thor’s Well, you’ll also get to see Cook’s Chasm and the Spouting Horn, located just south of Thor’s Well.
The parking area for Thor’s Well is located right off the Oregon Coast Highway, and is labeled Thor’s Well Trailhead on Google Maps. Parking is fairly limited with space for about 20 cars, but most visitors come and go pretty quickly so typically parking is not an issue.
Tip | The coast around Thor’s Well is prime territory for whale watching, especially during the whale migrations that occur from February to March and October to November each year. Pack a pair of binoculars and stay a while for the best shot at seeing them! We saw multiple whales during our time exploring the area.
Extend the hike
To extend your hike briefly, you can continue along the Captain Cook Loop trail, for a 0.75 mile round trip hike that allows you to see more of the tide pools and restless rocky coastline that make this area so beautiful.
For an even longer hike, we recommend the Devil’s Churn, Trail of the Restless Way, & Captain Cook Loop. This 1.6 mile loop starts from the trailhead for Devil’s Churn, a narrow rocky inlet on the Oregon Coast, where crashing waves produce an audible echo and create a swirling cauldron of foamy water! From Devil’s Churn, you’ll hike along the Trail of the Restless Way which leads along the coast before meeting up with the Captain Cook Trail to Thor’s Well.
The hike combines several amazing Oregon coast gems all in one short hike. It packs a big bang for your buck and is definitely worthwhile if you have a little extra time in the area.
A $5 per day fee is required to park at Devil’s Churn. The parking fee is also covered by the annual U.S. National Parks pass.
Things to know before you go
In summary, here are a few important tips before you visit Thor’s Well.
- Plan to visit about one hour before high tide for the best views of the water bubbling through and receding back out to the ocean from Thor’s Well.
- For the easiest access to Thor’s Well, park here for a half-mile round trip hike. For a longer 1.6 mile hike along the coast, park at Devil’s Churn.
- Although the trail to Thor’s Well is paved, if you want to get up close to Thor’s Well, you’ll need to walk over rough, rocky and slippery terrain. We’d recommend wearing a pair of shoes with some traction.
- If you decide to venture off the trail onto the rocks, use caution as the waves in the area are extremely powerful and tides can come in quickly.
Other things to do nearby
The area around Thor’s Well is one of our favorite sections of the Oregon Coast, and there are plenty of other great things to do nearby. Below we’ll highlight a few of our favorites in the area.
- Cape Perpetua Lookout | The Cape Perpetua Lookout is a beautiful viewpoint overlooking the rocky shoreline, located just 5 minutes from the trailhead for Thor’s Well. In fact, from the lookout, you can even see the coastline where Thor’s Well sits in the distance. You can drive up to the Cape Perpetua Lookout or take a 2.7 mile round trip hike from the Cape Perpetua Visitor’s Center.
- Yachats | Yachats is a cute little coastal town just a few minutes from the Thor’s Well trailhead. For an ice cold beer and the best fish and chips we’ve ever tasted, be sure to stop by the Luna Sea Fish House in Yachats after your hike!
- Heceta Head Lighthouse | Located about 15 minutes South of Thor’s Well is the Heceta Head Lighthouse. Perched high up on the rocky coastline, the Heceta Head Lighthouse is a beautiful sight. You can walk a short distance to see the lighthouse up close, or enjoy it from afar at a viewpoint along the Oregon Coast highway.
- Hobbit Beach & Hobbit Trail | Located between Thor’s Well and Heceta Head Lighthouse is a short 0.5 mile round trip hike through a mossy green forest that leads to the secluded Hobbit Beach. The wide sandy beach features views of the Heceta Head cliffs and is certainly worth the quick strip.
Other Oregon Resources
Looking for more incredible hikes and things to do in Oregon? You may also be interested in the following:
- The Hobbit Trail in Oregon: Hike to a Secluded Beach
- 21 Amazing Things to Do in Coos Bay, Oregon
- How to See the Spouting Horn in Cook’s Chasm
Questions about visiting Thor’s Well or other things to do in the area?! Drop us a note in the comments section below. We’re always happy to help!