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The Terrifying Devils Churn in Oregon Is a Must-See

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Looking down the crevice cut through the Earth at Devil's Churn as waves crash against rock.

Situated along the Oregon coast is Siuslaw National Forest, and within its boundaries is the terrifying Devil’s Churn. Although it fills visitors with fear, it also fills them with awe.

The Oregon coastline is known for its scenic locations and wildlife. Visitors travel here for free beach access and to visit the coastal towns. Additionally, the marine ecology is one of the most diverse in the world.

Let’s learn more about why Devil’s Churn is a must-see when visiting Oregon.

What Is Devils Churn?

Devils Churn is a narrow inlet of the Pacific Ocean that cuts into the Oregon coastline just south of Yachats, OR. For thousands of years, a sea cave naturally formed from the waves crashing up against the shore.

Eventually, the lava tube collapsed, forming a volcanic terraced tide pool. The waves pushing through the passage splash hundreds of feet in the air.

Devil’s Churn slowly gets bigger as the ocean’s wave repeatedly crash against the rocks.

When you stand above Devil’s Churn, you see a majestic, powerful wonder. You can hear the waves crashing and churning. Knowing a deep chasm lies beneath can take your breath away.

But it’s also perilous. It’s certainly worth adding to your bucket list but approach with caution. Rocks can be slippery, and the unpredictable and powerful waves can easily knock over someone.

Getting to Devils Churn

To visit Devil’s Churn, you must enter the Siuslaw National Forest. It’s managed by the US Forest Service and requires a $5 day-use fee. There’s a small parking lot near the Restless Waters Trailhead.

This easy hike in the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area is suitable for all skill levels. The 0.4-mile loop takes you to Devil’s Churn and other lookouts along the Pacific Coast.

On the west side of Highway 101, just north of the Cape Perpetua Visitor’s Center, you’ll find the Devil’s Churn Day Use parking lot. It’s about 11 miles south of Waldport.

The information center is open Thursday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., but visitors can pay the day-use fee using the cash-only self-service fee tube.

The Dangers of Devils Churn

Devil’s Churn is highly volatile, especially in the winter. The waves are strong enough to knock over a person and throw around tree logs. It’s amazing but extremely powerful.

The closer you get to the edge, the more dangerous your situation becomes. Read the posted warning sign that explains these dangers. It mentions the rip currents, sneaker waves, and unstable cliffs. Climbing is prohibited.

Have People Died at Devils Churn?

In 2021, a California man ventured too close to the edge and lost his footing. Witnesses say he tried to jump across the chasm to catch himself. Hikers immediately formed a line, trying to rescue him. They held onto him with belts and ropes while he was in the water for over twenty minutes.

They waited for medical personnel and a rescue team to arrive, which came too late. Onlookers recall seeing head injuries, presumably from the waves bashing his head against the rocks. Eventually, the man drowned, and they never recovered his body.

Take extreme caution when visiting Devil’s Churn.

You can find many similar stories of other hikers falling into Devil’s Churn. Here you find a danger that parallels the beauty. The ocean is unpredictable. The wet rocky cliffs are difficult to traverse. If you venture out too far, you risk your life.

Know Before You Go

You’ll need to pay the $5 day-use fee to visit Siuslaw National Forest. You can purchase this pass online before arrival at Recreation.gov or at the self-service fee tube.

The forest has a handful of fee-free days during the year, including President’s Day, National Get Outdoors Day, National Public Lands Day, and Veterans Day. If you plan on visiting multiple times, you’ll need a day pass for each day.

An aerial photograph shows how far in from the coast Devil's Churn has carved as it approaches a coastal road.
Stop in to view Devil’s Churn and then spend a day exploring Siuslaw National Forest with your day pass.

Other Things to See in Siuslaw National Forest

Camping, biking, hiking, fishing, horseback riding, and wildlife viewing are common outdoor recreational activities in Siuslaw National Forest. Mary’s Peak is a popular hiking destination with stunning 360-degree views of the Coast Range and the Willamette Valley. It’s also the tallest peak at 4,097 ft above elevation.

You can reserve a spot at most of the campgrounds in the area on Recreation.gov. The Sand Lake Recreation Area and the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area are two popular Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) riding areas. They also have campgrounds. Just make sure to note where you can and can’t ride.

Traveler’s Tip: Check out this 230-year-old town on Oregon’s coast.

Stay Away From the Edge at Devils Churn

Devil’s Churn on the Oregon coast is a beautiful display of nature’s power. But it’s one to observe at a distance. Don’t risk your life by trying to get the perfect selfie or seeing just how close you can get. You can easily see the majesty of Devil’s Churn from afar. 

Make sure you aren’t in tomorrow’s headlines and stay away from the edge. However, you can enjoy the beauty and have a fun adventure exploring the forest and seeing the beautiful coastline. Have you ever been to Devil’s Churn?

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