Thors Well, located on the Central Oregon Coast, is the most dramatic, awe-inspiring seascape to photograph on the entire West Coast. This is a big statement for anyone who has photographed the incredible sea stacks of Washington, Big Sur in California, or the countless world-class coastal features that Oregon is home to.
With that drama comes plenty of risk, and plenty of reward. Carefully planning for your visit to photograph Thors Well is essential to having a safe and successful outcome. Previous to this, I had tried researching key factors such as tide height to sync my trip perfectly with the ideal conditions, only to find the information vague and limited. Accordingly, I have now made 5 visits to Cape Perpetua, the home of Thors Well. In addition to photographing Cape Perpetua, I went with the specific intention of studying it. I watched Thors Well carefully through different tides and times, noting when conditions were best for shooting.
This photography guide to Thors Well attempts to provide answers for every question that I had prior to my visits. Thors Well, Oregon is a collapsed sea cave on the waters edge of the Cooks Chasm region of Cape Perpetua. The eroded hole in the roof of the cave sits right about water level, which creates the illusion of a hole in the ocean! This geological phenomenon creates a powerful photography composition, as well as a unique visual experience. During different tides, water both erupts from the hole due to pressure under the surface, and also crashes in over the top from incoming waves.
The result of this activity is a rapid, dramatic drain that flows back into Thors Well almost as if the ocean itself has sprung a leak. You will find and access Thors Well from the Cooks Chasm parking lot in the Cape Perpetua scenic area of the Central Oregon Coast. The nearest town is Yachats, which is a semi-sleepy coastal town located just 5 minutes away.
You may not even notice Thors Well immediately from the parking lot above. Be forewarned that it is not the magnificent hole you expect from the photos! While it looks plenty big when you’re staring into it, the hole is smaller than most people expect at first encounter. Photographing it from up-close with a wide angle lens gives it a much larger appearance.