The amazing thing about the West Coast is that it is still mostly wild, open, and astoundingly beautiful country, where you can drive for miles and miles and have the scenery all to yourself.
For more than 300 miles along the Oregon coast, US-101 abounds with national forests, state parks, and viewpoints. But unless you have your whole lifetime to spend here, Cape Perpetua, two miles south of Yachats, deserves most of your attention. Stop first at the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center (541/547-3289), just east of US-101, for seacoast views and exhibits on forestry and area history. From the visitors center, trails lead across the highway past wind-bent trees, piles of seashells and other artifacts left behind by native peoples, excellent tide pools, and two coastal rock formations: the Devil’s Churn, right on US-101 at the north edge of Cape Perpetua, and the Spouting Horn, off US-101 a half mile south of the visitor center. During stormy seas, especially in winter, both are amazing spectacles, with the Spouting Horn shooting huge spouts of foam 50 feet high into the air through a hole in the roof of a collapsed, underwater lava cave.
You can reach the top of 800-foot-high Cape Perpetua itself by following a two-mile-long road, marked by Cape Perpetua Viewpoint signs and leaving US-101 100 yards or so north of the visitors center. Once atop the cape, walk the Whispering Spruce Trail, a half-mile loop around the rim of the promontory that yields, on a clear day, 150-mile views of the Oregon coast from a rustic, WPA-built stone observation point.
The friendly folks at the visitors center can also point you toward Cape Perpetua’s very attractive campground. Or if you want a more comfortable place to spend the night, the Oregon House (541/547-3329, $95 and up), on US-101 six miles south of Cape Perpetua, has spacious apartment-like rooms, some with fireplaces and ocean views, and all with access to the well-tended grounds and trails leading down the bluffs to a gem of a sandy cove.