Located 3 miles south of Yachats, this volcanic remnant was sighted and named by England's Captain James Cook in 1778. Famous for dramatic rock formations and crashing surf, the area contains numerous trails that explore ancient shell middens, tide pools and old-growth forests. Views from the cape are incredible, taking in coastal promontories from Cape Foulweather to Cape Arago.
For spectacular ocean views, head up Overlook Rd to the Cape Perpetua day-use area.
Deep fractures in the old volcano allow waves to erode narrow channels into the headland, creating effects such as Devil's Churn, about a half-mile north of the visitor center. Waves race up this chasm, shooting up the 30ft inlet to explode against the narrowing sides of the channel. For an easy hike, take the paved Captain Cook Trail (1.2 miles round trip) down to tide pools near Cooks Chasm, where at high tide the geyser-like spouting horn blasts water out of a sea cave. (There's also parking along Hwy 101 at Cooks Chasm.)
The Giant Spruce Trail (2 miles round trip) leads up Cape Creek to a 500-year-old Sitka spruce with a 15ft diameter. The Cook's Ridge–Gwynn Creek Loop Trail (6.5 miles round trip) heads into deep old-growth forests along Gwynn Creek; follow the Oregon Coast Trail south and turn up the Gwynn Creek Trail, which returns via Cook's Ridge.
The visitor center details human and natural histories, and has displays on the Alsi tribe.