Motors Allowed?
Difficult / Class C
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As a UNESCO biosphere reserve, Cascade Head is one of Oregon's most iconic headlands. However, most people are surprised to learn that below the weight of this massive basalt outcropping sits Oregon's longest sea cave. Unlike the majority of visitors who explore Cascade Head by trail, the arches and sea caves beneath the head are accessible only by sea kayak.

Departing from Knight Park on the north bank of the Salmon River, it is a roughly 1.1-mile paddle to the often choppy mouth of the river. From there it is only an additional 0.4 miles to the Cascade Head Sea Cave. Two Arches and countless other smaller stacks lie en route to Harts Cove, an additional 2.1 miles to the north, where Chitwood Creek plummets roughly 50 feet into the Pacific Ocean.

Cascade Head is part of the Cascade Head Marine Reserve and Marine Protected Areas. This means that there are specific prohibitions against fishing and the harvesting of fish, invertebrates, and seaweed. Check here for specific clarifications on regulations, exemptions, and a detailed representation of the area's boundaries.

Safety Note

Be sure to visit as the tide is going out. Do NOT enter cave during incoming tide! Outgoing tide will make passing the Salmon River bar much less tumultuous, and it will make entering the caves much safer. Check local tide tables before departure.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

General Day Use Fee


Oregon's longest sea cave.


Rough waves at the mouth of the Salmon River.

Water Temperature

32.00 °F (0.00 °C)


Whale watching
Bird watching

Typically multi-day


Shuttle required


Site characteristics: Water


Portage required




I've done this numerous times along with dozens of other sea caves along the West Coast. Ironically this is not nearly the longest cave in Oregon, because until two extremely long caves were surveyed in New Zealand in 2012 the "World's longest sea cave" happened to be our own Oregon Sea Lyon Caves. Also, Cape Falcon and Cape Lookout may have longer caves than Cascade Head's two large caves. Cape Falcon's has a chamber where three tubes meet with a small roof collapse giving it a beautiful skylight with bright colors from various algae. Cape Lookout's feature's a large opening with a central divider. The cave on the left is a very long one with an early section that is too narrow to paddle at normal tides which opens into a foggy 20 ft. wide tunnel that leads to a low ceiling that leads to another long foggy 20 ft. tunnel with and intimidating thunderous sound beyond where it gets dicey. I think it may actually go all the way through the cape ending in too tight of a constriction to navigate by kayak, perhaps even completely submerged.

Also, I can't see why a rising tide should be a problem in the Cascade Head cave given its very high ceiling and lack of current. There is a rock just before the entrance that can cause trouble at low tides with normal or above summer surf. The inside is much wider than the entrance, so surf in the cave is not a problem and there is a beach in the back with some rocks just short of that beach. I hope out here in low tides and walk the boat to this beach. Bill
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