The Oregon coast is famous for its dramatic seaside cliffs and headlands. One of the must-see spots along this photogenic shoreline is the Devil’s Punchbowl. Luring hikers into a beautiful open-sky cavern during low tide, the site fills with roiling sea water at high tide.

Located in Otter Rock, near the small seaside town of Depoe Bay, the Devil’s Punchbowl is a quick jaunt off U.S. 101. The short drive and short hike is well worth the visual reward.

Walking inside the cavern is possible only at low tide.
Walking inside the cavern is possible only at low tide. (Photo: Bob Pool/Shutterstock)

The structure got its name from the swirling churn of the sea as waves fill the rocky bowl like a witch’s brew. The bowl becomes a deadly trap for anyone caught inside when the tide comes up, but when the tide is out, visitors have a chance to walk inside and revel at the geological history still written upon the sandstone walls. Anyone interested in geology, photography or just a unique experience should check the tide charts and venture inside!

An aerial view of the cliff shows the rock feature.
An aerial view of the cliff shows the rock feature. (Photo: Russ Heinl/Shutterstock)

The Devil’s Punchbowl was created when two sea caves eroded into one large cave and eventually the ceiling collapsed. The rock that forms the cave is sandstone and siltstone, which erodes relatively easily. As constantly crashing waves ate away at the sandstone, the cave grew bigger until the top fell in.

Visitors must leave the cavern as the tide comes in or risk death.
Visitors must leave the cavern as the tide comes in or risk death. (Photo: Dylan Freedom/Shutterstock)

According to BeachConnection, "At some point over the millennia this sandstone existed, rock-boring clams made their homes in these channels going into the Punchbowl. Such holes are still visible today during extreme low tide events. Also, wood fossils have been found in the structure of the Punchbowl as well.”

Devil's Punchbowl is a beautiful must-see stop along the coastal drive in Oregon.
Devil's Punchbowl is a beautiful must-see stop along the coastal drive in Oregon. (Photo: Panpilas L/Shutterstock)

No matter the tide level, visitors can see the bowl from above, walking to the vista at the park on the headland. From this safe vantage point, you can watch the beauty and power of the ocean as winter swells slam huge waves into the cliff and water violently swishes and foams inside the bowl’s walls.