A 20-Foot-Wide Sinkhole Has Opened Up at Cape Kiwanda

Visitors are asked to respect the barrier that’s been placed around the depression, which could grow larger.

The Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department is warning people to steer clear of a sinkhole that has developed at Cape Kiwanda.

Staffers were notified about the depression Sunday, Jan. 23, which measures 20 feet wide and 15 feet deep. It’s located in the Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area in the lower northwest corner of the coastal town’s iconic dune.

The Parks Department has since cordoned off the area and visitors are asked to respect the barrier for their own safety. The sinkhole could grow larger at any moment, and additional cavities in the sand could appear nearby. Also remember to keep your pets on leashes and children away from the edges of the barrier.

“The cape is a dynamic environment. Please be aware of your surroundings, stay clear of any dangerous areas, including this one,” park manager Jason Elkins stated in a press release. “Obviously people are curious and may want to see it for themselves, but we ask that you respect the barriers that are in place and observe from a distance.”

The opening of the hole is a reminder that Cape Kiwanda is actually something of a geological oddball along the Oregon Coast. It’s a sandstone outcropping that is much weaker and prone to sudden changes compared with hardier, rocklike basalt, which forms most of our ocean headlands.

Oregon Parks and Rec is trying to figure out what caused the sinkhole and continues to monitor the situation. If you spot any concerning developments in the area, report them to Cape Lookout State Park staff at 503-842-4981.