As promised in my previous The Portland Travel Guide post, I am going to share with you my top-favorite locations to go to in Oregon. From high desert county to the east, breezy coast to the west, to mountains, rivers, and forest in between, I have got you covered. Get a car, enjoy the ride, and remember that ‘it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.’
If you search for any Oregon travel Guide, you will most likely see or hear about The 7 Wonders of Oregon.
- Columbia River Gorge
- Oregon Coast
- Painted Hills
- Crater Lake – Klamath Falls, Southern Oregon
- Smith Rocks – Terrebonne, Central Oregon
- Mt. Hood – Mount Hood, Mt. Hood & Columbia River Gorge
- The Wallowas – Joseph, Eastern Oregon
Since I have not been to all 7 and felt like I have not spent enough time to explore in some areas, I will break down this blog post in regions and specific places that I have been.
Cannon Beach is one of the most popular stops many people choose when visiting Portland, Oregon. I have made two trips there in the past year and a half of living here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Pacific City and New Port located south and also in the Oregon Coastline that I highly recommend you to check out. So whether you plan to do the entire drive or explore just a segment, plan to take it slow and make frequent stops.
Cannon Beach drive is just about an hour and a half without traffic, so keep in mind busy business and weekend hours. I have been here twice and gotta admit that Cannon Beach is beautiful any hour of the day or any time of the year. Just make sure you bring a blanket or layer up! It is breezy out here!
2. Cape Kiwanda – Haystack Rock, Pacific City
I took a trip to the Oregon Coast again for the weekend with Headlands Coastal Lodge and Spa. They kindly provided me with two night stay in exchange of a blog post and some social media content. Read that blog post, here. Climb the Sand Dune and check out the incredible Cape Kiwanda, bike along the beach, or simply soak in the ocean air.
3. New Port – Yaquina Bay & Devils Punch Bowl
We drove from Portland and spent the night at New Port on a spontaneous weekend adventure. After a long drive, we arrived at the Devil’s Punch Bowl, a naturally carved bowl in a rock headland. It was cold and late, so we headed to Local Ocean Seafoods restaurant for dinner. There’s access to the beach near Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, so check it out! Also from here, you can either head north or south along the Oregon coast, take it slow and make frequent stops.
4. Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake is one big deep blue lake formed after a violent volcanic past. Located in Southern Oregon, hiking, backpacking, camping, and picnicking, and sightseeing are popular dos within the park in the summer and early fall.
We met up with my boyfriend’s brother and his family on a weekend mid-October last year. They have a travel blog, Traveling Chus, and are currently on their 7-month road trip to all National Parks in the U.S. We all stayed the night at the Crater Lake Lodge since all camping access was closed for the season. We did the Lake Rim drive and check out a few historical landmarks, Phantom Ship Overlook, Pinnacles Overlook, and the Watchman Overlook for an unmatched view of the Wizard Island.
5. Proxy falls
Proxy Falls Loop Trail is an easy 1.6 mi trail located in Willamette National Forest. We stopped by Bend for a drink break after spending 2 days at Crater Lake. My boyfriend found us a hike since we had a few hours of sunlight so spare, and little did I know that it led to the most incredible falls I have ever seen.
6. Smith Rock State Park
Sheer cliffs of basalt rocks are what rock-climbing enthusiasts dreams are made of. The hike was fairly easy with unique river canyon view and sights of rock-climbers at all levels.
7. Painted Hills
Painted Hills is one of 7 Wonders in Oregon that you absolutely need to check out. Located in Mitchell, Oregon, a town that is about 4 hour drive southeast of Portland. Don’t miss the Insta-famous iron red Mars-like trail, called the Painted Cove Trail, and drive all the way in to see the red hills.
8. Drive the Journey Through Time
The most popular route is to start from Portland via I-84 and through the Columbia River Gorge. The Journey Through Time drive begins in the town of Biggs, 17 miles east of The Dalles on I-84 and must include a stop at Shaniko, a ghost town, and then Mitchell, where Painted Hills are.
We did the opposite drive starting from Portland, Smith Rocks, Painted Hills, and ended with an overnight stay at the Dalles. Imagine driving with view like orange-pinkish cotton-candied sky and endless fields of lushy green grass. Shaniko was deserted and creepy at night, so we just drove past it.
The Columbia River Gorge – Historic Columbia River Highway
Drive the historic Columbia River Highway since the Columbia River Gorge is home to incredible waterfalls and some of the finest hiking trails in the region. We stopped by the iconic Multnomah Falls twice, but it was closed due to the forest fire. Instead, we checked out Bridal Veil, Vista House, and Crown Point where the Insta-worthy highway loop was at.
9. Bridal Veil
The parking lots and trails to these waterfalls get super busy on summer weekends. I can get wet while hiking down to the falls, so wear waterproof gears. Promise you will be impressed.
10. Rowena Crest Point
Between this stop and the famous Vista House nearby, I definitely think stopping here is much more worth it. At the time, the Vista House was so crowded, and the line to the parking lot was a few miles out. Here you can literally see a panoramic view from above, pretty breathtaking in person.
I have yet to explore much more of the Southern Oregon area besides Crater Lake. Once the hiking season resumes, I will be sure to do a few drives down to Oregon and hike a few trails in the Mount Hood area as well. I hope you have found these City and Travel Guides helpful. Feel free to comment below or message me if you have further questions in terms of logistics or details of the locations I’ve suggested. Have a productive week, y’all.
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Photos by Toan Chu Photography