Top 11 Best Day Trips From Oregon

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Oregon day trips lead to a plethora of amazing places to explore, from vast high deserts to lush alpine forests. Whether it's hiking under waterfalls, driving ... read more...

  1. The Rowena Crest Viewpoint is one of Oregon's most Instagrammable natural overlooks, located about an hour and a half east of Portland. It is well-known for its distinctive horseshoe-shaped curve, which is one of the most photographed spots in the state. The Rowena Plateau trail leads to the Tom McCall Nature Preserve, where in the spring, swaths of long, golden-yellow grass explode with vibrant wildflowers. The Tom McCall Point Trail makes this one of the Gorge's more popular, easy hikes, and a great option for young families.

    The dirt trail has a moderate incline, and as you continue up the hill, you'll see sweeping views of the high desert. But keep an eye out for rattlesnakes, who like to sunbathe on the pathway! The exposed trail also has little shade and can be quite windy—after all, this is the Columbia Gorge. The summit is actually just under two miles in; you can continue all the way up until you reach a chain link fence, but this is the best vantage point. With its winning combination of killer views, the easy trails and being a quick drive from town, Rowena Crest is one of the best hikes near Hood River and a great way to enjoy a bird’s-eye perspective of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.

    Google rating: 4.9/5.0
    Address: 6500 Historic Columbia River Hwy, Mosier, OR 97040
    Distance from Oregon City: 81.4 miles
    Travel Time from Oregon City: 1 hour 24 minutes
    Best Months to Visit: May

  2. You'd be hard pressed to find more beautiful views than these. Crown Point, located at the western end of the Gorge, provides a front-row seat to the mighty Columbia as it unfurls and cuts through the Cascade mountains. From there, dozens of breathtaking waterfalls, including the famous Multnomah, Bridal Veil, and Latourell falls, cascade from basalt cliffs along the Historic Columbia River Highway. As you travel east, the landscape appears to grow larger, grander, and brighter.

    Bring your sense of adventure because the Gorge was designed to be explored. Walk along the beach, look for hidden waterfalls, follow the wildflowers at Rowena Crest, or take on Dog Mountain. Cycle the back roads of The Dalles or the Post Canyon mountain bike network. And it's difficult to resist water sports on the Columbia, especially when Hood River is known as the world's windsurfing capital.

    But the Columbia River Gorge is more than just beautiful scenery. There's also plenty of handcrafted beer and farm-fresh food. The Gorge boasts a world of wine, thanks to its unique geography, ranging from pinot noir and chardonnay in the cool western hills to tempranillo and syrah in the drier, sunnier east.

    Google rating: 4.8/5.0

    Location: the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest of the United States

    Distance from Oregon City: 22.7 miles

    Travel Time from Oregon City: 23 minutes

    Best Months to Visit: Late April through June, September and October
  3. Multnomah Falls, located near the cities of Dodson and Corbett on the Columbia River, is one of the country's most beautiful natural waterfalls, roaring more than 610 feet over a drop. The impressive Columbia River Gorge's awe-inspiring waterfall is accessible via the Historic Columbia River Highway and Interstate 84, less than half an hour outside of Portland. A beautiful viewing area allows visitors to see both tiers of the falls while also learning about indigenous American legends about how the falls were created by the gods to win the heart of a young princess.

    The Benson Bridge, named after Portland businessman Simon Benson, spans the falls at its first-tier base, providing panoramic views of both tiers. Whether you climb to the top or peer up from the bottom, dress warmly and wear shoes with traction, because the waterfall’s spray makes the entire area cool and slick. Dressing for the water also means you’re already prepared for rainy weather if storm clouds happen to roll into the Columbia River Gorge during your visit.

    Google rating: 4.7/5.0

    Location: Pacific Northwest, Oregon

    Distance from Oregon City: 36.4 miles

    Travel Time from Oregon City: 37 minutes

    Best Months to Visit: year round
  4. Cape Lookout State Park is a charming Oregon state park located about an hour and a half west of Portland. It was built on 975 acres of land once owned by the United States Lighthouse Service. Though the park was originally intended to be a natural preserve, the Civilian Conservation Corps added day-use picnic facilities throughout the 1930s.

    Today, the park is one of Netarts Bay's most popular day-use areas, with excellent opportunities for beachcombing and nature hiking. Three miles of beautiful waterfront along a sand spit offer stunning views of the bay and the Pacific Ocean. A nature trail meanders through native trees and plants for more than two miles, following the park's headland. Visitors can go whale watching, hang gliding, paragliding, or exploring the interpretive center at the park. There are tent and full hookup campsites available for overnight stays, as well as 13 rental yurts and six deluxe cabins.

    Google rating: 4.7/5.0
    Location: between the Pacific Ocean and the Bay of Netarts
    Distance from Oregon City: 97.3 miles
    Travel Time from Oregon City: 1 hour 48 minutes
    Best Months to Visit: March to June
  5. Mount Hood ranks 5th in the list of the best day trips from Oregon. It is a massive 11,250-foot potentially active stratovolcano in the Cascade Volcanic Arc, about an hour southeast of Portland. The mountain is Oregon's highest peak and one of the most recognizable, lofty peaks in the contiguous United States. It is situated within the 1,067,000-acre Mount Hood National Forest, which offers over 1,200 miles of delightful hiking trails to visitors all year.

    Every year, a large number of visitors flock to Mt. Hood to embark on a climbing adventure. In fact, the mountain attracts 10,000 climbers each year! Because the mountain has many snow fields and glaciers at 7,000 feet and higher, it's a winter wonderland all year. Once at those altitudes, there are numerous ice caves and other natural wonders to be discovered. The mountain is easily accessible, and the southern side is said to be the easiest to climb. If you do decide to climb Mt. Hood, make sure you have all of the necessary technical equipment because there are some difficult crevasses, stretches, and loose rocks.

    Mt. Hood
    provides an excellent opportunity for hiking exploration. The Timberline Trail is one of Mt. Hood's most popular hiking trails. This trail is authentic. It was established in the 1930s by a group known as the Civilian Conservation Corps and has allowed people to experience the mountain's calm serenity and beauty. The trail circles around the entire mountain which means it’s a whopping 40 mile hike! Yikes! If you’re desiring to do some serious, long-distance hiking, then you’ll have the option to rise as high as 7,300 feet on the Timberline Trail.

    Google rating: 4.7/5.0
    Location: Cascade Volcanic Arc, Oregon
    Distance from Oregon City: 38.3 miles
    Travel Time from Oregon City: 51 minutes
    Best Months to Visit: April - June
  6. The Willamette Valley is one of the most beautiful natural regions in the Pacific Northwest, as well as Oregon's premier wine country region, with over 500 wineries. The 19,000-acre region stretches along the pristine Willamette River, surrounded on three sides by the Cascade, Oregon Coast, and Calapooya Mountain ranges. Several American Viticultural Areas have been designated in recent decades to capitalize on the region's cool climate and distinct terroir. Some of the world's best Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris varietals are produced by wineries such as Penner-Ash Wine Cellars, Willakenzie Estate, Archery Summit, and Sokol Blosser Winery.

    If you ask where to find the best local food and drinks in the Willamette Valley, don't be surprised if you get a dissertation rather than a recommendation. The term "local" is taken seriously here. In their distinctive Oregon brews, craft brewers use locally grown hops and barley. Farmers raise grass-fed beef and sun-soaked berries; foragers forage for wild mushrooms; and chefs transform all of this goodness into unforgettable meals. You can visit picturesque farms, meet the growers, walk the fields, and pick a basket of fresh produce to take home with you in wine country.

    When visiting Oregon Wine Country, don't expect to sit still for long; there are far too many things to see and do. Try cycling between vineyards on the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway or paddling the Willamette River, a nationally recognized water trail, to immerse yourself in the heart of the valley. Hike through protected natural wildlife areas, stopping to smell the flowers, count the birds, and study endangered butterflies. Enjoy ancient forests, rugged mountain peaks, and breath-taking waterfalls.

    Google rating: 4.6/5.0
    Location: Oregon, Pacific Northwest region of the United States
    Distance from Oregon City: 45.7 miles
    Travel Time from Oregon City: 48 minutes
    Best Months to Visit: July and August
  7. Cannon Beach ranks 7th in the list of the best day trips from Oregon. It is a well-known, picturesque seaside small town. It has been named the "best overall beach in Oregon," one of America's best art towns, and one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Cannon Beach, named after a naval cannon that washed up after a shipwreck in the 1840s, has a lot of character. Haystack Rock is a massive towering rock formation off the coast, surrounded by stone "needles," vibrant tidepools, and flocks of seabirds. Ecola State Park, located nearby, is perched dramatically on the edge of a cliff and offers panoramic coastal views, easy walking paths to scenic picnic areas, and extensive hiking trails.

    Cannon Beach, known as one of the Northwest's top art towns, is brimming with art galleries, specialty shops, cafes, and fine dining restaurants. Visitors can watch glass blowers at work in their studios or attend live theater performances all year. This creative edge can be seen in everything from the town's residents' sensibility to the annual sandcastle building competition, which features stunning works of art adorning the sandy beach.

    Google rating: 4.5/5.0

    Location: Clatsop, Oregon

    Distance from Oregon City: 94.3 miles

    Travel Time from Oregon City: 1 hour 39 minutes

    Best Months to Visit: July through early September
  8. Sauvie Island, also known as Wapato Island, is the largest island in Oregon's Columbia River, covering 26,000 acres in total. The Manhattan-sized island is one of the largest river islands in the United States, and it is a popular natural excursion destination throughout the Portland area. It is located less than ten minutes from Portland's downtown district, at the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers.

    The 2.4-mile Oak Island Nature Trail winds through fields near Steelman and Sturgeon Lakes and features 500-year-old Oregon white oak trees and black-capped chickadees. The two-mile Wapato Access Greenway State Park Trail features Douglas fir trees, mammoth bigleaf maples, and bald eagle populations, while the seven-mile Warrior Rock Lighthouse Trail features the state's smallest lighthouse. The island is also known for its pick-your-own farms, such as Kruger's Farm, where weekly summer concerts are held.

    Depending on water levels, the island lakes of Sturgeon Lake, Steelman Lake, and Mud Lake offer warm water fishing for perch, crappie, and catfish from March to June. Follow Oregon's Fishing and Wildlife Regulations, which are updated seasonally.

    Google rating: 4.5/5.0

    Location: north of Portland, Oregon

    Distance from Oregon City: 37.4 miles

    Travel Time from Oregon City: 49 mins

    Best Months to Visit: September - March
  9. Bagby Hot Springs, located about an hour southeast of Portland in the Cascade Mountain Range, is one of Mount Hood National Forest's most unique attractions. The purportedly healing springs are made up of three major flows and several minor outlets, the largest of which flows 24 gallons per minute and reaches lovely warm temperatures of 138 degrees Fahrenheit. Visitors can unwind at the springs' three on-site bathhouses, which are open to the public daily during the morning and evening hours. The main bathhouse has five luxurious cedar log tubs, while the smaller bathhouses have two intimate Japanese-style yellow pine soaking tubs.

    The Bagby Day Use area is normally open as long as hosts and managers have access to the site. The site is no longer maintained when roads become impassable. The Bagby Campground officially closes after Labor Day, and no services or hazard monitoring are provided until the following spring, usually in early April.

    Visitors are strongly discouraged from attempting to drive in once the roads are snow-covered. A few inches of snow can obscure icy roads and soft shoulders, causing vehicles to become stuck. Winter storms can cause rockslides and trees to fall. Local roads and trails are not maintained for winter travel, and there is no cell coverage in the area for emergencies.

    Google rating: 4.3/5.0
    Location: the Clackamas River, Oregon
    Distance from Oregon City: 81.8 miles
    Travel Time from Oregon City: 2 hours 29 minutes
    Best Months to Visit: January - March
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    Bend is a charming city located along Oregon's Deschutes River, just west of the stunning Cascade Mountains. Men's Journal named the city, which was incorporated in 1905, as one of the best places to live in the United States. It is known for receiving over 300 days of spectacular sunshine each year. Its recently revitalized downtown district is home to quirky stores, arts venues, and cafes such as Ranch Records, the Capitol live music venue, and local favorite Thump Coffee Roasters.

    Over 300 miles of hiking and biking trails, located in 71 area parks, are easily accessible from the city's downtown district, including skiing and snowboarding resorts on nearby Mount Bachelor. Fans of unusual roadside attractions can also visit the world's last remaining Blockbuster Video store, which is located within city limits. Bend is also a great place for family fun, with activities ranging from cool cave tours in some of Bend's ancient lava tubes to watching raptors soar at the High Desert Museum. When you're done having fun, Bend's diverse lodging options will recharge you. What is your Bend adventure going to be?

    Google rating: 4.0/5.0

    Location: Deschutes County, Oregon

    Distance from Oregon City: 110 miles

    Travel Time from Oregon City: 3 hours, 20 minutes

    Best Months to Visit: June, July, August, and September
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    Eugene, located along the banks of the beautiful Willamette River just two hours south of Portland's downtown district, is one of Oregon's most picturesque cities. The city is well-known for its arts and outdoor attractions, such as the stunning Mount Pisgah Arboretum, which stretches for 85 acres along the side of the same-named peak. The beautiful University of Oregon in the city is home to visitor attractions such as the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, which is known for its Asian art collections, and the Museum of Natural and Cultural History.

    Kesey Square and the halls of the hip Fifth Street Public Market are lined with delicious cafes, restaurants, and food trucks, including regional favorites like Voodoo Doughnuts and Sizzle Pie. Visitors can also attend theatrical and music performances at the Hult Center or explore the city's extensive parks system, which is home to sites like the lovely riverside Alton Baker Park and the beautifully-landscaped Hendricks Park.

    Google rating: 4.0/5.0
    Location: U.S. state of Oregon, in the Pacific Northwest
    Distance from Oregon City: 107.1 miles
    Travel Time from Oregon City: 1 hour 43 minutes
    Best Months to Visit: year round

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