How to spend one week in Oregon
Situated in the Pacific Northwest, Oregon is a desired location for nature lovers. Its varying landscapes, from mountains to beaches and forests to sand dunes, draw in residents and vacationers alike. Oregon has many outdoor and recreational (literally) opportunities. The state is not short of dispensaries.
I put together a seven day road trip through Oregon. Some highlights—like Mount Hood, Painted Hills and the western part of the state—were sacrificed due to the length of our stay. But this itinerary definitely provides an overview of what Oregon has to offer.
This trip has an aggressive itinerary with a lot of driving time. So make sure to choose the right group to go with because you’ll be spending a lot of time in the car.
Also, be prepared to have cash as most of the state and national parks and attractions have an entrance or parking fee.
Now, let’s go!
Land at PDX (Portland International Airport), rent a car and head out of the city to the coast—don’t worry, you’ll be back. Take a ride over the iconic St. John’s Bridge and continue onto Astoria, Seaside or other coastal town.
Spend the day exploring the history of Astoria or biking along the boardwalk in Seaside, and relax in the evening next to a campfire by Haystack Rock on Cannon Beach. Some hotels will let you purchase a s’mores package (even if you’re not staying there) if you aren’t able to bring supplies with you.
Grab a Buoy IPA brewed right in Oregon just north of here.
Today will be filled with a lot of driving, but also many pit stops. Drive a few hours along the coast on Highway 101. From coastal views, lighthouses, natural wonders and more, this drive is nothing short of scenic.
Ecola State Park
Right outside Cannon Beach, Ecola State Park has cliffside views of Crescent Beach and rock formations standing tall along the shoreline.
Also check out Cape Meares State Park if you want views similar to this one.
Hug Point State Recreation Site
Hug Point is home to an expansive sandy beach (at low tide), massive rocks, a cove and a waterfall.
Near Cape Perpetua, find a parking spot (it’s hard to come by) and hop out for this fascinating sight. As high tide comes in, watch the saltwater fill and disappear into the formed well.
Witness the seawater crash into a cave in the rock formation and with built-up pressure, emit a geyser-like spray of water high into the air.
Heceta Head Lighthouse
This lighthouse is the most popular in Oregon situated atop a cliff with picturesque views. Heceta Head Lighthouse has the strongest light beam of Oregon lighthouses—reaching 22 miles out to sea.
Learn more about Oregon’s original lighthouses here.
When you reach the city of Florence, cut over on Hwy 126 E to Eugene for the night. Eugene is the home to Oregon University.
Start making your way to Crater Lake. Depending on the amount of time you want to spend at Crater Lake, take a few stops along the way. This drive is absolutely beautiful.
Toketee Falls, located in Southern Oregon, is filled with many tourists because of its easy access. The short hike leads you to the singular viewpoint of the massive falls. Unless you’re willing to scale the cliffside to get to the base of the falls—this isn’t for the faint of heart.
Umpqua Hot Springs
A bumpy gravel road will lead you an inconspicuous landmark which you will park. While it may seem like this in the middle of nowhere, it is a fairly popular attraction. Hike about a mile up to the hot springs and enjoy the elevated forest views over the North Umpqua River.
Near Crater Lake, you may come across Diamond Lake. In the distance, Mount Bailey rises above this natural body of water.
Crater Lake National Park
We had to tack on even more time because our route was snow covered in May.
There was over 47 feet of snow during the 2016-17 winter!
Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the U.S. at 1,943 feet. This enormous body of water was formed when a volcano collapsed and sank into a depression. Its water is sourced from rain and snow. Due to its depth and purity, the lake radiates a brilliant blue color.
Depending on the month you visit, understand which trails are open. In late spring, the trails were still blocked or too dangerous to attempt without proper gear. The park averages 43 feet of snowfall per year. Because it covers roads leading into the park, crews work on snow removal with plows to clear about a quarter mile of road per day! Depending on the severity of the winter, it could be into the beginning of July before all roads are cleared and August when most of the snow melts before it comes again in the fall. Trails open up at different times
Crater Lake Lodge
This historic lodge opened in 1915 and positioned on the southwest rim of Crater Lake. It is the only in-park overnight accommodation with a delicious restaurant which you’ll want to make sure you have a reservation. Lie down in a lake-view room and get some rest to wake for the sunrise. You do not want to miss this. Experience the calmness and serenity of the landscape as you watch the morning sun rise over the far end of the lake.
My trusty companions.
This was one of the coolest experiences ever!
Spend the day hiking more trails at Crater Lake or head north to Bend.
Smith Rock State Park
About a half hour north of Bend, is Smith Rock State Park and its deep river canyon. The park offers many trails with varying degree of difficulty and terrain. We took Misery Ridge Trail—a steep 600 foot elevated route to the top and down around the monuments.
Don’t look, mom!
Finish the day by rewarding yourself with a beer flight at Deschutes Brewery.
Silver Falls State Park
Get up and head to Silver Falls State Park an hour outside of Salem. The Trail of Ten Falls is a popular 7.2 mile loop through the forest as you pass by at least ten waterfalls. (Unless a member of your group takes you miles the wrong way!)
The South Falls waterfall is most impressive with a 177-foot stream—you get to walk behind this one.
Spend the night in Salem or continue onto Portland.
Day 6 and 7
Take the last two days to unwind in Portland—filled with quirkiness and hippie vibes. The dream of the 90s is alive in Portland. Stroll around the city and see lots of bikes, food carts, coffee shops and microbreweries. Also, in some Portland bars, you will be able to order tater tots. Why? Because any bar that serves liquor must serve three hot food items. A cheap and easy alternative is tots.
If you’re not about the city scene, go visit more natural attractions outside the city along the Columbia River Gorge.
Multnomah is a half hour out of Portland and is the most visited waterfall in the Pacific Northwest. Its 611-foot cascade draws in millions of visitors a year. It is easily accessible for people of all ages to get a view of the falls. However, if you want more of a workout, follow the path from the bridge to the top of the falls.
Also in the area is the Oneonta Gorge. If you are up for the adventure, wade through the river—yes, this is the trail—between the narrow gorges that leads to Oneonta Falls.
We also drove to get a closer view of Mount Hood.
I hope this itinerary is helpful to you as you plan your time in Oregon. Enjoy the vast beauty of the state!
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