Oregon is More Than Just Portland – A 2 Week Road Trip Through Oregon

Clearwater Falls on the waterfall highway in Oregon
[Clearwater Falls on the “Waterfall Highway” was so damn pretty]
I was stoked when my friend and I decided to go on a 2 week road trip in Oregon. I’d wanted to go for ages, mainly because I love green spaces and mountains. And, well, it seemed like Oregon had both of those things.

I also think I have the opposite of the typical SAD (seasonal affectiveness disorder) in the sense that I feel quite upset if there aren’t enough rainy/cloudy days during the fall and winter.

Don’t get me wrong, I dig the sun, but my favorite weather consists of grey, cloudy days. Everything just seems more magical and epic and I feel so inspired to create and be creative. Anyone else feel the same??? Or am I alone in my love for all things NOT sunny?

"Welcome to Oregon" sign coming in from the California border
[Driving into Oregon from California]
Oregon basically felt like the American version of Ireland – it was so green my eyes hurt but in the best way. I haven’t been to Washington yet (jk I just got back from Seattle), but I’m guessing it’s Oregon x10.

Girl standing in a field of lupine and pine trees
[SO happy bc lupine!!!!!!!!!!!! On the way to Skylight Cave; Photo by Sabrina]

Our Itinerary: Burney Falls –> Crater Lake –> Umpqua Hot Springs –> Toketee Falls –> Tumalo Falls –> Bend –> Smith Rock State Park –> Skylight Cave –> Koosah/Sahalie Falls –> Blue Pool –> Proxy Falls -> Mt. Hood -> Portland -> Oregon Coast

Oregon Road Trip Itinerary including stops on the Oregon coast, Bend, Crater Lake National Park, and Portland!
[Our itinerary – we were lucky enough to spend 2.5 weeks road tripping around!]
Pathway in Mt Hood around Trillium Lake in Oregon
[Pathway in Mt Hood at Trillium Lake; classic Oregon scene]
Originally, we were thinking of doing one week in Oregon and one in Washington, but after doing more research realized there was SO MUCH to see in Oregon that we would just do the whole two weeks there. Washington I’ll get to ya eventually!

Helpful Note: In Oregon, they pump your gas for you! Lazy points for meeeee. I would probably move there just on that fact alone…But anyways, just be prepared. I did not realize this and was semi-freaked out when it was pouring rain, we stopped for gas, there was no one else around, and a guy immediately walked over and stared at us…

Here’s where we stopped along our road trip in Oregon!


McArthur Burney Falls in California
[The falls are sooo pretty! Still lightweight bummed I didn’t bring my tripod. This would be such a pretty place to visit during fall – it’s in northern NORTHERN California, so the leaves actually change color!]
Our first stop was McArthur Burney Falls! Eeeek I’d been wanting to visit since forever ever and I was so freaking happy to finally see this epic ass waterfall. You can see the falls directly from the parking lot, and in fact I think I only walked about 5 minutes to get this photo.

A short, easy walk takes you down to the bottom.

You do have to pay to park, and as of August 2020 it’s $10 per vehicle. For more information, visit the McArthur Burney Falls State Park page on Parks.ca.gov.


Cabin in snow in Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
[The cabin we stayed in at Crater Lake! It helps to have friends in the parks service…]
Foggy Crater Lake National Park in Oregon in the snow
[Our view of the lake the first couple days! We couldn’t see anything, and we were so scared that we wouldn’t get a good view at all…]
Crater Lake National Park in Oregon
[The second day! The view was getting a little better…]
THEN on to Crater Lake National Park! It just so happened that the weather decided to shit all over our plans and SNOW (yes, SNOW! In JUNE) but it ended up being really nice, actually.

My friend from college works for the parks service and they put her and her BF up with the cutest cabin and so we stayed with them for 2 nights. It was really really nice hanging out and talking and laughing and watching the snow fall outside.

Crater Lake National Park in Oregon in the snow
[Aaaand the last morning we were there, we got sooo lucky! The clouds cleared, and we were treated to this sublime sight]
We attempted to venture out to look at the lake which unfortunately was pretty fogged over the first 2 days, but on day 3 we got to see it! So so pretty.

And of course we went to the visitor center, because I love love love love-ity love visitor centers. They also recommended grabbing food at Crater Lake Lodge because they have amazing breakfast apparently. However, the views from there are worth just going to look, even if you don’t eat.

Of course you have to pay to enter since it’s a national park – it costs $30 in the summer and $20 in the winter per vehicle. Here’s a list of more fees.


Toketee Falls in Umpqua National Forest
[Toketee Falls was soooo pretty; so worth the (muddy) trek down. Be prepared with proper shoes and pants, because it’ll definitely be muddy, it’s a little steep, and there’s one portion where you have to use a rope; it’s a pretty quick walk down, though]
Umpqua Hot Springs in Oregon is surrounded by tall trees
[A portion of the hot springs; if I’d turned the other way, there would’ve been a ton of naked people]
Next we headed to the Umqpua National Forest region and went to Umpqua Hot Springs (so much nakedness – it’s clothing optional, just be aware). It’s about a quarter mile from the trailhead to the pools, but be warned that during the winter when it snows the trail isn’t paved so it adds another 1.5 miles. There is a toilet on site, and it’s $5 to park.

Toketee Falls was our next stop, and you should def hike down because it’s a lot prettier seen from the bottom! It’s only about a half mile down, and a pretty easy jaunt other to the lookout point where you get a great view of the falls. If you’re feeling really adventurous there’s a rope that leads you down to the base of the falls. It’s not advised, as it’s a little dangerous, so do this at your own risk. Parking is free.

We spent the night at a free (yes FREE! We used freecampsites.net to find free places to camp. You can read my post on finding free camping if you want more tips.) campsite about 45 minutes south of Bend. We just found a random forest service road that led us to a spot with some fire rings, so we knew it was legit.


Tumalo Falls near Bend in Oregon
[Tumalo Falls was so pretty! To get to this spot, you just hike down a little bit at the entrance. You can also do a short hike to view it from the top! If you look closely, you can see a person at the top in this photo, probably trying not to fall in]
Then we headed up to Tumalo Falls. You don’t even have to do any hiking to see them! We did hike to the top, though, which was about a mile on a paved path. Parking is $5.

View of Bend from Pilot Butte
[View of Bend from Pilot Butte]
After we’d had enough time ogling the falls, we drove to Bend to stay with one of my friends. We walked around the downtown area and then went to Pilot Butte (we were lazy and drove but you can totally walk/run/bike/crawl up it!) which I would highly recommend because it’s a super pretty view.


Smith Rock State Park and Monkey Face near Bend, Oregon
[Smith Rock State Park, as viewed from the backside of the park; Monkey Face is the large rock in the left foreground]
Next day we drove to Smith Rock State Park, and spent a night at the Bivy Campground there (only $5/night!).

I originally didn’t even really want to go (I’m much more of a forest person than a desert one), but I. LOVED. IT.

We saw so much wildlife – a bald eagle on its nest, a snake, Common Mergansers with chicks, Mallards with ducklings, and so many other birds! It’s also a huge climbing destination, so it was cool to watch the climbers do their thannggg.

We hiked Misery Ridge, but instead of going straight up it, we went the back way so it was a little less intense (normally we would’ve done it the other way, but we got to the park a little late in the day and wanted to make sure we had enough time do the hike by sunset – I swear!).

When we got up next morning, we drove out to Skylight Cave (and passed sooo much pretty lupine flowers!) but were too late for the actual skylights. Get there between 8AM and 10AM if you want pretty images with light beams. Parking was free and it was totally empty – we were the only people around! Do be aware that it’s only open from June – September.


Sahalie Falls in McKenzie River in Oregon
[Sahalie Falls; I didn’t think it was the prettiest waterfall, but it was about a 2 min walk from the parking lot]
Koosah Falls in McKenzie River in Oregon
[Koosah Falls was actually really pretty! It was a bit more of a walk, but not too far; maybe like 20 minutes or so from Sahalie]
When we left Skylight Cave, Google Maps took us up on a super sketchy backroad driving to Koosah & Sahalie Falls!

It was fine for the first 45 minutes and then got super intense out of nowhere. Lots of rocks and holes and hills and we almost got stuck a few times with no service!!

Ahhhh thank goodness we made it out with my car still alive…If you don’t have high clearance and/or a 4 wheel drive (I have a Honda CRV, so it has the clearance but isn’t a 4 wheel drive), I’d highly recommend going back out the way you came, instead of going straight to the McKenzie River area – not worth the sketchy drive!

The falls were flowin’ though! However, they were probably my least favorite waterfalls on the trip – at least Sahalie was. I did enjoy Koosah but thought the other falls we went to were much better. They were pretty easy to get to, though – Sahalie you can see a short walk from your car, and it’s about another mile or so to Koosah.

Proxy Falls in Oregon in the rain
[Proxy Falls & rain; it’s SO MUCH bigger than it looks in this pic! I took pics of my friend on the log and she was about the size of one of the rain drops in this photo]
We set up camp at Cold Water Cove Campground (there are TONS of campgrounds in that area, but they’re all a little pricey – I think ours was $17/night) and then got up the next morning to rain rain rain. We decided to go to the store to restock on foods, get reception, and check the weather but ended up going back after Proxy Falls for the rest of the day because rain.

But side note, Proxy is freaking amazing and beautiful and you should definitely go. One of my favorite waterfalls! You do need a recreation pass to park here.


Tamolitch Blue Pool in Oregon
[Blue Pool being its super Kool-Aid Great Bluedini-colored self]
Blue Pool was gorgeous and really is that freaking blue! It’s a pretty easy hike but I’d recommend getting there early, and trying to go on a weekday if you can, as it gets crowded fast. Do be sure to respect the area, as it’s very heavily trafficked 4 mile out and back trail.


Mt Hood as seen from Trillium Lake
[Clouds covering Mt. Hood; at one point there were clouds ONLY covering Mt. Hood in the exact shape of the mountain…Sigh]
Kayaker on Trillium Lake in Mt Hood in Oregon
[Kayaker on Trillium Lake]
Free campsite at Mt Hood in Oregon
[Free campsite at Mt Hood! There’s no running water, or bathrooms, but it’s free! This is what most free campsites we stayed at looked like]
We headed to Estacada to spend the night in a cheap motel (and shower!) and then went to Mt. Hood.

Unfortunately the clouds were covering Mt. Hood most of the time we were there, but it was still beautiful. We also camped there for free! There are sites you need to pay for but also quite a few free ones. They just don’t have a bathroom/showers/water but IMO it’s totally worth it.

We ended up taking a short walk around the lake, and staring at its beauty.


Girl standing in the Portland Rose Garden
[Frolicking in the rose garden]
Keep Portland Weird sign in Oregon
[Classic “Keep Portland Weird” sign]
Powell's Books in Portland, Oregon
[Looking look a dweeb (as per usual) in my natural habitat; Powell’s Books in Portland]
We then headed to Portland and stayed 2 nights. Luckily, we both had friends there that let us stay with them, and also acted as our tour guides which was super awesome.

We also did the Oneonta Gorge hike, which is super cool but I also probably would never do that again. The water is freezing and at one part you have to walk through it up to your midsection. So if you do decide to go, be prepared to get wet. It was gorgeous, though!

In Portland we did all the quintessential touristy things. I would highly recommend:

+ Salt & Straw Ice Cream (try alllll the flavors)
+ Voodoo Doughnuts (apparently Blue Star Donuts is better, but Voodoo has so many fun flavors, and it’s a classic!)
+ Portland Rose Garden (it’s totally free and so pretty!)
+ Drive around the hills and stare at the rich houses
+ Powell’s Bookstore
+ Multnomah Falls (we hiked to the top, it’s only about a mile but it’s a lot more intense than it seems as it’s all uphill!)
+ Eat at McMenamins – it’s a chain throughout the Pacific Northwest (or PNW for short), but each one is decorated differently (and tastefully), and the food is actually really good!

Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland, Oregon
[Voodoo Doughnuts in the classic pink box]
Alleyway in Portland, Oregon
[Cute alleyway in Portland, Oregon near Voodoo Doughnuts]


Beach houses Cannon Beach
[Pretty beach & beachhouses at Cannon Beach]
Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach in Oregon
[Haystack Rock from afar]
Cape Arago on the Oregon Coast
[Cape Arago]
Arch Rock on the Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor, one of my favorite stops along our road trip in Oregon
[Arch Rock on the Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor]
Then we headed down the coast for the next few days. I wish we had more time on the coast – it was beautiful!

Highlights included:
+ Cannon Beach – Haystack Rock is super cool! And has fantastic birding if you’re into that
+ Cape Arago – we did the trail to Nellie’s Cove – so pretty!
+ Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor – SO BEAUTIFUL. MUCH WOW. SUCH AMAZE. Is this the Caribbean or Oregon???? Jokes on you it really is a picture of the Caribbean. Jokes on you again because NOPE it’s Oregon!! Ahhhh. This whole stretch of coast is just amazing. Whatever you do, DON’T MISS IT!
+ All the cute little beach towns (wish we’d stayed a night in an AirBnb! Next time…)
+ Random pretty viewpoints (so many!!)
+ Driving through the Avenue of Giants (once back in California)

Beach town in Oregon
[Typical little beach town in Oregon]
And so. I absolutely adored Oregon.

Coquille RIver LIghthouse on the Oregon Coast
[Coquille River Light in Oregon is so freaking cute]

Sights Better Seen contains some affiliate links, and if you click one I may receive some commission (at no extra cost to you). But don't worry, I only recommend products/things I actually like and use. :)

4 thoughts on “Oregon is More Than Just Portland – A 2 Week Road Trip Through Oregon

  1. I visited Portland last Summer. It was beautiful. Only, I had the your itinerary, it would have been so much more fun.
    Beautiful Pictures. Keep posting and updating us!
    Thank you

    1. Thank you so much, Pratik! I’m glad you enjoyed the article, and feel free to steal the itinerary for any future trips! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *