If there ever was anything good for the soul, it would be a road trip to Oregon. The Pacific Northwest as a whole is a MUST see for any bucket list, and is a definite contender for being one of the best states to road trip. My husband and I were able to do a big road trip to Oregon in 2020 a week after we got married. It was in an incredible, jaw-dropping adventure and I honestly can not recommend it enough!
Of course, the name ‘road trip’ entails that you will be covering a lot of ground, and spending a lot of time in the car. We even slept in our car during our trip! This is a list of all of my favorite stops (and a few places that I wish we had stopped at) on our road trip to Oregon, which I meticulously planned for. If you were to go to every destination on this list, you would have to cover around 660 miles. If you’re not looking for too long of a road trip, there are plenty of amazing things to see in any one area!
I did focus most of my time near the coast, with the furthest inland destination being Mount Hood, so keep that in mind when planning your own road trip. All of our destinations were also nature stops – no restaurants or museums, etc. There is also some light to moderate hiking involved, but nothing that goes beyond 4.3 miles! If you want to follow the exact road trip to Oregon that my husband and I did, or you want to use it as a framework, feel free to follow this Google Map!
Let’s get to it!
The ultimate road trip to Oregon Destinations
Samuel H Boardman Scenic Corridor
Oh, if I could have spent a whole week just on the Samuel H Boardman scenic corridor I would have. I wasn’t expecting it to be so beautiful, or I would have planned more days for it! Unfortunately we only had about 24 hours, but we made the most of it.
The first picture above is on the Indian Sands trail, which is mainly a field of wildflowers and some small sand dunes on the cliffs above the ocean. Wildflowers + ocean = everything, amiright? The second picture is at the Natural Bridges. We did have to hike a bit to get to this view. The good news – nobody else was there and we had it all to ourselves for hours. It was absolutely surreal. The bad news – it can be a scary hike. Definitely NOT as scary as some of the all trails people make it sound, but it would definitely be considered DIFFICULT and should be hiked with care! The trail is very steep, the dirt is loose, and you are never too far from the cliff side.
With that warning in mind though, I do definitely recommend it if you are experienced enough to take it on! If you plan to hike down to this lookout like we did, be sure to read this blog post by Whimsy Soul, she gives direct instructions on how to get down there and I found it extremely helpful during my trip.
While I was unfortunately not able to see every stop on the corridor, here is a list of all of the stopping points. If you have the time, they will all be worth the visit.
- Cape Ferrelo Viewpoint
- House Rock Viewpoint
- Whaleshead Viewpoint
- Natural Bridges
- Seal Cove and Thunder rock
- Secret Beach
- Spruce Island Viewpoint
- Arch Rock
Maybe I just have a soft spot for beaches with craggy rocks and cliffsides everywhere you look. It’s a possibility, for sure. But either way, I think that Gold Beach is worth the stop.
I tried not to add too many beaches to this list, but what else are you going to do when you’re on the most beautiful coast in America? Just my personal opinion. And you couldn’t ask for a more beautiful place to stop and stretch your legs!
Heceta Head and Yaquina Head Lighthouses
I had to at least put these two lighthouses on the list. There are many lighthouses on the coast of Oregon, but these two are my favorite, and in my personal opinion, the most photogenic as well. These two lighthouses are 42 miles apart, about an hour drive.
God’s Thumb: 4.3 miles out & back
I don’t remember why, but we never made it to God’s Thumb – and I regret it. Every time somebody posts a picture of this jaw-dropping place I feel intense, burning jealousy. So don’t make the same mistake as me, and make sure to make time for God’s Thumb. It will save you a lot of negative feelings down the road 😉
The very last beach on our itinerary goes to one of Oregon’s most famous: Cannon Beach. When a cannon was found near arch cape in 1846, locals started calling the area “Cannon Beach.” The name was made official in 1922, and has been driving tourists to it ever since!
Pro tip: It is definitely worth the wait to eat clam chowder at the Mo’s on the beach when vising Cannon beach. The restaurant has top to bottom windows so you can enjoy the view of the ocean while eating some fresh and delicious sea food!
Multnomah Falls: 2.4 miles out & back
Can you go to Oregon and not go to Multnomah Falls? It’s arguably the most famous waterfall in Oregon, and for good reason.
Hike the easy, two mile loop trail at Trillium Lake to get beautiful views of Mount Hood. If you have some extra time to hike, check out this blog post on Mount Hood’s 15 Best Day Hikes.
Tamolitch Falls (Blue pool): 3.6 miles out & back
One of our very favorites from our road trip to Oregon! Tamolitch Falls, nicknamed “blue pool”, is a beautiful pool nestled in the Willamette national forest. The pool is the most startling, unedited blue that you have ever seen. This sharp turquoise is caused by an underground lava field, which the water seeps through before entering the pool.
I’ll answer before you even ask. Yes, you can swim in blue pool. Whether or not you will want to is another question. Why? Because it is COLD. The water hovers around 37 degrees year round, and it will take your breath away. I did not do adequate research before jumping into the pool, and I’ll tell you, it was a rude awakening. However, if you were interested in getting a picture of you in the pool with no one else in the frame, you have good chances! Most people aren’t interested in swimming here, so you just might get that perfect shot.
Terwilliger and Umpqua Hot Springs: each .8 miles out & back
Just imagine how good a soak will feel after all of that hiking that you have been doing! Do be aware that clothing is optional at both locations, and be sure to look up the trails on Alltrails and read the comments as there are sometimes road closures that can make directions confusing.
Toketee Falls: .9 miles out & back
This waterfall is absolutely gorgeous. Surrounded by lush greenery and featuring “kool-aid blue water” (as my husband and I like to call it) it’s very easy to feel like you’re in a tropical paradise. The trail to Toketee falls is very well worn, and you can essentially just walk to the look out point. While beautiful, it is definitely worth venturing on to get to the bottom of the waterfall.
Do be aware that the hike down to the falls is not beginner friendly. You will be scrambling down rocks at nearly a vertical decline at times. There are ropes that have been secured in place to help, but you will definitely need to be sure footed. That being said, I do think that it is definitely worth the extra work for the view from the bottom, which is mind-blowing.
You can also swim if you would like, but beware that the water is, you guessed it, very cold. When we went we even saw some people cliff jumping off of the TOP of the waterfall into the water below! I obviously wouldn’t advise this, as I’m sure they were very experienced cliff jumpers, but it was very cool to watch.
Watson Falls: 1 mile out & back
Just a short drive away from the Toketee Falls trailhead is the gorgeous Watson falls. This trail is more difficult than Toketee falls, but nothing to be scared of. You can stand at the bottom of the waterfall, like I am in this picture, or you can keep hiking to get to the top.
Concluding the most epic road trip to Oregon of all time…
Whether you are just daydreaming of going to Oregon some day, or you are using this guide on your very own road trip to Oregon right now, I hope that you enjoyed this itinerary! I can not recommend an Oregon road trip highly enough, and if you’re on the fence about whether or not you should go, let me make it a little easier:
Do it. Definitely do it. And take me with you!
Happy travels! 🙂