Oregon is home to natural wonders unique only to our evergreen state. As we continue to see COVID spikes across Oregon, a scenic road trip is the perfect opportunity for a safe, distanced, and refreshing getaway. Whether you have lived in Oregon your whole life or are new to the area, this is your official list of must-see sights and routes across the state!
From Tillamook to Pacific City, there truly is no better way to experience a coastal drive than on the back roads. Starting in Oceanside and moving up to Cape Lookout, you will be enthralled with views of the Pacific coast. The drive itself is stunning, but to make the most of this route, make a pit stop at each of the capes you pass:
- Cape Meares — visit the lighthouse and famous Sitka spruce called the Octopus Tree.
- Cape Lookout — a moderate hike off the road (5-miles) to the farthest view of the coastline! When the weather is clear, you are in for an awe-striking view.
- Cape Kiwanda — famous for Haystack Rock and astounding tide pools.
40.9 mile loop
Late summer is the best time to drive the 66 miles through the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway— as the heat begins to pass and before the first snowfall. The drive begins in Bend and quickly climbs towards Mt. Bachelor. The route passes through diverse terrain of lava rock, ponderosa pine forests, the damp meadow of Sparks Lake, and the Deschutes rapids.
A fresh perspective of the Cascades! The route begins in Westfir and travels north through 200-years of preserved forest growth and up to the McKenzie River. The McKenzie is dynamic — gentle stretches, rampant rapids, hot-spring-fed swimming holes, crystal clear Blue Pool, and a colossal waterfall. After a few hours in the car, Belknap Hot Springs may be the perfect pit stop. The route continues along the Detroit River, the Clackamas-Breitenbush National Forest, and concludes in Estacada.
The entire byway stretches 500-miles, but the 140-mile portion from the Diamond Lake Junction of US-97 to Crater Lake National Park. The route winds through eons of natural history, lasting evidence of volcanic eruptions and concludes at Oregon’s deepest lake.
500 miles total; 140 mile Oregon route
The John Day Fossil Beds National Monument
Comprised of three magnificent locations — Sheep Rock, the Painted Hills, and Clarno — triangulated around the historic fossil beds of Eastern Oregon. Sheep Rock is the first stop, where 50 million-year-old fossils have been uncovered. It’s incredible to believe these creatures roamed our state until you’ve stepped foot on Sheep Rock. The green and tan layered sediments seemingly transport you back in time. The Clarno Unit consists of three short trails, with naturally exposed fossils. Finally, the Painted Hills
Take this opportunity to refresh and renew your appreciation for Oregon’s dynamic — and even daunting — natural landscape. Volcanoes, ancient forests, mountains, high elevation deserts, lakes, and rampant rivers, all in a day’s trip from the city! If you head out on one of these adventures, reach out and share your end-of-summer adventure with me on Instagram at @modernhomesportland!