Post Summary: Best Oregon Photography Spots & Where To Find Them
If someone were to ask us what the most beautiful places in Oregon were, we’d honestly have a hard time answering them! Between the jagged coastline, powerful waterfalls, and colorful deserts, each of these scenic places in Oregon holds a unique and magical spot in our hearts.
It’s nearly impossible to rank the best places to visit in Oregon, so instead, we’re sharing our favorites right here in a running list, so you can browse our favorites and decide which places to go on your next epic Oregon road trip.
Save this link somewhere, because we’re constantly updating this epic list of Oregon photo spots! This way, you always have an excuse to plan another trip to the Pacific Northwest. 🙂
But First, What’s In Our Oregon Photography Gear Bag?
Our travel photography gear is constantly changing to fit the scenery, landscape, and climate of the area!
Below, we’re sharing just a few travel photography accessories that we take when photographing these must see places in Oregon, but if you want to full list, check out our full travel photography gear list here.
For Oregon landscape photography, we do a lot of hiking. Secure gear is important, so we often stick with these Peak Design products below, to keep our cameras safe when we’re out on the trail.
We also like to stay organized on the road, when traveling between all these beautiful places in Oregon. A good organization system is key – the most important ones being cords, gear, and files.
This Lowepro wrap-up cord carrier has clear pockets so you can see everything in its place! The WANDRD bag comes with us on nearly every trip because it is versatile, and the back opens completely for easy camera access. Finally, we often bring at least 1 Lacie drive with us, to keep our files safe when we fill up our memory cards.
How To Get Around Oregon And Where To Stay In Oregon
Some of the best places to visit in Oregon are hours away from each other, making an Oregon road trip a bit of a logistic challenge to figure out!
We’ve got a few guides to share with you when planning out your photo spots in Oregon, and we’ll link them below:
- How To Find Free Camping Spots
- Campground Finding App – The Dyrt! Some of our favorite features are on their PRO membership, like offline browsing, BLM and national forest boundary maps, and a rad trip planner! Try their pro membership free for 90-days when using our code MANDAGIES90!
- All The Best Things To Do On The Oregon Coast (Road Trip Itinerary)
What about driving around Oregon? We think the best way to get around these cool places in Oregon is via car, but even better is a campervan! If you don’t have a campervan, don’t worry – use a service like Outdoorsy to rent one! It’s like Airbnb but for cars, and you can pick from so many things like a Vintage VW Westfalia, a modern sprinter van, or even a full RV!
Tips On Sustainable Oregon Travel + Stewardship Practices
Okay, before we share cool Oregon photo locations with you, we’ve got to address the proper treatment and conservation of Oregon.
- Practice Leave No Trace Principles
- Learn about the destinations you are visiting – their history, indigenous land names, and why they are special to their communities. Oregon Wild is a great place to start your research!
- Pack. Your. Trash. Out.
- Read up on current hiking conditions on Oregon hikes before you go.
- CURRENT: Practice a safe distance from others when outside, and bring a facemask & hand sanitizer, and come with Plan Bs if your first place is too crowded.
The 15 Best Oregon Photography Locations And EXACTLY Where To Find Them
The Columbia River Gorge
The Columbia River Gorge is a huge canyon in which the Columbia River flows through, which separates the borders of Oregon and Washington State. If you are short on time and only have maybe just a weekend trip from Portland, you could simply capture Columbia Gorge photography locations and feel like you’ve accomplished so much!
Because of its steep, tall cliffs, wide elevation range, and heavy annual rainfall (10-100 inches per year in various sections), this is an excellent place for waterfalls and dynamic Oregon landscape views.
Some of the most popular Oregon pictures in the Columbia River Gorge include Rowena Crest, Multnomah Falls, Munra Point, and The Oneonta Gorge Trail*.
*Note: Because of the Eagle Creek Fire in the fall of 2017 that burned nearly 50,000 acres, many of these places are still closed for trail reconstruction. Click here to stay updated on trail openings and when it’s safe to return.
Ecola State Park And Cannon Beach’s Haystack Rock
Ecola State Park is located just north of Cannon Beach and is an essential stop on any Oregon Coast road trip.
One of the most popular Oregon Coast photo spots is located within the park, at the Ecola Lookout Point. Here, you can see the iconic Haystack Rock, take pictures of Cannon Beach from a distance, and various other sea stacks scattered in the Pacific Ocean. Personally, we think this spot has some of the best views in Oregon!
If you want to get a closer view of Haystack Rock, return to Cannon Beach and walk along the vast beachfront. You can get pretty close during low tide, and even discover small tide pools at its base (but more on that below – keep scrolling!).
The Cannon Beach area is a dog-friendly Oregon coast spot! Come with your friendly pup so your whole family can enjoy this beautiful Oregon photography location together.
Smith Rock State Park
Smith Rock State Park is located just outside of Bend, Oregon, and is home to towering rock spires, miles of mountain biking trails, epic rock climbing locations, and tons of dog-friendly hiking trails.
Some of the best Oregon photography spots at Smith Rock State Park are located close to one another!
One of the best photography locations is right off the main parking lot, with a full view of the rocks with the Crooked River winding around them in the foreground. Afterward, hike Misery Ridge Trail (an extremely steep but short trail to the top of these rock spires) for stunning views of the surrounding area. From the top, you also get a full view of Monkey Face Rock, a stunning formation and popular rock climbing route for advanced climbers.
Oregon Photography Tip: Come during Golden Hour (the period of time shortly after sunrise and right before sunset) to catch the sun shining behind the towering pillars of Smith Rock. It’s truly a sight to see – and Bend Oregon photography enthusiasts rave about it, too!
Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Area
Ever wondered where these incredible sea stacks and natural bridges are located on the Oregon Coast? Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor hosts most of these gorgeous viewpoints, and they are in abundance, too! This is an amazing pit stop on a Pacific Coast Highway road trip, just before you enter California!
Some of the best Oregon Coast photography locations at Samuel H. Boardman can be found at Secret Beach, Natural Bridges Area, and Cape Ferrelo. It’s important to note that many of these Oregon Coast hiking trails are at-your-own-risk and bring you uncomfortably close to the edges of cliffs. Only attempt what you’re comfortable doing – risking your life is NOT worth any “get the shot” moment!
Oregon Photography Tip: There are a lot of ways to capture the beauty of Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor, especially the crashing waves, glimmering rocks, and craggy coastlines. Consider using a variable neutral density (ND) filter to control harsh reflections of the water, especially during sunny days and during sunset.
Heceta Head Lighthouse
Heceta Head Lighthouse is located in the Central Oregon Coast, just south of Yachats, Oregon. Here, you can discover a seriously incredible coastline, with dramatic cliffs that jut straight into the ocean below! This is the perfect stop for you if you are taking a relaxing Oregon Coast vacation because you can actually stay overnight at the Innkeeper’s house!
One of these stunning views can be found at the Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint. Park your car in the parking lot and make the quick trek up the trail to stand at the foot of the lighthouse. It’s also a good idea to pack some snacks, because the tables by the water are some of the best Oregon coast picnic areas to enjoy.
For more perspectives and Oregon photo opportunities, don’t forget to snap a photo and Cape Creek Bridge, The Hobbit Trail nearby, and stop at the lighthouse vantage point just south of the parking lot.
For a more in-depth visit to Heceta Head Lighthouse, stay overnight at the Innkeepers Bed & Breakfast, where you have access to the lighthouse at night (it’s encouraged to visit!), and hear creepy ghost stories from past visitors.
Face Rock Scenic Viewpoint (Bandon and Coos Bay)
Face Rock Scenic Viewpoint is located in Bandon, Oregon, just south of the town of Coos Bay on the Oregon Coast.
This particular beach is scattered with several incredible rock formations, many sprinkled along the shore’s edge. Some of the most well-known sea stacks are Face Rock, Wizard’s Hat, Cat and Kittens Rock, and the Keyhole Arch. We think this beach hosts some of the best Central Oregon Coast attractions!
Come during low tide AND again at sunset for full-access to these sea stacks, and a chance to see pastel skies in the background of your Oregon photos.
For a more architectural approach to this area, consider staying overnight at Bay Point Landing. This new modern/luxury camping resort sits right on the coast of Coos Bay, with a perfect blend of sharp modern lines against the soft features of the Oregon Coast.
Nearby, you can also check out the triple-state park area – Shore Acres State Park, Sunset Bay State Park, and Cape Arago State Park!
Haystack Rock on Cannon Beach
Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach is probably the most iconic and popular Oregon photography location in the entire state! This is probably from a perfect mix of easy access and proximity to big cities like Portland, but also maybe because it’s just simply stunning!
Like many photography locations on the Oregon Coast, Haystack Rock looks incredible during sunset. Come take a walk on the beach and capture it in all its different forms. During low tide, you can get up close to explore the tide pools at its base, and in the summertime (May through the beginning of September) you may be able to spot a famous Tufted Puffin living on the rock!
Cape Kiwanda on the Oregon Coast
Cape Kiwanda is one of the three capes on Oregon’s Three Capes Scenic Route. The others include Cape Meares and Cape Lookout, however, Cape Kiwanda is by the far the most popular and easily accessible beach for some Oregon coast pictures.
Similar to Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, Cape Kiwanda has its own version of Haystack Rock. What makes this beach different, however, is the vehicle access along the shore! You can drive your car on the beach, set up a picnic, and stay awhile to enjoy this beautiful part of the Oregon Coast.
The sea stack just offshore is the biggest Oregon photography draw, but you can also explore the fragile sandstone cliffs (carefully!) to the north or explore the breweries and restaurants in Pacific City.
Climbing the dune over to McPhillips Beach gives you access to some pretty cool arched rocks and sandstone cliffs on the ocean’s edge. Just be careful and visit during low-tide (save these Pacific City tide charts), because you could get trapped if you aren’t aware of your surroundings! To reach here, you have to get really close to the water’s edge, and find the boulder pile between the sandstone cliffs to climb over and get a closer look.
Oregon Photography Tip: Since beach bonfires are allowed on this beach, try taking some blue hour shots for gorgeous Oregon scenery. Make sure to choose a lens that has a low aperture (like this 50mm f/1.2) to capture crisp detail in those low-light situations.
Mount Hood is a vast territory, known for the famous Timberline Lodge and several lakes and waterfalls to explore nearby. In the wintertime, this is a snowy ski resort, and in the summertime, the same area provides beautiful Oregon hiking trails!
One of the most common ways to photograph Mount Hood is using lakes as a reflection to capture Mount Hood on a clear morning. The best Oregon photography locations for this are at Trillium Lake, Mirror Lake, and Lost Lake.
Cape Perpetua is the ultimate spot for Oregon Coast photography for its stunning features like deep tide pools, spouting water, and secret coves.
Take the super-easy trail along the coast to connect most of the features of Cape Perpetua. Start at the Devil’s Churn during high tide to watch it throw waves back and forth in a tight space. Wander over to Thor’s Well to watch the waves shoot up through an old lava tube, and see the Spouting Horn throw water into the air.
To finish off your time in Cape Perpetua, take the short drive (or hike) up to the top of Cape Perpetua Lookout to photograph the sunset and Highway 101 that winds around the cliffside at the edge of the ocean.
This is an incredible option for Oregon photography for the vast number of amazing features in close proximity to one another. Stay in the nearby town of Yachats for easy access to this area.
Oregon Photography Tip: The Cape Perpetua Lookout is a popular hidden gem in Oregon with the highway winding around the steep cliffs on the edge of the ocean! Come here for sunrise or sunset to catch the colors in the sky, or sit for a while and capture a long-exposure of cars going by.
Oregon’s Historic Covered Bridges
There are at least 50 historic covered bridges in Oregon, which means this area has the highest concentration of them in the West! While they aren’t widely used now, they hold a lot of history in their stories, architecture, and significance to the local communities.
For a fun way to capture these historic Oregon photography locations, you can opt to take the Covered Bridges Scenic Bikeway, which is an all-day ride (36-miles total) to connect up to six different bridges!
Some of the most popular Oregon Covered Bridges:
- Office Bridge
- Wild Cat Bridge
- Chambers Bridge
- Dorena Covered Bridge
- Lowell Covered Bridge
Oregon Photography Tip: Oftentimes, these Oregon covered bridges require you to be close to snap a picture. Equip yourself with a wide lens, like this 16-35mm, to capture wide frames at a close distance!
McKenzie River Corridor (Highway 126)
The McKenzie River Corridor is a long stretch of Highway 126 east of Eugene, Oregon that follows the McKenzie River up into the Cascade Mountains. Along the route are some of the most incredible waterfalls in Oregon, amazing hot springs, and several hiking trails and campsites.
Make sure to stop by Sahalie and Koosah Falls, an easy loop to see two incredible falls in one stop! If you’re looking for a magical forest soak, stop by the Terwilliger Hot Springs (also called Cougar Hot Springs) for just $6 per entry and Bigelow Hot Springs, which are both just conveniently off the highway!
Other amazing stops can be found at Proxy Falls and Tamolitch Falls (also called the Blue Pool)! This is an excellent spot for Oregon photography locations if you love hiking and nature! Make sure to equip yourself with the right gear for hiking in the Pacific Northwest to make the most of your time here.
Eastern Oregon Hot Springs
If hot springs are your jam, but crowds aren’t – keep driving to Eastern Oregon for a chance to get some pools all to yourself! Here, you can choose from commercial springs to natural ones, with a huge variety in size, shape, and surrounding landscape.
Personally, we think each kind of hot springs (natural and commercial) come with their own unique set of Oregon photography opportunities, all good! The barn at Summer Lake Hot Springs brings out lovely western vibes, while Hart Mountain Hot Springs, Willow Creek Hot Springs & Alvord Hot Springs brings a natural and relaxing ambiance. There is so much variety to explore in Eastern Oregon!
Oregon Photography Tip: While Oregon hot springs in the Eastern part of the state are less visited, there is always still a chance of others being there. Patience and respect are key when shooting in springs – keep a distance from others and honor their soaking experience as well. Both of you likely traveled far to get there.
Umpqua National Forest
The Umpqua National Forest is perfect for the Oregon photographer who wants to see all the US National Parks because this area is on the way to Crater Lake National Park!
Some of the most iconic spots to take photographers in the Umpqua National Forest include Toketee Falls and Umpqua Hot Springs, which are conveniently near one another.
If you’re looking to venture off from the main areas, consider checking out the majestic Watson Falls or Lemolo Falls just east of Toketee Falls.
Oregon Waterfall Photography Tip: If you are shooting water, consider investing in an ND filter. This way, you can control the lighting that comes in your camera, and are able to capture long exposures for those ethereal waterfall photos!
When you visit the Painted Hills in John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, layers and layers of history are being revealed to you within the colors and textures of this Eastern Oregon landscape!
One of the most popular places to shoot beautiful pictures of Oregon here would be the Painted Cove Trail. This Mars-red landscape with the boardwalk really does make it feel like you are on another planet. This place can allow you to capture one of the coolest photos of Oregon, but heads up – it’s VERY small. (We’re talking mayyybe 200 feet tops).
Perspective is everything, so keep your expectations in check and use those angles to fill your camera frame with those red hills!
Oakridge, Oregon (+ Surrounding Waterfalls)
Venture out to the Oakridge area as a day trip from Eugene to explore some Oregon waterfalls, like Salt Creek Falls! Not only is Salt Creek Falls the second tallest single-drop falls in Oregon (it drops 286 feet, while Multnomah Falls drops 620 feet!) but it also is near another really great waterfall in Oregon – Diamond Creek Falls.
Stop at this Oregon hiking trail for a two-for-one visit, and check off two places to see in Oregon in just one visit to the Willamette National Forest!
Are These All The Best Photo Spots In Oregon?
Absolutely not! We feel like we have just scratched the surface of places to explore, from Oregon hiking trails to majestic waterfalls. We’re constantly coming back for more, and these are the next spots on our list:
- Crater Lake National Park
- The Wallowas
- Alvord Desert
- Skylight Caves
- Silver Falls State Park
- Bend, Oregon
- Three Sisters Oregon
- Mount Thielsen
- Tom, Dick, and Harry Mountain
- Broken Top Mountain
- Bagby Hot Springs
(Keep coming back to this post, because we’re constantly updating it as we go on new adventures!)
Map of Oregon Photography Locations
As promised, here are the exact locations for these amazing Oregon photography spots covered in this blog post. We hope that when you visit these locations that you adhere to Leave No Trace principles, be responsible, stay safe, and be courteous of other visitors. And most importantly – have fun!