Post Summary: The Ultimate Oregon Road Trip Itinerary According To A PNW Local
Oregon. That magical spot in the corner of the United States where roaring waterfalls, epic coastlines, and mysteries in the forest all thrive next to each other.
It’s an incredible place that requires the guidance of PNW experts (that’s us!) to divulge all the best stops in the state. We’ve been exploring Oregon for years, so you can count on us to provide well-rounded tips to give you the best experience!
In this post, we’re sharing the most epic Oregon road trip route, including our favorite stops and custom trips of 2-weeks, 10-days, and 1-week to cater to your specific needs. Scroll all the way to the bottom to find a free Oregon road trip itinerary download, too!
Okay, enough talking, let’s get exploring!
The Ultimate Oregon Road Trip Itinerary (Exactly Where To Find The Best Spots!)
First Of All, Where Is Oregon?
Oregon is located in a region called the Pacific Northwest, which is located in the northwest corner of the contiguous United States.
Fixed between its northern neighbor, Washington, and its southern neighbor, Northern California, Oregon is a unique mix of giant redwood trees, raging waterfalls, high desert, and beautiful coastal wilderness.
It’s got a little bit of everything, which is why taking an Oregon road trip will probably be the most incredible thing you will do this year!
Here’s a little bit about Oregon to start…
Oregon is broken down into seven distinct regions, each with its own unique spin on Oregon culture and iconic destinations. Here’s a breakdown of what you might expect from each:
- The Oregon Coast: 363 miles of accessible beaches, historic lighthouses, sea stacks, and gorgeous little Oregon beach towns.
- Central Oregon: A High Desert escape including popular spots like Sisters, Bend, and Smith Rock State Park.
- Eastern Oregon: Lonely vast desert with incredible geological features scattered across the area. Known for the Alvord Desert, Pendleton, and the Painted Hills.
- Portland Region: The urban center for creatives, makers, and foodies. Known for its epic food culture, bridges, and accessibility to nature.
- Mt. Hood & The Columbia River Gorge: Home to the highest mountain in Oregon (Mt Hood), and some of the most famous Oregon waterfalls like Multnomah Falls.
- Southern Oregon: Home to Crater Lake National Park, this region also boasts adventurous caves, gorgeous forests, and hidden hot springs (Umpqua Hot Springs).
- The Willamette Valley: Known for its amazing wine, tulips, and orchards, this farming community is a hub for a perfect weekend getaway.
Great…So Where Do I Start My Oregon Road Trip?
The easiest place to start your Oregon road trip is in Portland. This is the biggest city, where you will find the most options for car rentals, flights into the state (Portland International Airport – PDX), and stores to pick up any last-minute supplies.
Our Oregon road trip itinerary has you starting in Portland and heading east, but you can always fit the route to suit your own needs and desires! Keep scrolling to see all the stops so you can make your decision.
How Do I Get Around On My Oregon Road Trip?
The easiest way to get around on an Oregon trip is to drive in a car. It’s unreasonable to believe that you can fly from place to place. The biggest major airport is in Portland (PDX) and the rest are smaller local airports.
It’s easiest to get around Oregon in a car, and we highly suggest this mode of transportation! If you are hoping to do some camping along the way, we recommend checking out the company Outdoorsy to rent a campervan. It’s like having your transportation AND accommodations all in one place.
Outdoorsy does local recreational vehicle rentals (kind of like Airbnb but for cars!) so you can travel around Oregon in style with a cool vintage VW bus or cute teardrop trailer!
Where Do I Stay During My Oregon Road Trip?
The good thing about Oregon road trips is that they are completely customizable! You can stay at some of the coolest lodges and hotels in Oregon, explore backcountry roads for camping, or do a little mix of both!
Finding Epic Campsites in Oregon: There are so many amazing campsites in Oregon that the topic requires its own blog post! However, one of our most coveted tools for finding the best camping spots is through The Dyrt. The Dyrt is a campground finding app, and one of the best ones we’ve used! It’s got great reviews with photos, offline maps, road trip routing tools, and more! Our readers get to try it free for 30-days by using our code Mandagies!
Our favorite lodges & resorts in Oregon: Some amazing accommodations stand out among the others, and we think that some of these places deserve their own recognition! Here are some of our favorite lodges in Oregon that we recommend checking out!
FivePine Lodge – Sisters, OR (Central)
Bay Point Landing – Coos Bay, OR (Southern Coast)
Headlands Lodge – Pacific City, OR (Northern Coast)
The Independence Hotel – Willamette Valley (Northwest/Central ORegon)
The Mega Oregon Road Trip Itinerary (All The Best Stop In Oregon)
This two week Oregon road trip will bring you to all the best spots!
Stop 1: Portland, Oregon
Before departing the city, spend some time visiting Portland’s coolest locations! Some of the most popular outdoor places to visit in the city include the Portland Rose Garden, Washington Park, the Pittock Mansion (with its view of the city!), and Forest Park.
Grab a bite to eat at one of the several food truck communities around town. Click here to locate all the food truck pods around Portland!
From here, make sure to stock up with snacks at your favorite grocery store, fill up with gas, and hit the road!
Stop 2: Columbia River Gorge Scenic Byway
Begin your Oregon road trip in Portland and head to Interstate 84 East to start your Columbia River Gorge Scenic Drive. This is a great start to any Oregon road trip itinerary for its iconic stops like Multnomah Falls, Latourell Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls.
To spend more time checking out cool waterfalls in Oregon, consider taking the Historic Columbia River Highway (that parallels I-84), which provides easy access to many of them. Don’t forget to drive a little farther than Hood River to check out Rowena Crest, that famous hairpin road!
Note: The Eagle Creek Fire of 2017 devastated much of this area, and hikes/waterfall trails are slowly opening after restoration efforts. Click here to be updated on real-time trail openings in the Columbia River Gorge.
Extra Stops Between Portland and Hood River:
- Vista House – A museum, observatory, and rest stop
- Bridge of the Gods – Many of the Pacific Crest Trail Hikers cross here!
- Beacon Rock State Park (on the Washington side)
- More than 25 Columbia River Gorge waterfalls to see!
Stop 3: Hood River, Oregon
Hood River, Oregon is the perfect place to stay after a day of planning fun things to do in the Columbia River Gorge! Placed conveniently on the river’s edge, there is easy access to Mount Hood directly south, water activities like windsurfing, and Washington waterfalls right across the river in the Gifford-Pinchot National Forest to the north.
If you want a little more adventure, consider crossing the toll bridge ($2) to Washington and venturing on nearby trails to Falls Creek Falls, Panther Creek Falls, or Lower Lewis Falls.
Cool Places To Stay in Hood River, Oregon
Modern Townhome in White Salmon, WA (just across the river)
MtAdamsView in Hood River (TONS of gorge and mountain views, sleeps 6)
Best Western Plus in Hood River (great value, free breakfast)
Stop 4: Mount Hood
Route your Oregon road trip from the river’s edge to the mountains, more specifically to all the cool things to do in Mount Hood!
Watch a sunrise at Trillium Lake – one of the easiest lakes to reach on Mount Hood. On a clear day, you will be able to see the reflection of the picturesque Mount Hood beautifully framed in the distance! Other Mount Hood lakes include Frog Lake, Lost Lake, and Mirror Lake – each with their own unique reflection of the mountain.
If you are interested in discovering some cool hiking trails around Mout Hood, consider Ramona Falls trail. This gorgeous horsetail falls is hidden deep in the forest, but the payoff is huge once you see it with your own eyes. Care for a short waterfall hike for your Portland day trip? Consider Tamanawas Falls, an easy 3.3-mile trail with a gorgeous view!
Want to challenge yourself? Here are some other longer hikes in the Mount Hood area.
- Tom Dick and Harry (9 miles out and back)
- Bald Mountain (6 miles out and back)
- McNeil Point Trail (9.6 miles out and back)
Stop 5: The Painted Hills
After stopping at Mount Hood (overnight or just for a day trip) take the 3.5-hour drive from Mount Hood to the Painted Hills to catch a gorgeous sunset in the Oregon desert.
The Painted Hills gets its name from the exposed layers of colorful soil that are revealed in the rolling hills of the John Day Fossil Beds. Make sure to stay on the boardwalks as you explore the Painted Hills. The hills are extremely fragile!
In the morning, return to the John Day Fossil Bed units and see the Painted Hills as the sun rises! This is a gorgeous time of day in the hills, and you’ll likely get it all to yourself in the early hours of the morning.
Stop 6: Smith Rock State Park
From the Painted Hills through the Ochoco National Forest, take the 1.5-hour drive to Smith Rock State Park. Smith Rock is a hub for climbers, but there are several other things to do here, including hiking, biking, and taking photos!
To stretch your legs on this Oregon road trip, take the short but *very* steep Misery Ridge Trail. This 0.68-mile trail climbs 600 feet giving even the most experienced hiker a run for their money! The views at the top are worth it though, especially during sunrise or sunset!
Stop 7: Bend, Oregon
The city of Bend is an excellent stop on any good Oregon road trip! It’s an outdoor-loving town that connects Western Oregon and Eastern Oregon, making it a great pit stop to pick up last-minute gear, groceries, and maybe even tune ups for your car.
For a little relaxation from the road, grab a beer in town at any of the iconic stops on the Bend Ale Trail. If you are visiting in the summertime, floating the Deschutes River is a popular activity on a hot day. Make sure to bring your PFDs, water sandals, and a garbage bag!
In the morning, grab breakfast in Bend at The Sparrow Bakery, (their ocean rolls are famous!), and some to-go coffee at Spoken Moto and make some fun stops around Bend on your way south. Lava Island Falls and Lava River Cave are both easy and accessible places to see along your Oregon road trip route going out of town.
More adventures near Bend, Oregon
- Hiking to Tumalo Falls (6.5 miles out-and-back)
- Go backpacking in the Three Sisters Wilderness
- Take a road trip detour on the Cascades Lake Highway
Read More: How to Spend 4 Days In Bend, Oregon
Oregon Road Trip Bonus Route – Eastern Oregon!
Psst…want to spend a lot more time in Eastern Oregon? Check out our Eastern Oregon Road Trip route right here!
From Bend, you have the option of extending your Oregon Road trip going east, or continue south and west towards the coast! Either option is great, it really just depends on how much time you have.
Stop 8: Oregon Waterfalls
The drive from Bend to Crater Lake National Park is pretty short, about 1.5 hours. This gives you plenty of time to make some fun stops along the way, most notably, to waterfalls in Oregon!
For longer Oregon waterfall hikes, make your way west on Highway 58 for a fun hike at Salt Creek Falls and Diamond Creek Falls. Continue your drive south and divert north on Highway 138 for a stop at Watson Falls before making your way to the Crater Lake North Entrance.
More Oregon Waterfalls Near The Area:
- Proxy Falls (Highway 242 – North of Bend)
- Chush Falls (Near Sisters, Oregon)
- Dillon Falls
- Benham Falls
Stop 9: Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake National Park is one of the most iconic stops on an Oregon road trip, and the ONLY national park stop in the state. Spend sunset capturing the iconic Wizard Island on Crater Lake, and top it off by spending the night at the historic Crater Lake Lodge.
In the morning, spend an entire day hiking around Crater Lake on Watchman Peak Trail, Cleetwood Cove Trail, or Cloudcap Overlook.
At Crater Lake, you can spend the morning driving the Rim Drive, which takes about 2 hours to go all the way around. Hike to Plaikni Falls in the afternoon and in the evening watch the sunset at Garfield Peak or Sinnott Memorial Observation Station.
Bonus Oregon Road Trip Stop: Oregon Hot Springs
Now, this is the part of your road trip route in Oregon where you can choose where you’d like to spend your time! You can opt to continue driving east to explore some of the famous Eastern Oregon hot springs.
If you decided to check out some hot springs in Oregon, we highly suggest booking an overnight stay (Summer Lakes Hot Springs and Crystal Crane have lodging available!) or bringing your camping gear to find some free camping nearby.
Here are some Oregon hot springs you should be checking out on this leg of your Oregon road trip itinerary:
- Crystal Crane Hot Springs – Hot spring pond and private soaking tubs
- Summer Lakes Hot Springs – Communal bathhouse
- Hart Mountain Hot Springs – Structured underground pool and open springs, both natural
- Have an extra day? Drive farther east and check out Alvord Hot Springs, and Willow Creek Hot Springs!
Stop 10: Umpqua National Forest
Another iconic destination on your Oregon road trip is an adventure in Umpqua National Forest. You’ve probably seen pictures of those cliffside hot springs pools, or the rushing waterfall flanked by towering basalt cliffs. Well, these places are Umpqua Hot Springs and Toketee Falls!
Both places are easy to reach, each with a short hike to the final destination. Come with a national forest pass to hang in your car’s rearview mirror. You can pick one up at the Diamond Lake Ranger Station nearby if you need one. See the difference between Pacific Northwest forest passes here to find the correct one.
Leave No Trace Notes: Umpqua Hot Springs is notorious for garbage. Please pack out your trash, and consider taking other garbage with you, too. Hiking to the base of Toketee Falls is prohibited, no matter how many pictures you see of people doing so. It is possible to get cited for climbing down to the bottom, so don’t risk it!
Stop 11: Southern Oregon Coast
Finally, the first ocean stop on your Oregon road trip!
The Southern Oregon Coast is arguably the most beautiful area of an Oregon road trip. If you love seaside cliffs, hidden coves, and gorgeous beaches, this is the place for you!
Spend some time exploring the 12 miles of protected coastline at Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor. This part of your road trip in Oregon will take an entire day, between stops, viewpoints, and even a hike to a place called Secret Beach.
Finally, end your day in Gold Beach for the evening. Here, you can find tons of amenities, hotels, and beach rentals for a quiet and relaxing evening. Make sure to stop at our favorite beach, Myers Creek Beach to enjoy a beautiful Oregon coast picnic to end the day!
Stop 12: Central Oregon Coast
Central Oregon is full of adventurous destinations and unique curiosities. If you like thrills, try renting an ATV to ride across the Oregon Dunes, stretching 40 miles across the coastline.
Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area is another great place to explore, with a giant sea cave and surfing opportunities!
In the evening, splurge to go glamping and one of Coos Bay’s coolest spots – Bay Point Landing! This luxury camping resort has plenty of pull-in sites for RVs and trailers. You can also rent a standalone cabin, airstream, or renovated RV of your own to enjoy upscale camping. The grounds have amenities like a pool, lounge room, upscale bathrooms, and a cute camp store.
Stop 13: Eugene, Oregon
If you wanted to go inland to explore the Cascade Mountains, this is the part of your Oregon road trip to make that decision! Drive away from the Oregon coast to go inland to Eugene, Oregon, and explore this upbeat college town.
But before leaving the coast, consider stopping by Heceta Head Lighthouse and Cape Perpetua for one last adventure by the water. The lighthouse can be seen up close with a short hike, which is incredible at sunrise and sunset!
Cape Perpetua is best explored during low tide, where you can access the many tide pools and curiosities that dot the shore. If you do come during high tide, don’t fret! You can see the waves push up through Thor’s Well for a dramatic display, and the Devil’s Churn to watch the waves crash around this small cove.
Stop 14: Willamette National Forest
Heading inland from Eugene, there are a ton of beautiful places to see in the Willamette National Forest. The first stop is Terwilliger Hot Springs (often called Cougar Hot Springs) for a lovely natural soak. Keep driving to choose a waterfall adventure – Proxy Falls, Sahalie and Koosah Falls, The Blue Pool, and Tamolitch Falls.
You’ll want to spend at least a full day in this area (or even go camping overnight!) because the trails here are packed with adventure! Keep driving on Highway 126 as it continues on Highway 22 north to Silver Falls State Park and Salem, Oregon to continue on your epic Oregon road trip.
Stop 15: Salem and The Willamette Valley
If you like good food, you’re going to love this stop on your Oregon road trip. The Willamette Valley is full of wineries, farms, and beautiful vineyards! There are lots of options to enjoy farm-to-table dinners, wine tastings, and all-day experiences. Consider staying nearby at the Independence Hotel.
For a little adventure, head to Silver Falls State Park where you can hike the Trail of Ten Falls. This Oregon hike is exactly what its name entails – ten beautiful falls in an 8.7-mile trail. Come enjoy this condensed version of many iconic Oregon waterfalls all in one place!
Stop 16: Northern Oregon Coast
Refueling in Salem, it’s time to get back to the coast! The final stops on your Oregon road trip include classic North Oregon Coast stops and beautiful Oregon beach towns, hikes, and plenty of dreamy overlooks.
Beginning in Cape Kiwanda, spend the day hiking up the sand dunes to watch the dory boats dock onshore and paragliders sail down to the beach. Make sure to stop and eat lunch at Pelican Brewing. They have incredible beer and pub food, with an outdoor patio overlooking Pacific City’s own Haystack Rock.
Continuing north to another iconic “Haystack Rock” (arguably the most popular one too) Cannon Beach is the best place to grab a coffee and take a walk along the beach. During low tide, you can get close to the rock and spot puffins in their natural habitat!
If you want a little more adventure in your day, drive up to Ecola State Park to hike Crescent Beach Trail, the trail to Indian Sands, or Tillamook Rock Lighthouse Viewpoint. These lush Oregon Coast hikes are sure to leave you breathless!
Stop 17: Finish Your Oregon Road Trip Back to Portland, Oregon
On your way back to Portland to finish your Oregon road trip, you can take the short way on Highway 26, or the long way through Astoria, Oregon, and heading back to the city on Highway 30.
The detour through Astoria won’t disappoint! Filled with great restaurants, antique and vintage shops, and lots of history, it’s a perfect final stop on the Oregon coast road trip section of your drive.
For outdoorsy activities, stop by Fort Steven’s State Park to check out the historic military installation, as well as the famous Peter Iredale shipwreck. For hiking, stay close to town and check out the Cathedral Tree Trail and the Astoria Column.
And you’ve done it! You’ve completed the coolest Oregon road trip to see all the best highlights, hikes, and iconic locations in the state.
Oregon Road Trip Itinerary Examples
Below, we’re sharing some Oregon road trip itinerary examples to help you customize it exactly to fit your needs. For even more resources, we created this road trip itinerary in Oregon to print out and take on your journey!
(We’re running some email maintenance – this download will be back soon!)
Two Week Oregon Road Trip
See the detailed breakdown of our two-week Oregon road trip itinerary above!
10 Day Oregon Road Trip
You can see a lot with 10 days in Oregon! This route is a compressed version of our two-week road trip, with just a little less time in each spot but plenty of stops for an epic and interesting route!
- Day 1: Portland to Hood River
- Day 2: Hood River to Bend, Oregon
- Day 3: Bend, Oregon to Crater Lake National Park
- Day 4: Crater Lake to Umpqua National Forest
- Day 5: Umpqua National Forest to Samuel H. Boardman
- Day 6: Samuel H. Boardman to Coos Bay
- Day 7: Coos Bay to Eugene, Oregon
- Day 8: Eugene, Oregon to Salem, Oregon
- Day 9: Salem, Oregon to Cannon Beach
- Day 10: Cannon Beach to Portland, Oregon
One Week Oregon Road Trip
One week for an Oregon road trip will introduce you to Oregon’s vast and diverse landscape! From Crater Lake to Bend, Coos Bay to Cannon Beach, this route will bring you to some of the best of Oregon photography locations.
- Day 1: Portland to Hood River
- Day 2: Hood River to Bend, Oregon
- Day 3: Bend, Oregon to Crater Lake National Park
- Day 4: Crater Lake to Samuel H. Boardman
- Day 5: Samuel H. Boardman to Coos Bay
- Day 6: Coos Bay to Cannon Beach
- Day 7: Cannon Beach to Portland, OR
5 Day Oregon Road Trip
With 5 days in Oregon, you can see the highlights! This quick trip averages about 3-4 hours of driving per day, and takes you through mountains, by waterfalls, and meets up with some of the most scenic views along the Oregon Coast.
- Day 1: Portland to Bend
- Day 2: Bend to Eugene
- Day 3: Eugene to Samuel H. Boardman
- Day 4: Samuel H. Boardman to Yachats
- Day 5: Yachats to Portland