From Portland to Crater Lake: Oregon in 6 Days

Hi everyone. I’m back. I’m sorry it’s been such a hiatus. The best excuse I can come up with is that I’ve been working on my novel, but it’s also because I haven’t travelled as much recently. I did, however, go to Oregon with my mom for Labor Day. It was an amazing trip and I want to tell you all about it.

I’ve been wanting to return to the West Coast for some time. I love it. The vibe there is so different, in a welcoming and comfortable way. East Coast is cool too, don’t get me wrong, but there is something about the West Coast that ensnares my heart and imagination.

The choice was between Portland and Seattle; once we chose Portland as our destination we had to figure out what we were going to do there. Six days. Do we stay in Portland? Do we travel around Oregon? Where do we go? What do we eat? Can Harvey come too?

I left Harvey at home, sadly. However, Oregon is extremely dog-friendly so next time Harvey will go too. I didn’t know I have so many friends who’ve been to Oregon and more that live/lived there, which was lucky for me because I received a ton of fabulous recommendations. It’s because of those awesome people that we had such an amazing time. Ok, I’ll stop rambling and get right into it!

Portland

Aug 30: We arrive!

Our first day was very low key, just getting acquainted with the area. We wandered about without much of an agenda.

August 31: Hiking Adventures

Our second day was a day trip! The destination was Multnomah Falls (about 33 mins East of Portland). We received a recommendation to add two points of interest to our trip: Vista House at Crown Point (an easy stop on the way to the falls) and Bridge of the Gods (about 13 minutes East of the falls). Both places are worth it!

Vista House was my favourite. It’s perched on a hill with a gorgeous view of the Columbia River Gorge.

Unfortunately, the hike to the top of the falls was closed for safety reason stemming from the forest fires, which also resulted in Historic US 30 being closed between Bridal Veil and Ainsworth State Park. We could only hike as far as the pedestrian bridge for photos.

The Bridge of the Gods, a toll-bridge spanning the Columbia river and connecting Oregon to Washington, is a fun little detour. We just drove there for some photos then headed back.

Bridge of the Gods

Bridge of the Gods

Directions:

From Portland head on 84E. On the way, take exit 22 for Corbett to Vista House. The short, 8 minute drive, detour is a camera worthy stop. It’s a gorgeous scenic stop overlooking the River Hood. Entry to the Vista House at Crown Point is free and you can go onto the balcony for better shots. There’s not much else to do besides take some photos and head on your way. The time spent here depends on how photography-focused your group is.

Exit 31 is the most direct way to Multnomah Falls. However, the exit is the parking lot and once it fills up, they close the exit. If that happens, like it did to us, head to exit 25 and take the shuttle from Rooster Rock State Park back to the falls.

Bridge of the Gods is about 13 minutes farther east on 84E.

Where we ate:

  • Aviv – vegan lunch
  • Pok Pok – Vietnamese. Try the drinking vinegars and green papaya salad. I can say that I am absolutely in love with Vietnamese food thanks to this trip. I may need to go to Vietnam next 🙂
  • Salt & Straw – ice cream
  • Bamboo Sushi – amazing sushi
  • Luc Luc – Vietnamese.

Where we stayed:

  • For our first two nights in Oregon we stayed in an AirBnb in the Pearl District (the listing has since been deactivated). The location was fantastic! It was right off NW Lovejoy Street and a 5 minute walk to Pok Pok, where we ordered dinner from our first night.
  • Our last night in Oregon, before our flight home, we stayed at The Paramount Hotel. I highly recommend this hotel for its location.

September 1: Astoria

Astoria is a cute little port city about 2 hours Northwest of Portland. On the way into Astoria we hit some traffic. One lane in and one lane out. While crawling along, eager to make it to our hotel to start exploring, we heard the barking of sea lions. Wild sea lions just hanging out on the docks. It was one of the coolest things I’ve seen.

The place is best known as the primary filming location of the 1985 movie, The Goonies. I had never seen the movie until after our trip to Oregon, but we went to as many filming locations as we could. Unfortunately, the two homes from the film are on a private drive and there is a sign that says they will call the police on people so don’t waste your time (like we did) trying to find it. Instead, take a pic outside the jailhouse and call it a day.

Jail house from The Goonies Opening Scene

Jail house from The Goonies Opening Scene

Astoria is small (it honestly felt like a town, but I guess it’s officially a city). We wanted to do some hiking so we crossed the bridge to Washington State and hiked at Cape Disappointment (great name!) which was really beautiful.

Then, when we returned to Astoria, we walked the Astoria Riverwalk and explored the city a bit.

Where we ate:

  • Fort George Brewery – We split a pizza and salad. I cannot recommend this place enough! The food was delicious and there’s a great view from the rooftop seating area.
  • Frite & Scoop – Ice cream
  • Baked Alaska – It was ok, but I wouldn’t go back. My mom didn’t like her food.
    • Tip: Make a reservation for dinner. We didn’t and most everywhere was booked with a waiting list. 

Where we stayed:

  • Astoria Riverwalk Inn – Basic accommodation with continental breakfast. The location was good. Right next to the trolley stop, or an easy walk into the city centre.

Directions from Portland:

We left Portland in the morning taking the I-5 N then US-30 W, which took us through a bit of southern Washington…and by Twilight filming locations.

Side note: I have a love-hate relationship with the Twilight movies. I love how bad they are. I hate the writing of the books, but really enjoyed how the films fractionally redeemed them. I love Robert Pattinson. I love vampires. I love watching them when I’m in a bad mood so I can watch Edward walk in slow-mo and give that self-conscious devilish smirk that made all the girls scream during the premiere in the cinema. I say all this because as we are driving I see out the window: “Filming location for Twilight.” Immediately, I get on my phone and start googling like a mad woman. I wish I had known this before we made our drive because I am 95% sure my mom would have indulged me, but we zoomed by it so fast and I didn’t want us to backtrack. Alas. Another time. So if you’re a Twilight fan and going to Portland, that’s an option.

Dang. I spent a lot of time talking about something I didn’t even get to do.

September 2: Cannon Beach

I loved Cannon Beach. Honestly, I wish we had spent two nights there. If you’re looking for gorgeous photos then this is the place for you.

Haystack Rock

I was obsessed with it: taking pictures of it, pictures in front of it, to the left of it, to the right, at dusk, at sunrise.

Ecola State Park

Get here early! The queue to enter the park took us at least an hour. Parking is limited, but it’s worth waiting the extra time to park at Indian Beach (the trail from Ecola Point to Indian Beach was closed when we went). Twilight fans will remember Indian Beach as La Push.

Where we ate:

  • Warren House Pub – cute pub lunch with outdoor seating.
  • Again we made the mistake of not making a reservation. The place we wanted to eat was The Driftwood, but the wait was at least an hour. We ended up someplace else and the food was just OK.

Where we stayed:

  • Tolovana Inn – We had an oceanfront suite with a small kitchenette. The location was great. No breakfast offered.

September 3: En Route to Crater Lake

From Cannon Beach our next stop was Crate Lake; however, we decided on a detour to see Thor’s Well, about 3 hours and 15 minutes south of Cannon Beach. Cape Perpetua is absolutely stunning! I’m so happy we did this detour; it was one of the trip’s highlights.

Since 101 runs through Tillamook, don’t miss the chance to stop at Tillamook Creamery.  It was the BEST ice cream of my entire life (I am a huge ice cream enthusiast).

Tillamook Creamery

Ice Cream from Tillamook Creamery

We arrived at low tide, which allowed us to walk around the tide pools. I had the chance to touch a starfish for the first time (it feels like a rock. I imagined starfish to be squishy). Thor’s Well, the way I wanted to see it, is best viewed at high tide. But it’s still amazing to see at low tide. I stood watching the waves roll in and crash inside the cave and splash out from the well’s opening.

It was an additional 3 hours and 30 minutes drive to our hotel near Crater Lake. By the time we made it to Crater Lake the sun was about to set. We drove over to take a few photos then relax for the night. There’s not much in Chemult.

Crater Lake

Crater Lake at dusk

It’s fabulous at sunset, but holy cow are the roads narrow with tight turns and no guard rails. I was freaking out in the passenger seat.

Directions:

Drive South on Highway 101 through Tillamook to Yachats. Park at the Cape Perpetua Visitor Centre for an easy hike to Thor’s Well and the Tide Pools.

Continue South on Highway 101 to Florence, take Highway 126 E to Eugene, and then 58 to Chemult.

Where we stayed:

September 4: Hiking Crater Lake then Portland Bound

We woke up early for hiking to see as much of Crater Lake as possible. The lake, about 6 miles in diameter, has the most brilliant blue water. At a depth of 1,943 feet, Crater Lake is the deepest Lake in the USA, and the 9th deepest lake in the world. The crater is a remnant of Mount Mazama, a volcano that erupted about 7,700 years ago.

We drove the 33 mile loop around the lake, parking at different scenic points for short hikes or photo ops. On our hike up to the overlook from the forest ranger’s post, we met a woman who was hiking the Pacific Crest Trail; she started in Canada and was hiking all the way to Mexico!

After our hiking excursion we drove back to Portland. Phew! It was a whirlwind vacation with a lot of activities and moving about, but it was incredible. I’m glad we rented a car and explored more than Portland (even though I didn’t feel we did Portland justice).

Overall:

Favourite Part:

I honestly cannot choose between Cannon Beach, Thor’s Well, and hiking at Crater Lake. They were all visually stunning.

Least Favourite:

Astoria (sorry). Because of the time crunch we could have omitted it.


Thanks for checking out my blog! While I loved our time in Oregon, if I had to plan this same trip over again I would tweak our itinerary a bit. If you’re planning a trip to Oregon leave a comment below and let me know what you’re going to do.

Until the next adventure,

Jenn

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