Looking for the perfect road trip through the Pacific Northwest? Oregon is home to some of the most beautiful scenery on the entire west coast. From unique beaches and volcanoes to lush green forests and sand dunes, Oregon is one of the most geologically diverse states in the United States. With so many amazing spots to explore, let's get into the itinerary!
Night #1 - Depoe Bay, OR
The first stop of the trip will be Depoe Bay, a little town on the Oregon Coast that is great for whale watching. I arrived to Depoe Bay later at night so I wasn't able to see any whales, but I did get to enjoy the best cup of clam chowder ever at Gracie's Sea Hag. After getting a taste of the local cuisine I headed to my hotel for the night, The Channel House, to get some rest.
Stop #1 - Devil's Punchbowl
After a good night's rest at the Channel House, our first morning of the trip will be spent at Devil's Punchbowl State Natural Area! This spot is great for sunrise as it offers panoramic views of the Pacific. The Punchbowl itself is a hollow rock formation that sits below the overlook and at low tide you can actually go inside and check out the tide pools and sea creatures. I arrived at high tide so I didn't get to go inside the Punchbowl but the trail to get down should be just a block north of where you park at the site. Arriving before sunrise I ended up having the entire place to myself except for some very nice locals that were on their morning walk. After watching the sun come up, I found a set of stairs right along the road I came in on that took me down to a small beach. It was a great little spot to hang out for a bit and watch the local surfers catch some waves.
Stop #2 - Thor's Well
After checking out Devil's Punchbowl, grabbing some coffee and watching for whales in Depoe Bay one last time, it's time to head south! Our next stop of the trip will be at the famous Thor's Well - one of my absolute favorite spots for landscape photography on the Oregon coast. If you are a photographer this spot is a must see. Timing is everything when visiting Thor's Well. The site is most spectacular at high tide, or during storms when water washes violently over the rocks and funnels into the hole. Watching the water fall into the hole over the rocks is absolutely mesmerizing and makes for some amazing photos. Keep in mind, getting and up close view of the well can be very dangerous. Always make sure to get an appropriate distance and never look directly into the hole.
Stop #3 - Bandon Beach
After stopping at Thor's Well, we will continue our journey south and conclude the day by watching the sunset at Bandon Beach! I had seen pictures of this place on the internet, but pictures do this spot no justice at all. It ended up being my favorite spot of the trip and I actually ended up getting a bucket list shot I had wanted for years. When arriving to Bandon Beach, there isn't really a designated parking lot for the beach itself. I ended up parking across the street and walking down a short boardwalk to the beach. Once down on the beach, you'll have an up close view of all the different sea stack rock formations. Luckily when I arrived it was low tide, allowing me to walk pretty far out onto the beach to some areas that would be covered with 1-2 ft of water during high tide. When visiting, make sure to plan around the tide. The beach is beautiful during all times of the day but sunrise and sunset are the best times for visiting.
Night #2 - Port Orford, OR
After a long day of driving and visiting some amazing places, it's time to relax! My second night of the trip was spent at an amazing Airbnb in Port Orford, a very small fishing town on the southern coast of Oregon. The Airbnb itself completely exceeded our expectations. The unit offered panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, a private balcony, and a private deck overlook area. The unit itself was spacious, had an amazing bed, fancy bathroom, and was everything we needed and more! I'll link the Airbnb here.
Stop #4 - Samuel H Boardman Scenic Corridor / Natural Bridge
A must see spot on the Oregon coast is Samuel H Boardman Scenic Corridor - a stretch of coastline that has some amazing hiking trails, beaches, viewpoints and natural beauties, including Natural Bridges and Arch Rock. Our first stop will be the Natural Bridges viewpoint and hike. Let me start by saying this hike is not for the faint hearted. If you are scared of heights, this may not be the hike for you. The parking lot for the Natural Bridges is on the west side of the road just a few miles south of Arch Rock picnic area. Find it on Google Maps here. Once in the parking lot, you have 3 options: You can simply go to the viewing deck which will give you a full view of the Natural Bridges, or you can take one of the hiking paths down to get a better view. Again, these hikes include sheer drop offs and are very steep so make sure to be careful and wear sturdy hiking shoes with good grip. The best way to get down to the Natural Bridge is the path to the RIGHT of the parking lot. Follow it down through the forest keeping left when possible. This will bring you to a very narrow path that goes down to the bridge. Definitely recommend grabbing some photos down here, it's absolutely breathtaking. Your other option is accessing the bridge for the other side, which you can get to by taking the trail on the other side of the viewing deck. Follow this trail down through the forest keeping right when possible. Crossing the bridge itself can be extremely dangerous especially if the bridge is wet.
Stop #5 - Samuel H Boardman Scenic Corridor / Secret Beach
Only a mile away from the Natural Bridges parking lot is one of the most iconic beaches on the Oregon coast, Secret Beach. This spot has become much more popular in recent years due to social media, but the hike is short and the views are spectacular. If you are a photographer you will want to visit Secret Beach at sunset for the best conditions. The parking lot for Secret Beach isn't really much of a parking lot at all. It has enough space for about 7-8 cars but if you go in the summer you may have difficulty finding a spot. Find the parking lot on Google Maps by clicking here. After your parked, take the trail to the right and follow that down to the beach. If you arrive at low-tide you can walk down onto the beach and explore the area a bit more. If you follow the beach as far as you can it will actually take you to a cave that sits under the Natural Bridge.
Night #3 - Port Orford, OR
After a long day of hiking on the coast, it's time to rest up for tomorrow which will consist of a good amount of driving. I stayed in Port Orford again on the third night just because it made the most sense. Next, we will be heading to Bend, OR which is about a 5 and half hour dive from Port Orford but not before we stop and check out some waterfalls to break up the drive!
Stop #6 - Sahalie & Koosah Falls
A trip to Oregon wouldn't be complete without checking out some epic waterfalls! There's so many amazing waterfalls to check out in Oregon but Sahalie Falls and Koosah Falls just so happened to be on the way to Bend so I had to stop and check them out. There's not much hiking required here but if you are wanting to see Koosah Falls, you'll have to hike about a half mile round trip. Once you park, Sahalie Falls is right next to the parking lot. There is a small overlook where you can check out the falls but as landscape photographer I had to get closer. After the overlook the fence ends and you can go around to get an up close view of the waterfall. I highly recommend bringing a rain coat or something to keep you dry because the mist from the waterfall had me soaked. Because of the mist it was hard to keep my camera and lens dry. I found myself having to keep wiping my lens off in between every single shot to prevent water spots. If you aren't taking pictures this is an awesome spot to just hang out for a bit and enjoy the falls. If you follow the same trail for about a quarter mile you will come to Koosah Falls, another absolutely epic waterfall that's a bit bigger than Sahalie Falls.
Night #4 - Bend, OR
After checking out Sahalie and Koosah Falls I continued my drive to Bend where I stayed the next two nights. I stayed at the Tetherow Hotel which is a bit outside of downtown Bend. It was a bit of a nicer hotel but considering the amenities and views from the room it wasn't too bad.
Stop #7 - Umpqua Hot Springs
Last but not least is the magical Umpqua Hot Springs. This spot was quite a bit of a drive from Bend, but after seeing pictures on Instagram I had to make the drive to check it out. I decided to visit early on a Monday morning because if you know Oregon hot springs, you know the earlier you arrive the better. If you're planning on going on a weekend, plan for the springs to be very crowded. I left Bend at 6:30am and arrived to the hot springs trailhead at about 8:30am. The trail to the springs is about half mile uphill one way making the total hike approximately one mile roundtrip. It's a fairly easy hike with a bit of an incline but it's worth every second. Once you arrive there are 4-5 different pools with the top pool being the hottest with a temperature of 106 degrees Fahrenheit. If you get there early enough you should be able to enjoy the springs by yourself for a bit. Keep in mind these springs are clothing optional, so expect some nudity if you are visiting on a weekend. Throughout my travels through Oregon this was definitely one of the most relaxing and quaint spots that I visited. I would highly recommend visiting as early as possible for the best experience. It's also important to remember when hiking anywhere, always remember to pack out your trash. Umpqua Hot Springs has become a very popular place over the last couple of years and when we were there we did see some trash around the springs which was left from previous visitors. This behavior will ultimately lead to these amazing destinations eventually being closed for preservation. Let's all do our part and leave them cleaner than we found them so future generations can enjoy them as well.
With seven of the most amazing places in Oregon checked off the list, that is going to conclude our trip! There's so much diverse beauty in Oregon, we haven't even begun to scratch the surface of all the amazing places to see. I hope this helped you plan your next trip or weekend adventure, and I wish you nothing but safe adventures! Until the next blog everyone!