What to do in Oregon

Steve and I have been lucky enough to visit Oregon several times and explore some of the beautiful hiking trails and viewpoints throughout the state.  Oregon has some of the most beautiful waterfalls, gorgeous beach scenery, desert adventures, and wonderful mountain views in this country.  There are so many things I could write about, but I narrowed it down to 13 of my favorite things we’ve seen and done in Oregon.

mount hood-3
Mount Hood

1. Abiqua Falls – It was a very rough road to get to the parking lot of this waterfall.  We drove a high clearance, 4WD truck and it still felt like the car might be destroyed. It was a short hike on a rugged, steep, and slippery trail.  When we arrived, the waterfall was absolutely breathtaking as the late afternoon sun rays poured through the trees to light up a magical scene.


2. Wahclella Falls – This is an amazing waterfall located in the Columbia River Gorge.  It is a relatively easy 2.4 mile round trip hike in a beautiful, lush forest.  The waterfall itself is powerful and covers you in refreshing mist if you get too close!

3. Trillium Lake and Lost Lake – These are two great spots to view Mount Hood.  We camped at both of these lakes during our van trip and really enjoyed the stunning views.  Lost Lake was very crowded on a summer weekend.  If you go for a day trip, make sure to arrive early to claim one of the lakefront day use spots.  Trillium Lake was a bit more rustic and much more calm and peaceful.

Here is a photo of the Milky Way over Lost Lake taken by my talented husband Steve Walasavage.


4. Punch Bowl Falls – The 3.8 mile round trip hike to this waterfall is a stunning walk through an incredibly beautiful northwestern forest. When we went, it was drizzling and the hills were draped in thick fog.  There is an awesome view of the falls from above and then another after you climb down to the bottom. I really loved this hike!

5. Samuel H. Boardman State Park – This is a beautiful stretch of the rugged Oregon coast with stunning views and precarious hikes. I wrote more about Samuel H Boardman State Park in this blog post!

6. Toketee Falls – This was a very quick 0.8 mile round trip hike.  It leads to a viewing platform with an amazing view of the falls.  The waterfall is stunning and the basalt columns give it a really unique look!

7. Tamolitch Blue Pool – We woke up early to make the 2.1 mile hike to the Blue Pool (4.2 miles round trip).  The hike was easy and beautiful, weaving through lovely forest scenes and crossing perfect rivers.  When we arrived, the view of this dazzling blue pool completely blew me away! There were only a handful of people there when we arrived and we scrambled down the steep slope to the edge of the pool. After some trepidation, we dove in. It was some of the coldest water I’ve ever felt!  But the rush of being in such a beautiful place and the refreshing jolt of jumping in made this an unforgettable experience.  On our hike back to the car, hundreds of hikers were coming in and the parking lot was completely full. Be sure to get up early to do this hike. It’s worth it!

8. Multnomah Falls – This is one of the most accessible and beautiful waterfalls I’ve ever been to.  It can be crowded with tourists and gets very busy, but the scenery is breathtaking and it is definitely worth a visit if you are ever in the Columbia River Gorge! (Photo by Steve Walasavage)


9. The Painted Hills – Most of the time we’ve spent in Oregon was at the coast, in the woods, or exploring waterfalls.  However, there are some really beautiful desert areas.  A few years ago we drove out to the Painted Hills in the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.  The unique sand hills and rainbow of colors were really incredible!  Watch out for rattlesnakes if you visit this spot.

10. Tamanawas Falls – This was a very pretty waterfall on a relatively easy trail (3.6 miles round trip).  We didn’t have much time to spend at this waterfall, but enjoyed the hike and the lovely view of the falls!

tamanawas falls

11. Rowena Crest –  This is a beautiful lookout over an incredible winding road. It’s straight out of a car commercial (in fact they were filming a car commercial the day we were there!) We also went in April when the wild flowers were unbelievable.

12. Susan Creek Falls – Unfortunately this waterfall was swarming with mosquitoes when we visited this spring.  However, it was still a gorgeous hike and I would love to back in a different season!


13. Crater Lake – This is one of the first national parks I ever visited!  The lake was formed by a volcano that collapsed around 7,700 years ago.  It is also the deepest lake in the United States at 1,949 feet deep! We only spent one afternoon there, but I’d love to go back to explore and do some hiking!


What are your favorite spots in Oregon? Have you been to any of the locations listed in this blog? Do you have recommendations of places to visit in Oregon that aren’t in this post? Let me know in the comments or on Instagram (@carrieoutdoors).


Samuel H Boardman

After our lovely time in the redwoods, we made our way to the coast of southern Oregon. We found a nice rest area near Brookings to park overnight while we explored some beautiful beaches and viewpoints along the shore. The rugged coast dotted with rocky outcroppings and sea stacks was incredibly beautiful and I highly recommend this spot to anyone who is in the area!


Harris Beach State Park

Our first evening, we went across the street from the rest area to Harris Beach State Park where we witnessed one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen. It started with the sun lighting up the sea stacks and bathing them in golden light.

Golden Hour at Harris Beach State Park

We waited and watched as the scene kept changing as the sun sank below the horizon. Suddenly pink puffy clouds spread across the sky and reflected in the ocean over the incredible and unique rocky coast. This was an unforgettable sunset.


Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor

The next morning we woke up early to explore Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor. I had been wanting to see this area for a long time after seeing some incredible photos on Instagram, and the amazing scenery we found did not disappoint! Many of the viewpoints were easily accessible and we found pit toilets and picnic tables at the Arch Rock Viewpoint.



Natural Bridges

We started with the breathtaking Natural Bridges area. There was a small sign indicating the parking area, but no other signage was to be found. We first walked the short trail on the left to the viewing platform. Unfortunately, the view from the platform was not great as it was quite far from the natural bridges and there were many trees blocking the view. I also noticed that this was not the angle I had seen in other photos.

We returned to the car and then followed the unmarked path on the right side of the parking lot which took us down a narrow trail through the woods. The trail was steep, muddy, and challenging (and surrounded by poison oak). We slid and scrambled down toward the shore, so please be careful if you attempt this descent. Finally we got down to the rocky outcroppings and were blown away by the scenery. This was the view we were looking for! We spent a few hours here, taking photos and soaking in the beauty.

This was my favorite photo from the day!

Me and Steve at Natural Bridges


Arch Rock Viewpoint

We hiked back out and continued driving down the main road, stopping at various pull-off spots and viewpoints. We enjoyed a nice meal at the picnic area at the Arch Rock Viewpoint. There was a very short and easy trail to some lovely views (but we had to hop the fence in order to get unobstructed views of the rocky coasts and sea stacks).


Secret Beach

Our last stop was Secret Beach. We did not see signs for this spot, but had read on a different blog to find the parking area behind a guardrail that was on the right as you head south from Arch Rock (the blog said it was the third pull-off but we counted that it was the second). We parked in the unmarked dirt area and took the short, slippery path down to the beach. The views when we got down there were some of my favorite views of all time. Wow. We went at low tide and were able to walk the length of the beach. It was incredible to walk among the towering sea stacks rather than seeing them from above!


Overall, Samuel H. Boardman was a very beautiful area and I highly recommend it! Our next stop is to head back to California, where we reserved campsites at Yosemite National Park. If you have any recommendations on what to see and do in Yosemite, please leave me a message on here or on Instagram (@carrieoutdoors).


The California Redwoods

Hello again!

After a few wonderful days driving along the Pacific Coast Highway, we took some time to explore the amazing redwood forests of California. I had never seen redwood trees before and I was completely blown away. They are such incredibly beautiful trees and it was a magical experience driving and walking through the forests.

First I want to quickly thank everyone who left thoughtful and insightful comments and messages about my blog post on the new Instagram algorithm (Click here to see it). It was nice to know that I am not alone in struggling with the Instagram platform lately!

Looking up at Redwoods


Redwood Grove & Picnic Area

After hitting the road early, we were on the lookout for a picnic spot to make our usual morning coffee and breakfast. We happened to come across a really lovely clearing on the side of the road next to a wonderful redwood grove. There were picnic tables in the shade of the tall trees surrounded by ferns and lush greenery as well as a port-o-potty. It was just what we were looking for! We enjoyed our morning routine in this beautiful spot and took a short walk on the shady path through the grove before hitting the road again.


Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree

Our next stop was the Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree in Leggett, CA. While Steve and I know that cutting a giant hole out of an ancient and majestic tree is a terrible idea, we still wanted to check out this famous spot. It cost $5 to enter the small area and we were pretty bummed out that our van was too large to drive through the tree. Still, it was a pretty neat experience to stand inside the tree and it gave us a true sense of the scale of the amazing redwoods.


Avenue of the Giants

Our next stop was the Avenue of the Giants in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. This area was completely different from what I expected. I guess I was expecting it to be a quiet, secluded road that winds deep in the forest through long stretches of untouched redwoods. I am not sure why I imagined it this way. The phrase “Avenue of the Giants” just sounded so magical and wonderful. In reality, it’s a road parallel with the 101 highway that alternates between groves of redwoods and small towns with tourist attractions. The whole experience felt more commercial and less natural than I was expecting. However, each time we pulled over and wandered into the redwood groves, I absolutely loved it. Each grove was named after some one who had donated or help to preserve the forest. I am very thankful to the people throughout history who stepped up to protect these beautiful trees.


Trinidad Rest Area

There isn’t too much BLM or National Forest free dispersed camping in this area, but we enjoyed spending the night at the rest area in Trinidad. I couldn’t believe it but the rest area actually had a lovely redwood grove with picnic tables where we made dinner and breakfast. Sometimes you don’t need to take long treks to find some pretty wonderful scenery!

Me standing in awe of the majestic redwoods

The next morning, we drove around the coast and came across one of the most beautiful foggy forest scenes I have ever witnessed just outside of Patrick’s Point State Park. We stopped for a bit to take photos and soak in the beautiful misty scenery.


Redwood National and State Parks

Our next stop was Redwood National and State Parks. Here we saw even more beautiful and old redwood groves that continued to leave me awestruck. We also saw huge elk roaming and grazing just near the visitor center! I am sure we could have spent a lot of time in this park, but we only had one day. We decided to check out Fern Canyon since it was on our list and looked very different from everything we had seen lately.


Fern Canyon

The drive to Fern Canyon was on a very bumpy and rough dirt road with a few stream crossings. Thankfully we had our high clearance van to drive over deep potholes and through the large puddles on the road! It was a really neat and very short 0.1 mile hike to the deep and shadowy canyon covered in thousands of ferns of several varieties. We hopped over streams and balanced on logs as we meandered through the incredible and lush canyon. It was truly a unique experience!


Klamath River Overlook

We then drove toward the Oregon coast. We made a quick stop at the very beautiful Klamath River Overlook. This was a beautiful viewpoint of where the Klamath River meats the Pacific Ocean. We looked for whales and didn’t see any, but the fog over the distant pine trees took my breath away!

Klamath River Overlook


Trees of Mystery

Our last stop before Oregon was the Trees of Mystery parking lot. This tourist attraction was closed when we got there, but we only stopped there to see the famous giant statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the big blue ox anyway.

There were also some large bear statues, and I really love bears! We took some silly photos in the parking lot and then went on our way!



A quick warning! If you plan to hike around this area, be on the lookout for Poison Oak! It was everywhere! Remember: “leaves of three, let it be.” Or just avoid touching any plants just to be safe!


Next Steps

Up next is Oregon and exploring the waterfalls and hiking trails of the beautiful Pacific Northwest! As always, feel free to send recommendations of hikes or viewpoints. The best ways to do that are through comments on my blog or a DM on Instagram (@carrieoutdoors).