I want to propose to my girlfriend during our 6 days camping around Oregon — where should I pop the question?
First of all, congratulations! When I opened this email, I got goosebumps and butterflies and my heart started racing and I immediately had a million ideas in my mind of where you should go.
But first. I’m going to give you my top 5 favorite places in each of those three locations. And then I’m going to give you a list of wineries to look at, too.
Here is an ambitious itinerary that is also doable without feeling like you’re constantly on the go:
Day 1: Crater Lake
Campground: Lost Creek Campground
You can stay here without feeling like you’re in a box of sardines. It’s my favorite campsite in the area and doesn’t have a lot of people. Also, the Pacific Crest Trail is accessible here and you can take a short walk/hike to the Pinnacles in the area. It’s not far from the rim of the lake, but it’s not overlooking the lake. It’s also a first-come, first-serve campground, so if you can snag a spot, this would be an ideal place to pop the question.
Another option for a campsite would be Diamond Lake. It’s just 12 miles north of the rim and there are significantly LESS people there. So after a day of exploring Crater Lake it might be nice to settle down near another ridiculously beautiful lake with an epic view of Mt. Thielsen.
One thing to keep in mind: Sometimes the rim road is closed to cars and only accessible by bike. Keep that in mind and maybe double check the weekend you’re planning on coming out.
Day 2: Hot Springs
A must-see attraction is the Umpqua Hot Springs. You’ve gotta do it.
You can still get your hike to Tokatee Falls in, and you should, because it’s awesome. But make sure you spare an hour or two to check out these natural hot springs! This wouldn’t be the worst place to propose.
Day 3: Bend
I love Bend. Everyone loves Bend. It’s true. You’ll love it, too, I promise.
By then, a shower and fireplace will probably be welcomed and there’s also so much more to do there! If you haven’t proposed yet, check out Tumalo Falls, it might be what you’re looking for. Crux Fermentation Project, McMenimans, and Rogue Brewery are all really great places to celebrate as well. Honestly, Bend has more beer than anywhere else you’ll ever go in your life. Except maybe Germany. But that’s up for debate. You could rent bikes and ride along the Deschutes River Trail or go for a run along it. You could also hike Pilot Butte, take a scenic drive along the Cascade Lakes Scenic byway (it’ll drop your jaw), there are lava lands outside of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, Mt. Bachelor is pretty incredible, too.
Day 4: Smith Rock
Mmmm, Smith Rock. One of my all-time favorite places.
So, you can’t actually ‘hike’ Monkey Face. But you CAN see it from the hike called ‘Misery Ridge.’ It’s not that bad of a hike. I was able to do it two weeks after having ACL surgery last spring. This hike offers the best views, the best elevation gain and the best bang for your buck in the area if you’re going to hike. You get to experience everything Smith Rock has to offer.
If you decide that you want to climb, I’d suggest Five Gallon Buckets. It’s a popular route but it’s easy and is the best route for gym-climbers to get comfortable climbing outside. If you want to climb Monkey Face, I’d suggest getting here early an expecting a bit of a wait before roping in for this multi-pitch. It takes awhile, but it’s worth it.
If you’re looking for campsites in this area, there’s the climber’s bivvy. But it might be filled with loud climbers scrounging for leftovers. Skulls Hollow is another site that’s not too far from Smith Rock but I would highly, highly recommend camping at Haystack Reservoir. If you can get a spot by the water, you get an excellent view of Mt. Jefferson and sometimes, when the sky is clear enough, the stars reflect onto the water and it is the most amazing thing.
Day 5: Hood River
Alright, Hood River is cool. I wish I could tell you it was worth skipping but if you did skip it, I’d be offended I think. And I think you’d regret it. On your way from Bend to Hood River, there’s a hike called Tamanawas Falls. The pull-off is on the left-hand side of the road. It’s four miles round trip and is easy, fun and the payoff is totally worth it. When you’re done doing that… there’s an awesome little coffee shop in Hood River called Doppio’s. There are sandwiches, soup and some of the best coffee, ever.
If you’re still thinking about mountain biking, check out Discover Bicycles. They rent bikes for $60/day and give you helmets, maps, directions, etc. Everything you could ever need or hope for. Check out Surveyor’s Ridge for the mountain bike ride. It’s relatively easy and follows a ribbon of single track through the trees, down valleys and opens up to incredible views of both Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams.
But if you don’t want to mountain bike… take a drive along the Fruit Loop! Depending on the time of year, there are U-pick flower fields, u-pick fruit and vegetable fields and (!) wineries. Mt. Hood Winery is a great place to stop with a great view of the north side of Hood. You should be able to see Mt. Adams from here, as well.
At this point, you’ll probably be exhausted. You’ll probably be love drunk. And you’ll probably be looking for houses to rent or buy and planning on moving to Oregon.
But you should actually start driving toward Portland. Because you’re almost out of time. Get some more coffee.
You’re going to pass the Columbia River Gorge, on your left. Once you hit Cascade Locks, take the exit to get onto the Columbia Gorge Scenic Highway. This road will pull you past handfuls of waterfalls and lush, natural rainforest. There will be plenty of places to pull over, get out, hike up to and take a ton of pictures in front of some really awesome falls. My favorite is Elowah Falls. It’s a short hike in, but whoah. It’s worth it.
Multnomah Falls is by far the busiest area of the Gorge, but once you see it, you’ll know why. (It’s also the waterfall from Twilight, just a heads up). This waterfall comes with it’s own parking area and lodge. There are a handful of other falls to see along the way, too, so save your neck muscles and don’t spend too much time looking up.
I’d suggest staying somewhere in Portland this night. Especially if you’re going to fly back the next day. But if not, take your time! There are plenty of places to see and things to do and you might want to try stopping at every waterfall. Who knows?!
I hope you guys have the best trip. I’m so excited for you!
Hi! You’re in for a treat. Central Oregon in September is so beautiful.
I have several recommendations for you. Don’t miss the High Desert Museum, which presents natural and cultural history and also has live animals on site. For hiking, try Smith Rock State Park, the Deschutes River Trail, or the Cascade Lakes region. Tumalo Falls is near Bend and easy to access. The Newberry National Monument offers cool volcanic history and views as well as a waterfall, Paulina Falls.
Take a stroll through Sisters - a fun little town with Western flair. Many events take place in Sisters in September, too. There is a ton of great dining in the area – try the Old Mill District or downtown in Bend for starters.
What else do you want to know? Have a great time!
There are many great attractions and scenic areas between Newport and Astoria. My must stops for any trip in the immediate Newport area would include the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area and the historic bayfront. If you have at least a couple hours to devote, the Oregon Coast Aquarium is also a must. As you travel north, Devil’s Punchbowl at Otter Rock and the Otter Crest viewpoint at Cape Foulweather make easy stops for great views. I always find the beach north of Devil’s Punchbowl interesting, but especially at low tide.
Whenever traveling this route, I try to take the Three Capes Scenic Route, turning off at Pacific City. If you have time to climb the dune-flanking Cape Kiwanda, the views from the top are inspiring and a great place to watch wave action. Cape Lookout State Park is great, especially if you have time to hike the cape or spend some time on the beach. Cape Meares is an easy stop with a short walk to views and lighthouse. As you return to US 101 N in Tillamook, many travelers include a visit to the Tillamook County Creamery, the visitor center for the home of Tillamook cheese, ice cream and fudge.
Continuing north, the drive is scenic as you skirt Tillamook Bay and pass through small towns. Just past Garibaldi, the Three Graces rock formation at the mouth of the bay entices many visitors to pull over. Past Manzanita, the roadside viewpoints as the highway climbs Neahkahnie Mountain offer panoramic view of miles of coastline where you just traveled. Hikers will want to spend to time in Oswald West State Park, but casual sightseers should consider Hug Point where, if it’s low tide, you can walk around the point to the north to a picturesque waterfall carved out of the sandstone. Highway-side viewpoints offer views of Haystack Rock as you approach the small beach community of Cannon Beach. You can walk to the rock at low tide and explore its tidepools by parking in the Midtown area of Cannon Beach by City Hall. The best views in town are had at Ecola State Park where easy walking paths offer views of the coastline, Haystack Rock and the offshore Tillamook Rock Lighthouse. There are also great hiking trails, but at minimum you should also drive the curvy, up-and-down, narrow road to Indian Beach within the park.
Seaside is a unique Oregon Coast experience and the state’s original beach resort town, still featuring family attractions in the crowded downtown including an arcade, indoor carousel, bumper cars and the now nearly 80-year-old Seaside Aquarium. The city is famous for its 1.5-mile oceanfront promenade and the automobile turnaround at the end of Broadway that offer a glimpse back to the early days of travel to Oregon’s Pacific Coast.
As you approach Astoria, history buffs are drawn to Fort Clatsop, Lewis and Clark’s encampment from 1806 and, to the west, Fort Stevens State Park where the remains of the 1906 shipwreck Peter Iredale are still visible on the beach. Astoria itself has more historical attractions, most notably the Columbia River Maritime Museum which is along the city’s riverwalk, a fun place to stroll and watch ships on the river.
My list would grow with increased time if you have it to explore this portion of the Oregon Coast, but this itinerary should keep you pretty busy!
4-5 days in Oregon might not be enough for your mountain-seeking soul, but we’ll work with what we’ve got. From Portland, your options are endless. If you just want to see a mountain, you can hike up to Pittock Mansion through Forest Park and you’ll be able to see Mt. St. Helens, the tip of Mt. Adams, and a very prominent Mt. Hood.
But if you want to get closer, you can drive a short 45-minutes toward Mt. Hood on Highway 35. My favorite hikes with breathtaking views of Mt. Hood include:
If it’s alpine lakes and waterfalls you’re interested in finding, here are my favorites:
…and that’s just the Mt. Hood side.
If you wanted to take a day hike through the Columbia River Gorge (45 minutes from downtown Portland), I’d recommend:
If you have any questions about any of these, I’m happy to help.
I hope you have the best trip to Oregon!
Thanks a lot,
You can definitely photograph dozens of Oregon’s covered bridges in a three-day journey. How many you can hit just depends on how much driving you want to do and how early you want to get up and get started!
Assuming you start on the north end of the Willamette Valley and head south, I suggest sticking to the ones not far off the I-5 travel corridor. Here’s a recommended route for you:
Day 1: Marion, Polk, Benton, and Linn counties (10-13 bridges)
Start with the ones in the Salem vicinity:
Head south to Corvallis:
Head east to Albany to view five covered bridges clustered in a loop near Scio: (Follow the driving directions.)
This would probably be a pretty full day, but if you have more time and energy, continue east to Cascadia, where you’ll find:
Turn around and head back to Sweet Home:
From there take Highway 228 to Crawfordsville:
Day 2: Lane County (11-18 bridges) Lane County has more remaining covered bridges than any other area of the state — probably more than you could see in a day, but there are clusters of them around the Fall Creek/Lowell/Dexter area and near Cottage Grove.
You could start off just south of Eugene:
Then head out toward the cluster near Fall Creek:
Then head for the cluster near Cottage Grove:
That would put you at 11 bridges for the day. You could head back to Eugene to spend the night, or stay in Cottage Grove. Village Green Resort in Cottage Grove is supposed to be really nice.
Day 3: Douglas/Jackson County (9 bridges)
Just over the county line of Douglas County:
Near Myrtle Creek:
Continuing south into Josephine County:
East of Grants Pass toward Rogue River:
If you have time you could also continue south to
I also suggest getting your hands on the map put out by the Covered Bridge Society of Oregon, if you don’t have it already!
Is is sunny or rainy on the Oregon Coast in September? Yes!
In case my sense of humor does not translate, you should be prepared for rain just about any time you visit the Oregon Coast, though September often offers some of the most dependably sunny weather of the year. September’s high temperatures average in the mid to high 60s f (18.5-20c). Low temperatures average in the mid 40s to low 50s (8-10.5c). Rain showers are not uncommon, though September is one of the drier months of the year averaging 2-3.5 inches (5-9cm) for the month and the chance of rain increases toward late September and October. I recently wrote a story about the unpredictable weather on the Oregon Coast and you might enjoy reading that on the Coast Explorer website.
Mid-September is a very popular time on the Oregon Coast and often, when asked, I will say it is my favorite time of year here. Although there may be fewer families traveling (with children back in school), I would suggest making advance reservations for accommodations, especially on weekends or at popular destinations.
Good news, there are at least six Oregon cities to visit with amazing beer — but that may count as bad news, too. Here they are, with my best-bets for breweries:
Even if you’re not in one of these cities, make sure you look around (the Oregon Brewers Guild has a good listing by region) because chances are there’s a good brewery nearby.
I love kayaking — and it’s a great vacation idea! Here are a few spots in that area you might try:
You can rent equipment from several places:
|Outdoor Adventure, Willamette Valley|
Newport has many great attractions that you might not want to miss. The historic bay front is uniquely interesting, a mix of tourist attractions and working waterfront. The Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area is on my top 10 list of places not to miss. It’s got a beautiful lighthouse, great views, bird watching, seal watching and beautiful tide pools if you visit at a low tide. The Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport is a fantastic facility. Near Newport, Devil’s Punchbowl in Otter Rock is always worth a visit. There are also several great restaurants in Newport. If I chose between Nye Beach and Agate Beach, it would be Agate Beach. Both are pretty much just flat stretches of beach, but Agate Beach is closer to Yaquina Head and more scenic to me. In general, I prefer the beaches away from Newport and concentrate on the other attractions there.
That said, when it comes to where to stay, I do like Yachats because it is close to the amazing Cape Perpetua Scenic Area and Heceta Head. To the north is Seal Rock and you could make Newport area attractions a day trip from Yachats if you don’t check those off your list as you are headed down the Coast. Yachats is a small town with limited restaurants and shops. Florence is a fun town with good shops and restaurants, but keep in mind it is on the river and is not a beach destination.
Washburne State Park and Honeyman State Park (in the Oregon Dunes) are both great parks and campgrounds. Washburne puts you closer to beach attractions like those in and near the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area and Heceta Head. I love the hike from Washburne to the Heceta Head Lighthouse. The Hobbit Trail is shorter, leading to a sandy beach. Honeyman State Park has a nice nature trail, but beyond that you are trudging through dunes (not a bad thing, but not really a trail). Honeyman is surrounded by dune areas open to ATVs, so as you get further from the park’s core, the more you hear and see ATVs. Keep in mind, Honeyman also has a freshwater lake for swimming too. I hope this doesn’t make your choice harder, but for hiking the dunes, my choice would be the John Dellenback Dunes Trail near the Eel Creek Campground in Lakeside. You really get the feeling of the immensity of the dunes and ATV noise is as minimal as any other area I’ve found. A second choice for hiking would be setting off from the Oregon Dunes Day Use area south of Honeyman State Park. It makes an easy trek to the ocean, at least as easy as it can be walking through dunes.
There are several fun Oregon courses to play while traveling down Interstate 5. While in Portland, check out Langdon Farms just off the freeway. It’s a great course with great views of the Cascade mountains. There are a variety of tees so can be interesting for all levels of play. Not far from I-5, Pumpkin Ridge in North Plains is one of the most famous public courses that has hosted several big events, including the USGA Championships. Those are just some of the many courses you can access in the Portland area.
For the the Willamette Valley, there is a great course called Emerald Valley Country Club in Creswell. It’s flat, easy to walk and not very expensive. But it’s also famous for hosting several NACC and high-level competitions. However, you have plenty of options in Lane County.
Southern Oregon has many great courses. One of my favorites is a Bob Cupp design called Centennial Golf Club, located in Medford. It too is walkable and more of a links kind of experience in the heart of the state. If you are traveling right down the 5, another cool course is called Grants Pass Golf Club. Play a quick 18 and then go back on the road if you so choose. Of course, there are also plenty of other courses in Southern Oregon.
Throughout all this travel are fantastic wine tasting options for you to consider. Remember, no sales tax in Oregon, so drink up.