If you remember Reese Witherspoon throwing her boots off a mountain ridge in the 2014 movie “Wild,” or perhaps the stomach-churning hilarity of the blueberry pie-eating contest in “Stand by Me,” then you know Oregon is home to hundreds of memorable, big-screen moments. “Animal House,” “The Goonies,” “Twilight,” “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”: For each, filmmakers used Oregon as the backdrop. How fitting, then, that we even have the world’s last Blockbuster store in Bend. (There’s a film about that, too.)
Since 2020 alone, more than 50 films have been produced in Oregon, including big-screen favorites “Pig” and “First Cow” and the animated “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” — a stop-motion animated feature film produced entirely in Oregon by Portland-based animation studio ShadowMachine — named the Golden Globes’ best animated film of 2022. Here’s how you can visit just about any Oregon film location that catches your imagination.
An App to Take Part in the Action
Chasing down your favorite movie scenes in real life is an entertaining way to learn about the storied communities, landscapes and waterways that make Oregon a filmmaker’s dream set. More than 500 movies and shows have been filmed in the state over the past half-century. Finding scenes from them is a lot easier now with SetJetters, an app that Oregon Film has developed. The app guides visitors along the Oregon Film Trail to the exact spot featured in movies and shows.
The app is fun and easy to use. It teaches you more about the places where filming took place and even introduces you to area attractions. You can pinpoint, say, the spot in Oxbow Regional Park near Portland where Edward reveals his true nature to Bella in “Twilight”; then you can read about the park and what’s nearby, including five more filming locations. Coolest of all, you can replicate scenes using your smartphone camera and a free SetJetters feature that superimposes the original movie still over your own picture, allowing you to line them up exactly. Want a picture of the family at Hammond Marina near Astoria where Willy jumps to freedom in 1993’s “Free Willy”? No problem.
The app is just the latest way to seek out these Hollywood gems. For the analog-loving traveler, the Oregon Film Trail uses more than 40 physical signs installed at film locations around the state, no device required. In late 2022, three new stops were added in Eastern Oregon.
Visit These Notable Oregon Film Locations
Here are a few places to add to your own highlight reel, ordered by date of appearance. For a full list of movies and television series filmed in Oregon, visit Oregon Film’s history page.
This critically acclaimed movie starring Nicolas Cage centers on a reclusive Oregon forager and his beloved pig that sniffs through the woods to find truffles that Rob (Cage) sells to high-end restaurants — that is until burglars knock Rob unconscious and steal his lovable, snorting friend. So begins a dramatic journey that takes Rob on a mission to retrieve his prized animal. Along the way there’s no mistaking the city is Portland, with shots of the Broadway Bridge, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Helen Bernhard Bakery, among many others. The woodsy scenes where Rob lives in a shack of a cabin were shot east of Portland, around Estacada.
When Cheryl Strayed’s bestselling memoir “Wild” went to the big screen, Oregon served as the location for nearly every scene. Look closely and you’ll see Paulina Lake Lodge inside the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, as well as Smith Rock State Park and the Oregon Badlands Wilderness Area. There’s a flashback scene that takes place in the Driftwood Room inside the Hotel deLuxe. For a more physical outing, hike the Mirror Lake Trail near Mt. Hood for about 2 miles up to a ridge on 5,010-foot Tom Dick and Harry Mountain, where that famous screaming, boot-hurling scene took place. Strayed finished her journey along the Columbia River at Cascade Locks and the steel Bridge of the Gods. Find hikers sharing stories at Thunder Island Brewing Company, especially during PCT Days, an annual festival celebrating the Pacific Crest Trail in August.
Anyone visiting Portland is bound to encounter filming locations of the infamous IFC series “Portlandia.” During a wildly popular eight-season run, the sketch show filmed in many pockets of Portland.
In the series’ opening credits are a number of iconic Portland locations: Powell’s City of Books, Burnside Skatepark, the “Keep Portland Weird” sign across from Voodoo Doughnut and the namesake Portlandia statue on the Portland Building downtown. One of the most recognizable sites is the Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade, the backdrop for the lighthearted “Dream of the ’90s” music video. You’ll find local tastemakers nearby, including Steven Smith Teamaker, Water Avenue Coffee, and Shalom Y’all, to name a few.
Fans of the “Twilight Saga” book and movie series know the story line is based in the Pacific Northwest but may not realize Oregon played a major role in the five films. Northwest of Portland, the city of St. Helens served as the movie’s Port Angeles. Several iconic “Twilight” scenes — including the one of Bella and Edward in the treetops — were shot at Silver Falls State Park, known as the “crown jewel” of the Oregon State Parks system. The sprawling park is best known for the Trail of Ten Falls, a 7.2-mile loop hike to 10 awe-inspiring waterfalls, as well as more than 35 miles of backcountry trails for mountain biking, hiking and horseback riding.
The beginning scenes of ’90s classic “Free Willy” show a sequence of geographically diverse locations from Burnside Skatepark and Oaks Amusement Park in Portland to the fish market in Astoria and wild waves near Cannon Beach. Did you know that animatronic whales stood in for Keiko (the whale’s “real” name) during some of the more complicated scenes during the filming? An Oregon Film Trail marker at Hammond Marina near Astoria, where Willy jumps to freedom, explains it all.
Stand by Me
Most kids of the ’80s have scenes from the coming-of-age film “Stand by Me” ingrained in their minds, and true fans will want to visit Brownsville, the Willamette Valley town that doubled for the story’s fictional Castle Rock. Three Historic Oregon Film Trail signs in town mark locations used in the movie, and every July the town hosts Stand by Me Day with music, games, pies, a costume contest, classic cars and three showings of the movie. It’s also the best time to take a walking tour of the town. Outside Cottage Grove, along the Row River Trail, is the red trestle bridge that Gordie, Chris, Teddy and Vern crossed on their trek. (It’s also seen in 1926’s “The General” with Buster Keaton.) The trail is a car-free section of the Covered Bridges Scenic Bikeway, a family-friendly route along Dorena Lake.
The ’80s adventure-comedy “The Goonies” has all the ingredients for a kids’ classic: best friends, a pirate’s treasure map and sweeping Oregon landscapes. The Oregon Film Museum, located in Astoria on Oregon’s North Coast, is housed in the very jail seen in the opening of “The Goonies.” You can see the house used in the film from the East End Mooring Basin near the Astoria Riverwalk Trail. (John Jacob Astor Elementary School, just two blocks uphill, also served for the exterior shots in “Kindergarten Cop.”) Fans can read up on the latest developments of the Goonies house. If you visit, be sure to view locations from a distance, out of respect for private property owners and neighbors.
Nearby, take a trip to Ecola State Park for a view that’s both breathtakingly beautiful and very familiar. This is where the Goonies found the Fratelli family’s hideout, where the boys bike to a viewpoint of the rocks. (It’s also featured in “Twilight” and the 1991 film “Point Break” starring Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze.) After your Goonies-esque photos, embark on your own adventure on the 8-mile segment of the Oregon Coast Trail or the 2.5-mile interpretive Clatsop Loop Trail.
Paint Your Wagon
Back in the late 1960s, a part of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest transformed into “No Name City,” a fictitious miner’s settlement in “Paint Your Wagon,” a Western musical starring Lee Marvin, Clint Eastwood and Jean Seberg. The tall and inspiring Wallowa Mountains — dubbed the “Alps of Oregon” — and the Eagle Cap Wilderness set the scene.
Fans can visit the Paint Your Wagon Interpretive Site just outside Baker City and Halfway, and take photos with the wooden marker designating the site along the East Eagle River. Hikers will love further venturing along the East Eagle Trail.