Oregon is pretty big. It’s the ninth largest state in the U.S., covering nearly 100,000 square miles. There are a lot of places to explore. So it’s no wonder that everyone who visits Oregon has a different story to tell. From fly-fishing along the North Umpqua River to meteor shower viewings from a mountaintop, Oregon has a lot to offer. We asked some of the state’s best known travelers to share some of their favorite spots. Take a look at the My Oregon series and maybe you’ll be inspired to embark on your own adventure.
Brooke Weeber is a Portland-based illustrator who brings whimsical, nature-based scenes to life. She’s also a hot spring nut, always searching for the off-the-beaten-path thermal pools.
It wasn’t an easy task to narrow it down to just a few (heck, that’s why I live here!), but I’ll give it a shot. Last year for my birthday we went on a backpacking trip to the Wallowas in Eastern Oregon. I had previously only seen the Wallowas in the snow and looked forward to exploring the alpine lakes and towering granite peaks in the heat of summer.
By far my favorite resting point of the whole weekend was at Glacier Lake. With stunning views of nearby Eagle Cap, turquoise waters of the lake and the quiet of the mountain wilderness, I couldn’t believe I would be pitching my tent there and staying all night. Far away from the rush of any crowds, it had better views than any 5-star hotel. Eagle Cap remains to be my favorite backpacking trip I’ve taken in Oregon (and I’ve hiked the entire section of the Pacific Crest Trail). I hope to making another trip back here this summer, if time allows.
Summer Lake Hot Springs
I’m a bit of a hot spring nut. I seek them out whenever possible and Oregon is chock-full of them. On my way back from a work trip in San Francisco last December, I decided to take the long detour to Summer Lake Hot Springs, a beautiful pool inside a rustic old barn, to spend an evening relaxing in soothing waters. It was nearly deserted as I pitched my tent nearby. (You can also rent cabins if you prefer a more luxurious stay.) I spent most of my night soaking it all in and awoke the next morning to snow. “Memorable” doesn’t even begin to describe it.
Willow Creek Hot Springs
Willow Creek Hot Springs (also known as Whitehorse Hot Springs) is definitely off the beaten path. The first time we made our way here we took a few wrong turns and nearly threw in the towel!
Pro tip: it’s much easier to find in daylight. The 20+ mile drive down the gravel road is most definitely worth it. The water is warm (but not too warm) and there’s some free camping available right near the hot spring. All I ask is that you please pack everything out and leave this magical place pristine for the next visitors.