: Dylan Van Weelden

Top 20 Oregon Adventures for 2020

December 18, 2019

It’s not just a new year — it’s a new decade! Whatever type of traveler you were in the 20-teens, it’s time to channel your best selves and zero in on what you really want to do for your mental and physical well-being in the 2020s. Whether you want to try a new scenic trail (by foot, bike, ski or snowshoe), sample the world-class craft-beverage scene, dive into a new sport via a guided adventure or take an off-the-grid getaway for the ages, here are 20 ideas for an iconic Oregon adventure to start the new decade off right. (Hint: National Plan for Vacation Day is Jan. 28, 2020 — we’re just sayin’.)

1. Off-the-grid adventure to Eastern Oregon: Plan a sojourn to the Alvord Desert, a dry lake bed where you can live out your wanderlust dreams. While you’re adventuring around Southeastern Oregon, take advantage of the mountain bike trails and Alvord Hot Springs, not to mention a day hike up Steens Mountain (if you’re up for it, take on the challenging 5.6-mile out-and-back Pike Creek Canyon Trail along the eastern face). Here are more off-the-grid road trips across Oregon for inspiration.

Advertisements

2. Snowy retreat to Central Oregon: Just northwest of the rugged Old West town of Sisters, The Suttle Lodge has a variety of accommodations for the whole family — from a deluxe room in the historic lodge to large lakeside cabins and rustic cabins when you just need a bunk. Grab chowder and snacks at the excellent Boathouse restaurant onsite. Spend the day snowshoeing at Suttle Lake or sledding or tubing at one of Central Oregon’s sno-parks and enjoy the snow-capped views along Santiam Pass.

3. Bike trips: An Oregon tradition since 1988, Cycle Oregon is back in 2020 with four epic options: a two-day gravel ride around Mt. Hood (May 17-19, 2020), ladies’ Joyride (June 20, 2020), the family-friendly WEEKENDER (July 24-26, 2020) and weeklong Classic ride (Sept. 12-19, 2020). Proceeds go to support local communities throughout the state. 

4. Nature-based wellness escape: Time to unplug? Set out on a “forest bathing” hike, take a dip in one of Oregon’s magical hot springs, or try a tranquil paddle on the Lower Columbia River Water Trail. Read up on the benefits of nature-based wellness and peruse our four ways to find wellness for more trip ideas.

5. Romantic trips: Mountains, rivers, valleys and coastline — what more do you need to inspire romance? Book a trip for two in a rustic cabin or a luxury resort. Check out these couples-friendly ideas in Seaside, the Willamette Valley and Sisters country, as well as these romantic small towns throughout the state.

 

The Iron Mountain Trail is home to more than 300 types of wildflowers. (Photo credit: Christian Heeb)

6. Waterfall and wildflower wanderings: Hardcore fans set their spring calendars by the wildflower blooms. If you look around, you’ll find color popping everywhere between March and June, and it just so happens that many trails lead to showstopping waterfalls. Consider these ideas for wildflower hikes, waterfall trails in the Willamette Valley, spring waterfall hikes, five waterfall and wildflower hikes, and kid-friendly waterfall adventures in Southern Oregon

7. Extreme adventures: Nothing like a little out-of-your-comfort-zone fun to get you pumped for the new decade. Take a treetop adventure for the ages at Opal Creek or the new Aerial Park at Salishan Resort on the Coast. From hang gliding and kiteboarding to scenic helicopter rides and skydiving, these expert-led lessons and experiences will calm your nerves as you prepare to catch air

8. Foodie focused: So much amazing food, so little time. The next time you chart a road trip, make it a foodie-focused one. Check out these self-guided routes for inspiration: South Willamette Valley Food Trail, Great Umpqua Food Trail, Wild Rivers Coast Food Trail, East Gorge Food Trail and places to eat around the Hood River County Fruit Loop. Eastern Oregon has its own set of stunning food-focused routes for all seasons: Whisky & Rocks Farm Loop, River to Hills Farm Loop Tour and Cove-Union Farm Loop.

9. Guided raft trip: Summertime is all about playing on the water, and there’s no experience needed for a guided raft trip down one of Oregon’s Wild and Scenic Rivers — just a giant sense of adventure. All across the state, dozens of outfitters will provide the gear and know-how to take a trip through rugged canyons and gentle (or wild) rapids. Read our Rafting Oregon 101 guide.

10. Arts galore: Think about the last time you sat down to truly enjoy art. If it’s been too long, you might enjoy the self-guided Oregon Coast arts tour or a world-class performance at the acclaimed Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which runs February to November. Check out the theater lover’s guide to Oregon for the scoop on the scene.

Mt. Jefferson Wilderness (Photo by: Tyler Roemer)

11. Dog-friendly travel: Oregon takes pet travel to the next level. Discover your new favorite trail to walk or run with Fido, such as North Fork Trail near Bend. Make sure to purchase a day-use permit if you plan to hike at any of 19 popular trails in the Mt. Jefferson, Three Sisters and Mt. Washington wilderness areas starting summer 2020, under new federal regulations. Find more inspiration in our dog’s guides to trails in Central Oregon, the Gorge and Mt. Hood, pit stops off I-5 and sunny spots for dogs.

12. Wine lover’s escape: Yes, Oregon is famous for its world-class pinot noir, but have you tried wine tasting around the Rogue Valley, with its stunning views and intimate tasting rooms? Plan a trip touring the boutique family-run wineries on the Bear Creek Wine Trail and challenge yourself to find a new favorite. Pro tip: Time your visit with a show at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and if you visit in summer, catch a concert at the Britt Festival.

13. Accessible adventures for all: Sometimes you’re looking for a good paved trail, or a way to access a viewpoint that doesn’t require a strenuous trek. No matter what your skill or mobility level, Oregon’s wild beauty is open to all. Find your favorite season and head out on these accessible trails and accessible adventures for all across the state. 

14. Winter getaways: The weather outside might be drizzly, foggy, chilly or snowy, but that’s what makes for the best cozy winter getaways with family, friends, pets and partners. Check out these cool cabins for cozy getaways — or for the ambitious winter lovers, read up on our tips for how to go winter camping like a pro.

15. Craft-brew fun: Whether it’s hoppy or sour, crisp and refreshing or barrel-aged and complex, there’s so much craft beer to sample in Oregon. Vow to try a new style this year; find inspiration for beer tasting in the Portland Region, craft beer in Corvallis, and exploring the Eugene Ale Trail, Bend Ale Trail or Eastern Oregon Brews Byway.

Leaping Lamb Farm Stay

16. Farm getaways: Baby goats, ducklings, ponies and more — who doesn’t love a farm getaway? If you haven’t taken one, Oregon has several incredible farms that host visitors year-round — but go in the spring if you want to see the newborns. You can help feed the animals and learn about sustainable practices and farm life at Willow-Witt Ranch in Southern Oregon and Leaping Lamb Farm Stay in the Willamette Valley.

17. Wildlife lovers welcome: From great blue herons to gray whales, sea lions to sea stars, Oregon wildlife lovers have so much to celebrate. Attend a festival to be fully immersed: The Winter Wings Festival in Klamath Falls is known as Woodstock for birders, a great intro for beginners and a connection to fellow bird nerds for longtime enthusiasts. During spring migration, catch these feathered festivals and head to Eastern Oregon, a haven for bird lovers.

18. Hit the slopes: When the fluffy stuff starts to drop, Oregonians go head to the ski resorts. If you’ve always wanted to ski or snowboard — or teach the kids — now’s the time. Check out all the deals and options at Mt. Bachelor or Mt. Hood, or if you’re looking for fewer crowds, consider skiing at Mt. Ashland (hop on a shuttle to the mountain to avoid driving, wherever you go).

19. Photo trips: One of the biggest delights of the year is around September, when the trees start turning vibrant shades of red, orange and gold, bringing even more layers of beauty to parks, cityscapes and trails. Find a brand-new trail or bike ride to take in the fall with our primer on fall foliage, and fill your photo feeds with colorful images before the season is gone. All year-round, check out these Instafamous spots on Oregon’s North Coast and Central Coast

20. Car-free exploring: Hate parking and traffic hassles? Many of Oregon’s cities and towns are easy to explore on foot, by bicycle, by bike-share, ride-share, e-scooter, private shuttles and public transportation — to save on gas and truly be able to sit back and enjoy the ride. Find our top car-free getaways to the Mt. Hood and Gorge area; Central, Eastern and Southern Oregon; the Willamette Valley; Oregon Coast; and our handy guide to accessing one of Oregon’s most popular destinations, Multnomah Falls.  

 

About The
Author

Jen Anderson
Jen Anderson writes and edits Travel Oregon's e-newsletters, annual Visitor Guide and other editorial content. She loves finding the latest places to eat, drink and play around the state with her husband and two young boys. Brewpubs, beaches and bike trails top the list.

Trip Ideas

  • Oregon’s Most Off-the-Grid Road Trips
    Do you crave an off-the-grid road trip? Then point the car toward Eastern, Central and Southern Oregon, where blacktop winds for thousands of miles through thick forests, windswept hills and rippled volcanic landscapes. Here’s a... More
  • Nature-Based Wellness in Oregon
    Think back to the last time you had a picnic on the grass, a stroll on the beach, a ramble through the woods, a walk in the park. It’s kind of hard to be stressed... More
  • Rafting Oregon 101
    If it’s a rafting trip you are looking for, you’ll find it in Oregon, home to everything from adventurous Class-V rivers in deep canyons to mellower whitewater rapids through verdant countryside. Here’s a pro river... More