Oregon summers are all about sunshine. But when you’re ready for an escape from the heat, we have lots of easy ways to cool down. Here’s how to find relief with a shady hike, a misty waterfall, a cool lava tube, a chilly ice rink, a frozen treat and more.
Catch these lake vibes
With early summer mosquitos gone, August is prime time to hit the lakes. Wallowa Lake in Joseph is an enchanting retreat any time of year, but during our hottest months, nothing beats a swim in its crystal-clear waters. Walton Lake is another gem, in Central Oregon’s Ochoco National Forest where you can also cast your fishing line for stocked rainbow trout and catfish. The glassy waters of Big Lake near Sisters are ideal for paddling. In the Tualatin Valley, take your paddleboard, kayak or huge floaty tube to Henry Hagg Lake, where the no-wake zone means you can truly chill out without worry. Don’t forget the life vests and sunscreen, and see our new summer lake guide for more inspiration!
Chase the ice
Feel like you need to walk into a freezer to cool down? Try your friendly community ice rink. Portland’s Lloyd Center Ice Rink, Beaverton’s Winterhawks Skating Center, Sherwood Ice Arena and The RRRink in Medford offer learn-to-skate lessons for young and old. More frostiness? Indulge in ice cream on the Coast at one of your favorite spots — just remember to eat it in a nice shady spot so it doesn’t make a big gooey mess.
Get up high
It’s cooler in the high altitude of the Steens Mountain Wilderness, one of Oregon’s most remote and stunning areas. An epic trek to the glacial lakes will leave you in a cool sweat, but the view is so distracting you likely won’t notice. Near Mt. Hood, take the shaded hike to Tamanawas Falls, with a nice mist from the waterfall at the end. Coastal forest hikes are also typically cooler than other regions; check out this round-up of lovely treks on the Oregon Coast for all skill levels.
The temperature can drop as much as 20 degrees below ground, so summer is the perfect time to explore Oregon’s many underground secrets. Walking through Crack in the Ground — a 2-mile-long, 70-foot-deep volcanic fissure in Southern Oregon’s remote Christmas Valley — is awe-inspiring for sure. You can also cool off while learning about the delicate ecosystems of lava tube caves in Central Oregon’s high desert on a guided trip with Wanderlust Tours. In Eastern Oregon, the Pendleton Underground Tours gives a glimpse of Pendleton’s historic red-light district, leading visitors along subterranean, basalt-rock tunnels built at the turn of the twentieth century. Finally, on the Oregon Coast, the Fort Stevens Underground Tour offers a fascinating, family-friendly look at the underground battery that’s normally locked off from the public. It runs several times daily through September; check hours of operation of all tours before you go, and book ahead of time when you can.
Head to the beach
We love the Oregon Coast for so many reasons, one being that it stays moderately cool year-round. Come summer you can expect temperatures in the 60s along the shores. Because of this, it’s also the most popular season to visit the Coast. Find a secluded spot on Oregon’s South Coast, where a 60-mile stretch features photo-worthy sea stacks and epic water adventures on jet boats and kayaks. With the cool weather, you won’t mind working up a sweat on a newly designated fat bike route.