The types of things you can do in spring are about as diverse as the refreshing but unpredictable weather. From the first wild trillium bloom in March, the world begins to brighten from rain and snow into clearer skies, flowering trees and rushing waterfalls. Outdoor sports range from skiing and snowboarding to hiking and biking. It’s the prime time to head to the Coast to watch migrating whales. This is when the state’s festivals begin heating up too. You can sport your favorite T-shirt, but wear an insulated raincoat and expect to be dazzled as the Beaver State bursts with colors.
Spring is one of the most scenic times of year to visit Portland and Hood River, thanks in great part to the pink explosion of cherry blossoms. In Portland, you’ll see them blossom along Tom McCall Waterfront Park in late March through early April. On weekends, enjoy the flowering trees, then peruse the adjacent Portland Saturday Market. In the Columbia River Gorge, Hood River celebrates the cotton-candy boughs with the Hood River Valley Blossom Time festivities in April, an ideal month to drive the Hood River County Fruit Loop.
Hit the Snowy Slopes
Winter may be over, but the ski season in Oregon sure isn’t. Ski, snowboard, snowshoe and tube slopes across the state from the extra-long seasons on high-elevation Mt. Hood and Mt. Bachelor to the smaller outfits like Anthony Lakes in Eastern Oregon and Mt. Ashland in Southern Oregon.
Watch For Whales
Whales travel along the Oregon Coast year-round, but one of the peak times is from late February to May, when gray whales migrate to their Alaska feeding grounds. While you may spot them from almost anywhere along the Coast, Depoe Bay is known as the state’s whale-watching capital; it’s home to the Oregon State Parks’ Whale Watching Center and several charter-boat tour companies. Spring watching begins in late March as the gray whales travel north on their way towards Alaska. The first surge swims past Oregon around the end of March, and we watch the north-bound whales all the way until June.
Wildflowers pop up everywhere in spring, which means plenty of wildflower hikes. From the end of March through June, a great family-friendly hike is Mt. Pisgah, just a few miles south of Eugene. Strap on boots and choose a walk in Buford Park to reach the 1,531-foot summit with views over the Willamette Valley and the Cascade Mountain foothills, or stroll through Mount Pisgah Arboretum with easier, organized trails, labeled species and many events throughout the year.
Waterfalls are a big deal all over Oregon, and they roar mightily in spring. Southern Oregon’s Rogue and Umpqua rivers flow through lesser-known cascade country, with falls that are more off the beaten path than those you find in Northwestern Oregon. Hike to 294-foot-tall Watson Falls, trek through primeval-feeling cedar forests to Fall Creek Falls, warm your bones in Umpqua Hot Springs and so much more.
The crisp spring air is also the perfect time to get outside for some road riding, and few places are as traffic-free and full of sunshine at this time of year as Eastern Oregon. You could do it yourself on a Scenic Bikeway such as the Painted Hills, or hook up for guided trips with a local. It’s also a great time to go off-road for some mountain biking; riders of all skill levels will find lots to love on the coastal trails at Whiskey Run Mountain Bike Trail on Oregon’s South Coast.
If You Go:
Spring weather can range from below freezing to the mid-seventies, so check the forecast and be prepared. Use TripCheck.com for road conditions and closures. Carry chains if you’re headed to the mountains or Eastern Oregon. No matter where you’re going, bring warm and waterproof clothes and follow these Leave No Trace tips.