Whether you fly in for a long weekend or a full week’s stay, an Oregon road trip is a great choice for a summer destination. We planned this trip to celebrate our wedding anniversary, and these East-coasters couldn’t get enough! We can’t wait to come back with the boys!
Day 0 – Get to Eugene, Oregon
Fly into Portland, get a rental car, and drive to Eugene. This will be your base camp for night 0 and night 1. We stayed in an amazing Airbnb, but there are several great hotels in Eugene too. Get the full Oregon Ducks feel at the Graduate, located right downtown.
Day 1 – Eugene and Crater Lake National Park
5 hours of driving plus drive time around Crater Lake
We started our morning in Eugene with a breakfast sandwich and a lox bagel from Barry’s Espresso Bakery & Deli. Then we got on the road for a beautiful scenic 2 hour drive to Crater Lake National Park. If you’re driving from Eugene like we were, you’ll pass Lookout Point Lake and Lake Odell on your way. Lookout Point Lake has stunning green-blue water, and it stretches along the road as you enter the Willamette National Forest.
Crater Lake is a truly spectacular place! The entrance fee is $30 unless you have a national parks pass.
Pack a picnic lunch to avoid crowds at the two restaurants around the crater. Whether you use the North Entrance like we did coming from Eugene or the main Annie Spring Entrance station, plan to drive the entire loop around the caldera. It takes approximately 1.5 hours to drive the loop, so you should plan 3-4 hours to include all your overlook stops and more if you plan to do any hiking.
There are 30 lookout points around the lake, so you might not be able to stop at each one. Sinnott Memorial Observation Station is a popular stop and our favorites were Cloudcap Overlook (take the trail to the right) and Victor View.
We planned to stop at Toketee Falls, a short .9 mile out and back hike, on the way back to Eugene, but the road was closed due to a forest fire, and we had to return the same way we came. We finished the evening with a lovely dinner at Ambrosia Restaurant in Eugene. Get the mushroom ravioli!
Day 2 – Drive up the Oregon Coast
5 hours of driving
Before leaving Eugene, stop at Voodoo doughnuts. Their most iconic doughnuts are probably the Voodoo Doll and Cap’n Crunch (Oh Captain, My Captain). I love apple fritters, so I ordered the Memphis Mafia, which swaps the apples for banana chunks and is topped with chocolate and peanut butter drizzle, chocolate chips, and crushed peanuts. It took me the whole rest of the day to eat it!
Drive 1.5 hours from Eugene to Florence and then start driving north on the 101. The drive to Cannon Beach will take 3.5 hours with no stops, but we took our time stopping at a lot of beautiful places and spent about 7 hours making the drive! I’ll share four must-do stops here. Find many more on our post on Scenic Stops for an Oregon Coast Road Trip.
1. Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint – $5 parking fee. View the lighthouse from the beach and explore tide pools at low tide. I recommend hiking boots for crossing where Cape Creek runs into the ocean.
2. Hobbit Trailhead – A .5 mile out and back hike down to a beautiful secluded beach.
3. Neptune State Scenic Viewpoint – Follow the path and stairs down to the rocky beach.
4. Neskowin Ghost Forest and Proposal Rock – Park at the Neskowin Beach State Recreation Site. The ghost forest is only visible at low tide, but Proposal Rock is beautiful at any time of day.
Bonus – If you can go at highest tide, Thor’s Well and Spouting Horn.
We had originally planned to have lunch in Yachats. Bread & Roses, Luna Seafood Fish House, The Drift Cafe, Hilltop Cafe, Ona restaurant all came highly recommended, but we were driving by on a Friday afternoon in mid-July and it was very congested, so packing a picnic lunch would also be a great option.
We recommend staying at The Courtyard, Cannon Beach Hotel, or Hallmark Resort Hotel in Cannon Beach. After checking in, walk to dinner, and then return home walking along the beach towards Haystack Rock. If you’re up for a longer walk, try Corbins, Castaways, MacGregor’s, or EVOO. If you’d prefer something closer to your hotel, Cannon Beach Hardware and Public House is a great casual spot and Newmans at 988 is perfect for a more romantic dinner.
Day 3 – Cannon Beach
About 1 hour of driving
You’ll want to time today’s activities to the tides. Hitting Hug Point at the lowest tide is the most crucial, because the tide comes in very quickly and you might find yourself getting very wet on your walk without intending to. At high tide Hug Point is completely inaccessible and even dangerous to visit. Haystack Rock can still be enjoyed at high tide, but I recommend going towards low tide as much as possible.
An hour before low tide, drive to Hug Point State Recreation Site. Walk the original pathway that stagecoaches would take around the point before the highway was built. There are also a few caves and a small waterfall.
Walk along the beach to Haystack Rock. During low tide, you can get very close to the rock and view the surrounding tide pools. Haystack Rock has a reflection at low tide as well, which makes for beautiful photos.
Visit Ecola State Park. $5 parking fee. Enjoy the overlook in the Ecola Point parking lot or park in the Indian Beach lot and take one of the hiking trails. Parking lots fill quickly during summer months.
Day 4 – Waterfalls in Portland
2.5 hours of driving
Drive 2 hours to Portland, stopping for brunch at Camp 18 Restaurant. The rustic log cabin style restaurant is surrounded by wood carvings, logging equipment, and train cars. There’s even RV parking here.
After driving through Portland, stop at the Portland Women’s Forum State Scenic Viewpoint. This is the first stop along a 12 mile stretch of overlooks and waterfalls.
Columbia River Gorge Vista House
Latourell Falls – Latourell Falls has two paths from the parking lot. We took the one farthest from the road, which has a steep incline, but allows you an excellent view of the waterfall just minutes from the parking lot. We had a big day of hiking ahead of us, so we returned to the parking lot without doing the entire 3 mile loop trail.
Bridal Veil Falls – .5 mile out and back trail
Wakeena Falls – Climb .2 miles up the trail to a stone arch bridge at the falls. One of our favorites, because we enjoyed being right up next to the falls. We did not continue down the trail.
Multnomah Falls – This very popular waterfall is just a short walk from the parking lot. You can follow the trail to the bridge and beyond if you’d like. A timed use permit may be required seasonally.
We planned to return to Columbia River Gorge Vista House for sunset, but we finished our hiking well before sunset and decided to drive into Portland to Cloud City Ice Cream instead. (It was incredible! I highly recommend the Totes Magoats!)
Horsetail Falls – Right on the side of the road. This is a nice spot to dip toes in.
If you have time for more hiking, continue 4 miles past Horsetail Falls to Upper McCord Creek Falls. Some of the trails on this trailhead are currently closed, but you could still hike the upper falls. During the hike you’ll have some great views over the Columbia River into Washington and when you reach the top of the falls, you can even stop and cool off in the river!
If you’ve had to skip any of the waterfalls, because of lack of parking, head back to those now. Or head to Multnomah Falls Lodge for dinner.
We had a red-eye flight home, so from here we drove 30 minutes back to the Portland airport. You could choose to stay the night in Portland or continue your trip elsewhere!
Oregon Road Trip Tips:
Be prepared to walk a lot on this trip! I walked 13,000 steps on our road trip day and 21,000 steps at the Portland waterfalls. To minimize walking, stick close to the Crater Lake overlooks, eliminate the Hobbit Trailhead or the walk across the beach to the Neskowin Ghost Forest on the coast, and skip the Upper McCord Creek Falls hike in Portland.
Make sure to look at the tide charts before your trip. We used this site for our trip. Recently, we were introduced to Tidecharts which has a great set of tide charts that are incredibly easy to read!
Also keep an eye on the weather forecast. We were looking forward to seeing the sunset over the Pacific Ocean for the first time, but we got a string of very cloudy days during our visit. If you happen to have a beautiful sunset, don’t miss it! The sunset at Haystack Rock and the way it reflects onto the water is spectacular!
Extend the Trip:
This itinerary has a lot of driving (about 14 hours), because we wanted to maximize our limited time in Oregon over a long weekend. If you had more time, you could certainly slow down. Here are some options if you would like to extend the trip.
5 Day Oregon Road Trip:
For a 5 day Oregon road trip itinerary, I’d recommend sticking to the above itinerary but slowing down a bit. Stay overnight at Crater Lake Lodge or stop partway through the coast drive, maybe at Overleaf Lodge in Yachats. If you’re traveling during peak season, many hotels will have 2 night minimums, so that’s a great way to spend more time enjoying each town as well.
1 Week Oregon Itinerary:
For a 7 day road trip in Oregon, add on all the nights I suggested above. Or add on 2 nights in Mt. Hood and Bend. Then drive to Crater Lake and follow the rest of the original itinerary.
Or if you want to drive even more of the coast, stay overnight in Crater Lake and then leave by the Annie Spring Entrance Station and drive south, dipping down into California to come up 101 and drive the entire coast. The Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor is a must do! Stop overnight around Yachats, before finishing the rest of the original road trip itinerary.