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Oregon — where the greenest of green forests, epic powder mountains, west coast surf towns, and trendy hot spots all come together to make one hell of a state.— Oregon is insanely underrated and deserves more recognition. Theres so much diversity in this single state, it’s truly something special. (Although the cities of Oregon are great, such as Portland, Eugene, and Bend. I’m going to be focusing more on the nature aspect for this segment).
Whether you’re looking to hit up some artsy breweries, submerge yourself in nature, or take on some extreme sporting activities, Oregons got it all. Ranking it high on my list of favorite places in the U.S. (Next to Utah, click here to learn why).
On Billy and I’s most recent road-trip, we spent about a week in Oregon. We hiked through rainforest like terrain, skied Timberline, and chilled on the beaches along the shore all in less than 7days. The state of Oregon stole a piece of my heart (again), and heres why…
We definitely had a different ski experience at Timberline than most. We were in the heap of the pandemic and all ski resorts ended the season early. Timberline however just couldn’t shake the fact that all their amazing snow was going to waste. Skiing is naturally a socially distanced sport. So, by the grace of the ski gods, they were able to extend their season while abiding by some strict COVID protocols.
Everyday till the end of the season they had limited online reservations available at 2:00pm sharp. You’d fill out your name and details, submit, and pray that you made it through in time. They only accepted 250 people on the mountain per day, with two lifts running and limited runs open.
Pandemic Skiing in Oregon
Those 250 tickets sold out within seconds every day. We camped out in the forest about 20min from Timberline for 4 nights straight trying to submit our reservations. On the third day we were about to give up. We went for a hike in the forest with zero reception. Suddenly, we looked at the time — it was 1:58pm, and I magically had one. single. bar. of service.
Somehow, that single bar gave me enough service to log on, fill out the form and submit. With little hope and high ambitions, I danced my fingers across my phone screen faster than a cheetah taking down its prey. Suddenly, it brought us to a new page — “Reservation submitted”. Finally, I scored us two passes to Timberline! We were about to be two out 250 people skiing in the whole country (on an operating mountain that is). We couldn’t have been more stoked!
When driving towards the mountain we saw what looked like a winter vortex engulfing the peak. Which was pretty crazy because the weather on the road felt nothing like a winters day (gotta love spring skiing). The drive up was sketchy even in the Tacoma. Snow was dumping harder and harder with every bit of elevation increase.
Once we hit the slopes we were grooming through pure whiteout conditions. You couldn’t see the person 5ft ahead of you. Needless to say, we had an epic time but skied with extreme caution.
I truly wish the lodge was open to serving beer (theres nothing better than a fresh tap brewski after a day of shredding). But the lodge had so much history and epic German architecture featuring a museum inside loaded with old rustic artifacts. We were able to take a look around and read up on the history of Mt. Hood (the mountain that hosts Timberline). I’ll definitely be back to shred the mountain in its entirety and experience some solid apre ski in their castle-like lodge.
Fun Fact: Timberline Lodge is the external “Overlook Hotel” used while filming The Shining (I couldn’t get a clear shot of the lodge due to the whiteout conditions).
8 times out of 10, when I say Oregon is one of my favorite states, I get slapped with the “But doesn’t it rain there a lot?” question. The answer is simple – yes, it does. But they get just as much sunshine as they do rain, and without that rain, they wouldn’t have the epic rainforest-like features they’re known for.
Our original plan? Go to Olympic National Park in Washington. Seeing that all the national parks were closed until further notice due to the pandemic, we changed our plan of action. We headed straight to Oregon, I was a bit bummed…until we camped out the first night.
Once submerging ourselves in the woods, green moss grew to cover its surroundings. As I stepped out of the truck I planted my feet on a soft, yet sturdy ground. Vines drooping and twisting around surrounding branches. With the cleanest, freshest deep breath my lungs ever felt. Beams of sunlight casting through the small cracks of glowing green leafs. Vibrant exotic looking plants surrounding a rushing river. (Seemed as though Tarzan would come swinging through at any moment).
We’ve been fortunate enough to experience some insanely gorgeous, secluded campsites throughout our travels. I’m happy to say Oregon had some of the most jaw dropping ones (due to the copious amount of greenery) — and they were all free.
After our second failed attempt at trying to score those ski passes, Billy suggested that maybe we head straight to the coast. But I wasn’t ready to ditch our campsite yet, (a sweet spot offering campsites along the Zig-zag river. Off Highway 36, Road 39). We agreed to spend the day and stay another night (thank god, because the next day is when I scored those passes).
I found this super cool trail up the road that lead us to this amazing waterfall up the zig-zag river. Although Billy and I were bummed about the ski situation, we couldn’t help but feel elated…especially the closer we got to the waterfall, I felt almost…high.
Sure enough, we came across an educational sign explaining how the rush and energy of the waterfall actually counteracts the positive ions in the air and boosts the negative ions (positive ions are bad and fuel disease, inflammation, free radicals. Negative ions are good and fight off the bullshit).
Sure, COVID-19 put a damper on our most recent road-trip (if thats the worst we got out of the pandemic, we’re lucky). All the national parks were closed, but the national forests were free range. With that being said, we really made the best of our circumstances and found a new appreciation for primitive camping throughout the forests.
Once we hit the Oregon Coast, I was mind blown. I really didn’t know what to expect. But the fact of the matter is, it’s a continuation of the California coastline, which is undeniably gorgeous. The Oregon Coast Highway connects to the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway), people often undermine that factor.
The water was as blue as the Caribbean, sand as soft as the beaches of Tulum, and massive rock structures like the ones in Cali. But it wasn’t any of these places, it was Oregon.
Experiencing Cannon Beach on the Oregon coast was one of the most magical moments of my life. I felt like I was in a dream, it almost doesn’t feel real. The sky was light gray, illuminating a silver glow, eventually breaking up into clear blue sky’s. Wind blowing at a moderate speed, accentuating the crisp chill of the air (not the ideal beach conditions, but I wouldn’t have wanted this experience any other way). The sand was cool and soft between my toes, sprinkled with the remnants of shattered sand-dollars.
Once I took a deep gaze at the view before me, I was in absolute awe. Massive rock structures with cliff-wall backdrops in the distance. I had never seen anything like it. Sure it shares the coast with Cali, but this was different, and it made me feel different. I had to keep reminding myself, “Holy crap, this is America. This is Oregon!”, because it truly felt like I should’ve hopped on an over-priced flight abroad to acquire a view like this.
It was impossible for me to stop looking around, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to live in the moment or take pictures (the photo opportunities are abundant). Even the siegels seemed cooler than the ones on the east coast! I admired them chilling on top of Haystack Rock (the beaches most famous rock structure) vibing out. I bet the view up there is unreal. Cannon Beach really put my soul at ease.
Fun Fact: Cannon Beach is where they filmed the closing scene of The Goonies!
When did Oregon really steal a piece of my heart? On our very first road-trip back in 2016. We started in Park City Utah and headed straight to Oregon, where it all started with my first natural hot-spring experience. Hot springs are pretty much naturally occurring hot-tubs. They’re heated geothermally through the earths crust, how crazy cool is that?! We visited two in Oregon and boy, are they magical.
We wanted to go to some secluded springs, so we asked a local at a nearby dispensary. Being that the first spring we went to is pretty hidden and clearly not overrun by tourists, I won’t be dropping the name here. It’s truly a hidden local gem and I’m going to respect that. However, I will give a small description of our experience. If you someday find yourself here, it’s meant to be.
Hot Spring #1
Hitting up this first hot spring is what really jumpstarted the magical feeling of our first road-trip. When driving to these springs, we ventured out onto a dirt twisty-turny dirt road. The trees surrounding us were extremely tall and lusciously green. You can see a rushing river down below on the left, twisting with the curves of the road. We arrived to a very small dirt lot with two other cars, we had made it to the trail head.
On our hike in we came across a couple, I assumed one of the cars in the lot belonged to them. Which means the place was near empty (score). During our venture through the woods, I couldn’t get over how green everything was, like, vibrant green. Branches and vines made up doorway-like structures, I felt as if running into a leprechaun or fairy would’ve been the norm.
Once making it to the springs, my jaw dropped. Several springs all steaming, surrounded by the greenest of greenery. A group of elderly folk were just packing up once we arrived. We literally had the place to ourselves. We arrived later in the day so it wasn’t much of a surprise. The vacant space allowed us to strip down, sink into the spring of our choosing, and crack a couple cold ones.
The moons night shift was about to begin, so we enjoyed about an hour at the springs, then hiked back to the truck. Darkness grew strong on our venture back, it was kinda spooky but we goofed around, made light of it, and returned safely. We had so much fun camping that night, before we knew it, it was 3am!
Umpqua Hot Springs
The Umpqua hot springs are more well known, definitely a mix of tourists and locals. These springs aren’t as well maintained, with traces of litter scattering about (unfortunately). All that aside, the hike in was smooth, and the set up of these springs is super unique. They all make it seem like you’re hanging off a cliff with more springs trickling down below you. (Usually the higher up the springs, the hotter they are).
It’s funny, after experiencing the Umpqua springs I started seeing this location pop up on famous instagram travel pages. Easy explanation as to why there was a lot more human traffic than the first one we went to. That being said, if you find yourself in the Eugene or Bend area and you’re down for a little trip, its about a 2hr and 30min drive from each city.
Back in 2016 I wasn’t planning on writing a blog. Nowadays on road-trips I try and jot down as many details as I can to write an informative post. But back in 2016 on our first trip I journaled a little more vaguely on location details and more intricately on the emotional excitement of my first journey.
With that being said, all I can really tell you about Portland is that it’s beautiful. Full of street art, bang-tastic (amazing) breweries, dispensaries, and nature parks (like Laurelhurst). In the heart of the city theres a whole block lined with food trucks with a chill park on the water up the block to sit and enjoy your lunch. Portland is definitely a place you can enjoy with a group of friends.
Now I don’t want to discredit Eugene Oregon by describing it as a smaller version of Portland, but that’s just how I remember it. It’s a lot more homey, still super artsy and offers loads of breweries and restaurants with super chill vibes. Again, definitely a place you can enjoy with a group of friends.
I know theres a lot more to these cities than what I’ve just said, so please do your research and explore for yourself. I’ve only spent two days in Portland (a day on separate trips) and a day in Eugene and Bend, so I’m not an expert on the subject. (Although I’d definitely like to go back for a full experience).
That is Why I Love Oregon
If I can give any new American road-tripper a word of advice, it’d be “do your research, and don’t underestimate any state. Oh, and Oregon is a must“. If you’ve read thus far, I hope I’ve inspired you to plan a trip to the pacific northwest and pay Oregon a well deserved visit. Theres so much to be seen, so much to do, and so much to experience.
That, is why I love Oregon.
Nomadikally Yours, Briana