Oregon in Pictures: 20 Beautiful Places to Photograph

Written by Brad Lane
Jul 3, 2019

A postcard-worthy Pacific Northwest destination, the state of Oregon has a wide variety of landscapes and just as many activities to offer. Whether it's windsurfing at Hood River or tide pool exploring at Cannon Beach, Oregon provides eye-catching attractions, including active volcanoes, wild rivers, and some of the best rock climbing in the region. Waterfalls also abound in Oregon, as do rose gardens and ancient calderas, and no matter the size of the frame, no picture could encompass the entire beauty found in this single state.

1. Crater Lake

Crater Lake

An ancient caldera filled by icy, blue rainwater and snowmelt, Crater Lake draws artists, photographers, and anyone who enjoys a good view throughout the year. The summertime is the perfect season to catch a ferry to Wizard Island in the center of Crater Lake, and cross-country skiers and snowshoers navigate the unplowed Rim Road for solitude and views come winter.

2. Multnomah Falls, Columbia River Gorge

Multnomah Falls

An excellent example of the water features found in the Columbia River Gorge, Multnomah Falls is a 620-foot, two-tier waterfall that gets a lot of attention. Located near Hood River, the falls are easily accessible by vehicle, and ample pathways lead around them for multiple vantage points. The Multnomah Falls Lodge at the base is a great place to grab a snack and enjoy the view.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Hood River

3. Cape Perpetua Scenic Area

View from Cape Perpetua Scenic Area | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Named by Captain James Cook in 1778, Cape Perpetua Scenic Area provides the highest vantage point of the rugged Oregon coast accessible by car. The area is within the Siuslaw National Forest, and it's a prominent stop along the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway and Oregon Coast Trail. The views from the top of Cape Perpetua are stunning, and the hiking trails steep.

4. Mount Hood

Trillium Lake and Mount Hood

Surrounded by a stunning national forest of its own name, Mount Hood is the tallest mountain in Oregon and a remarkable sight to see. Prepared backpackers can experience every angle of the mountain via the rugged 40-mile Timberline Trail that circumnavigates the peak, and anyone can enjoy the reflective nature of nearby Trillium Lake.

5. Smith Rock State Park

Smith Rock State Park

Jutting from the eastern Oregon high desert landscape, Smith Rock State Park presents some of the best rock climbing in the country. Alongside thousands of bolted climbing routes, stunning hiking trails, like the Misery Ridge Loop, lead to unparalleled views of this vertical environment. This is a year-round destination in the high desert, not far from Bend, but spring and fall are often considered the best time to visit Smith Rock State Park.

6. Three Sisters Wilderness

Three Sisters Wilderness

Within the Willamette National Forest of central Oregon, the colorful Three Sisters Wilderness surrounds its namesake peaks. Popular for mountain climbers, long-distance hikers, and photography enthusiasts, the mountains are prominently in view from nearly every angle in the forest. For added adventure, the country-spanning Pacific Crest Trail makes its way through the area on its journey between Mexico and Canada.

7. International Rose Test Garden

International Rose Test Garden

Among the many downtown Portland attractions in Washington Park, the International Rose Test Garden is perhaps the most well documented. Displaying more than 10,000 rose bushes in over 600 varieties, something new is in bloom with every visit. Guests to the Rose Garden are encouraged to wander the grounds on their own, with free daily tours also available.

Accommodation: Best Places to Stay in Portland

8. Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor

Natural Bridges

On the scenic southern section of the Oregon coast, the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor is named after one of the first Oregon Parks superintendents. The area displays some of the most stunning natural beauty on this side of the continent. A particularly popular and photogenic spot to see is Natural Bridges Cove, featuring great sight lines and big rock formations.

9. Salem State Capitol

The Oregon State Capitol building in Salem

With a gilded pioneer overlooking the surrounding capital city, every angle of the state capitol building in Salem catches the eye. The surrounding, manicured Oregon Capitol State Park also deserves a moment of pause, particularly at the historical plaques that line the pathways. Within the State Capitol, ornate interiors and colorful murals also catch the eye.

10. Haystack Rock

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach

Jutting offshore of stunning Cannon Beach in northern Oregon, Haystack Rock is one of numerous sea stacks found on this side of the country. A dramatic backdrop of the sprawling beach, and nesting site for seabirds including colorful tufted puffins, Haystack Rock sets the scene for this idyllic beachfront and friendly community.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Cannon Beach

11. Pittock Mansion

Pittock Mansion

As the largest urban park in the nation, Forest Park of Portland has a lot of treasures to explore. Pittock Mansion ranks as a top highlight of Forest Park, once belonging to Portland pioneers, Henry and Georgiana Pittock, and now maintained by the city for scenic enjoyment and tours. Alongside an ornate facade, the backyard of the mansion opens to an unbeatable view of the city.

12. Astoria

View from the Astoria Column

On the far northwest corner of Oregon, bordering both the Columbia River and Pacific Ocean, the seaside town of Astoria provides one stunning view after the other. Walking the charming Astoria Riverwalk or riding the Riverfront Trolley is always a guaranteed scenic trip, and some of the best views can be seen from the muraled Astoria Column, atop a high bluff overlooking the city.

13. Newberry Volcanic Monument

Newberry Caldera from Paulina Peak

Within the Deschutes National Forest and lava lands of central Oregon, Newberry Volcanic Monument presents a landscape of cinder cones, obsidian flows, and pristine water in an ancient caldera. A great way to get some perspective on the rugged environment is atop the monument's tallest peak, Paulina Peak, which provides a great view of it all. This beautiful landscape lies just outside of Bend.

14. Seaside Promenade

Seaside Promenade

In the historic city of Seaside on the northern Oregon Coast, the Seaside "Prom" provides a fun pedestrian path next to the beach and ocean, accessing the family-friendly downtown district of Seaside. A real point of interest on the Promenade includes the Seaside Turnaround, complete with a large bronze statue of Lewis and Clark to commemorate their time spent on the coast.

15. Bend

Mt. Bachelor

Bend is an incredibly scenic city on the Deschutes River, and one of the many reasons it's becoming increasingly popular each year is the immediate access to the wild wonders that surround the city. Community members can hit the waves of the Bend Whitewater Park in no time, and the entire Deschutes National Forest is the city's backyard, including the prominent Mt. Bachelor.

16. Hood River Valley

Hood River Valley with Mt. Hood in the background

South of the charming city of Hood River, a windsurfing capital of the nation, Hood River Valley is a fertile agricultural range filled with colorful fruits and mountain views. Numerous U-pick opportunities abound in this farming region, as well as chances to enjoy the fresh splendors with some sunshine and rolling hills.

17. Riverfront Park

Bridge at Riverfront Park

In the state capital of Salem, this stunning open space borders the Willamette River and is a popular spot for the community to gather. The park features live music and festival events throughout the summer, and anytime of the year is appealing to navigate the bike paths that tour the park, passing by colorful art installations and a family-friendly carousel.

18. Silver Falls

South Falls at Silver Falls State Park

Near the town of Sublimity, Silver Falls State Park has one of the densest concentration of waterfalls in the state. Visitors to this family-favorite state park can hop on the aptly named Trail of 10 Falls and enjoy a path that navigates behind some of the water features, including the park's largest waterfall, the 177-foot South Falls.

19. Hells Canyon

Hells Canyon

In the far northeast corner of the state bordering Idaho, Hells Canyon was formed by the scenic Snake River to become the deepest river canyon in the nation. Spectacular sights and wild animals are spotted in nearly every direction looking down the canyon. For rafting and kayaking enthusiasts, the Snake River within Hells Canyon features world-class white water rapids.

20. Oregon Dunes

Oregon Dunes

One of the largest tracts of temperate coastal sand dunes in the world, this unique environment on the central Oregon coast is an ever-changing landscape full of opportunity to explore. Within the Siuslaw National Forest, the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area draws OHV riders, hikers, and photographers to capture the fun of exploring the sandy environment.

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