Top 10 Oregon Road Trips


Kleya Dhenin

Bandon Dunes at Sunset

Kleya Dhenin, Reporter

Oregon is full of scenic wonders. From the Oregon Coast to the deserts of the East, the state is full of things to do and places to see. Here is a list of the top ten summer road trip locations;

The Tulip Festival - Courtesy of The Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm
The Tulip Festival – Courtesy of The Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm


1. The Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm – 264 Miles

In Woodburn, Oregon, beyond the outlet mall and the Disney Store, lies a well hidden secret. The Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm is the largest bulb farm in the Northwest. With 40 acres of tulip and daffodils in bloom, they hold tulip festivals throughout the spring. The owners, Ross and Dorothy Iverson, began the family farm in 1950 and have continued to expand the farm to get their six children through college. The Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm is located at 33814 S Meridian Rd, Woodburn, Oregon.

Beach Loop Bluff at Sunset
Kleya Dhenin
Beach Loop Bluff at Sunset


2. Bandon – 178 Miles

Bandon has an old town feel, from the crab shacks to Cranberry Sweets. Interestingly enough, the Bandon Fish Market has the best chicken strips in six counties, according to an unnamed source. Additionally, the fish is fresh and the menu is diverse. The outskirts of Bandon features the Bandon Dunes Golf Course, as well as four other premier courses. The beaches of Bandon demonstrate unparalleled beauty. For those who can never pass up a challenge, try to locate the elephant that gives Elephant Rock its name. As an added bonus, the drive to Bandon is riddled with beautiful little places to stop, namely Humbug Mountain State Park.

Sunrise at Crater Lake - Courtesy of the National Parks Service
David Grimes
Sunrise at Crater Lake – Courtesy of the National Parks Service




3. Crater Lake – 77 Miles

The most cliche location is one of the most beautiful. Crater Lake National Park is just 77 miles northeast of Ashland, making it a great location for a day trip with friends or family. Crater Lake offers many diverse hiking locations, including a section of the Pacific Crest Trail. Opportunities are also available to hike to the water using the Cleetwood Trail to go for a dip in the crater. Also, during late June, snow plows clear the rim and the Rim Drive starts to open up. This is open to walkers, cyclists, and automobiles. The rim is fully open from July to October or November. Perhaps the most interesting thing that the park offers is boat tours of the active volcano.

Smith Rock in Central Oregon
Tim Kiesling
Smith Rock in Central Oregon


4. Smith Rock State Park – 210 miles

Smith Rock is a place for adventurers and sightseers alike. The park offers several thousand climbing routes, more than one thousand of which are bolted routes. Smith Rock is considered the birthplace of modern American climbing and offers four different types of climbing for all difficulty levels: sport climbing, traditional climbing, multi-pitch climbing and bouldering. There are also miles of hiking and mountain biking trails. Throughout the canyon resides golden eagles, prairie falcons, mule deer, river otters and beavers. In addition to the wonderful opportunities for thrillseekers, Smith Rock State Park, in Terrebonne, houses the Crooked River and offers views of the volcanic peaks of the Cascade Range.

Alvord Desert at Sunrise - Marli Miller Photography,
Marli Miller
Alvord Desert at Sunrise – Marli Miller Photography,


5. Alvord Desert – 320 Miles

The Alvord Desert falls southeast of the Steens Mountains, in Harney County. The desert itself is a 12 by 7 mile dry lake bed, separated from the ocean by the Coast Range and the Cascade Mountains. This is one of the largest playas in Oregon. Although accessible year round, conditions favor from July through November. This location is optimal for a retreat featuring no cellular service or designated restroom facilities. If venturing to the Alvord Desert Playa, be sure to bring plenty food and water and plan on a barren, open-air adventure. The Playa is a destination for land sailing, glider flying and camping, as well as home to a privately owned, no-fee hotspring.

Millers Chapel - Courtesy of the National Parks Service
Millers Chapel – Courtesy of the National Parks Service


6. The Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve – 89 Miles

The Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve is located outside of Cave Junction. About a two hour drive from Ashland, the Caves offer tours, hiking and lodging. Although self guided tours are not available, the monument offers group tours at a relatively low cost. In the summer, the Oregon Caves has three available tours: the General Cave Tour, Off Trail Cave Tours and Candlelight Cave Tours. Entry to the park is free which allows access to the four hiking trails and the Chateau. There is much hype surrounding the Chateau, including a particularly haunting story about room 310.

Seaside from Tillamook Head Trail
Kleya Dhenin
Seaside from Tillamook Head Trail


7. Seaside – 356 Miles

A little past Portland lies a hidden treasure, Seaside. The town gets its name from the historic Seaside House, a summer resort built in the 1870s by railroad superstar Benjamin Holladay. Seaside also marks the end of the trail for Lewis and Clark, where in 1806 a group of men from the expedition began a salt-making cairn. Seaside hosts an annual Fourth of July event which includes a parade, outdoor concerts and one of the largest fireworks shows on the West Coast. If this isn’t enough, Seaside is the finish line for the Hood to Coast Relay, held annually on the weekend before Labor Day. The town is also only a short drive away from Astoria which is home to a childhood favorite, The Goonies. Much of the film was made in Astoria and the historic landmarks still stand today. Seaside also features many running and hiking trails, great food and the Seaside Aquarium.

Center Stage
Ray Broomall
Center Stage


8. The Britt Festival – 15 Miles

The Britt Music and Arts Festival, in Jacksonville, is the Pacific Northwest’s premier summer outdoor performing arts festival. Britt offers dozens of diverse summer concerts, from classical to country. The amphitheater is a naturally formed venue, often referred to as “The Hill.” The Hill is home to many different people, ranging from the typical teenager taking a selfie with the stage in the background to the dreaded hippie moving their hips to the beat. Not only does Britt offer an array of performances but also an amazing volunteer opportunity. Since Britt is a non-profit, they rely on the help of volunteers to make the shows function. These volunteers do minimal work and get to enjoy the shows for free.

Unnamed Lake, Snow Lakes Trail
Michael McCullough
Unnamed Lake, Snow Lakes Trail


9. Snow Lakes Trail – 80 Miles

Stemming from the Sky Lakes Trail, the Snow Lakes Trail begins at an elevation of 5,800 ft. The route starts out with a gradual ascent upon the northern slopes of the Sky Lakes Basin. This trail crosses wildflower strewn meadows while gaining altitude past the Snow Lakes group. After this gradual beginning, the trail climbers up rock outcrops and steep windswept ridges. In just one mile, hikers will climb 1,000 feet then join the Pacific Crest Trail. The trail is accessible from July through October.


Henry V, Oregon Shakespeare Festival 2012 Ashland, 2012 © T Charles Erickson
Henry V, Oregon Shakespeare Festival 2012
Ashland, 2012
© T Charles Erickson


10. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival – Less than one mile

Merely miles from any given home in Ashland, OSF is a gem of Southern Oregon. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival offers 11 plays, three of which are Shakespeare. These plays include Much Ado About Nothing, Pericles, Antony and Cleopatra, Fingersmith, Guys and Dolls, The Count of Monte Cristo, Sweat, The Happiest Song Plays Last, Head Over Heels, Long Day’s Journey into Night, and Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land. Notably, OSF features the US Premiere of Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land by Stan Lai. Before April, this show had only been performed in China. OSF has flown in the actors and directors to make the show run smoothly. On top of this, OSF brings in many high quality actors, shows, and behind-the-scenes staff. Most shows go into October but some extend into November.