It's no secret that Oregon's natural beauty is made for Instagram. From the Oregon Coast to Mt. Hood, and the forests in between, it's not hard to get a great picture. We've compiled a list of the ten best places in the state to capture the perfect Instagram.
A wise man once told me Trillium Lake looks almost "as if God put it there on purpose." God didn't do it, but the Department of Fish and Wildlife could not have come up with a better location when in 1960 they constructed the dam that formed the lake. Just a short drive off the highway (or snowshoe - the road closes in the winter), Trillium Lake is as accessible as it is gorgeous. Try going at sunrise for an incredible light show on the mountain's east flank, and to avoid the crowds that often populate the area on summer weekends.
Bald Mountain Viewpoint
An offshoot of the legendary Pacific Crest Trail, Bald Mountain is a difficult to find, but very manageable hike. Overlooking Mt. Hood's western glaciers, as well as the raging Muddy Fork, it's far more common to see deer and wildlife than other people, despite its proximity to Portland.
Tucked away in the nether reaches of Oregon's Cascade Mountains, Tamolitch Pool is like nowhere else on Earth. Surrounded by old growth forests, massive ferns and the idyllic McKenzie River, the pool appears seemingly out of nowhere. Springing up from an ancient lava flow after the river traversed the previous 3 miles entirely underground. As gorgeous as it is, don't jump! The pool stays a frigid 38 degrees year-round, and has been the location of tragedies involving unassuming tourists.
Want to learn more about Tamolitch Pool? Check out our destination profile.
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Terwilliger Hot Springs
Just down the road from Tamolitch Pool, Terwilliger Hot Springs comes bubbling out of the hillside above Cougar Reservoir at a comfortable 112 degrees. Unlike most other hot springs in Oregon, Terwilliger is an entirely public facility, and the pools are constructed only of stacked boulders. The springs can be crowded on weekends, so we suggest going on the morning or on a weekday to enjoy the location in peace. And like most natural hot springs in the woods - clothing is optional.
Located in what might best be described as the middle of nowhere, Toketee Falls might be best known not for the waterfall itself, but the stunning basalt ampitheater framing the falls. Getting to the falls is only a short hike from the parking lot, but the trail leads to a viewing platform high up on the hillside. Ambitious photo-seekers have been known to scamper down the muddy hill to the base of the waterfall, from where spectacular, face-on pictures can be snapped. While in the area, check out Umpqua Hot Springs, and Watson Falls - the 3rd tallest waterfall in Oregon.
Want to learn more about Toketee Falls? Check out our destination profile.
Perhaps no natural site in the entire Northwest is better known than Multnomah Falls. The tallest waterfall in the state, and with a gorgeous arch bridge crossing halfway up the cliff, Multnomah Falls has long been a photographers' dream. Located just off Interestate 84 and very close to Portland, Multnomah Falls is easy to find and highly photogenic. In fall, the hillside's deciduous trees turn gold, and during winter cold snaps, the Falls have been known to freeze entirely, creating a stunning scene.
Oregon's only National Park, Crater Lake is the result of Mt. Mazama's explosive volcanic eruption approximately 8,000 years ago. The eruption, roughly 42 times more powerful than Mt. St. Helens' 1980 eruption, produced a circular caldera from which rain and snow cannot escape, forming a natural lake nearly 2,000 feet deep. With no rivers flowing into it and no nearby pollution sources, Crater Lake has some of the purest water in the world. In a 1997 test, scientists were able to see all the way to the bottom at a depth of 175 feet. Crater Lake's dark blue color is the product of the lake's depth and clarity.
Samuel Boardman State Park
What was once nearly a National Park itself, Samuel Boardman State Scenic Corridor is a collection of short hikes paralleling Highway 101. The park's rugged coastline features numerous arches, coves and sea stacks, many of which are lined with fir trees. The Natural Bridges, pictured below, are a cluster of rock arches that form a hidden cove. For a challenge, try locating the aptly named Secret Beach, which is only accessible at low tide.
Cape Kiwanda at Pacific City
Home to one of the only beaches in Oregon on which cars are allowed to drive, Pacific City is an excellent spot for camping, exploring, and drinking at the beachside Pelican Brewery. Cape Kiwanda is a sandstone bluff jutting far out into the Pacific, featuring impressive dunes, dynamic tide pools and a perfect view of nearby Haystack Rock. Most of the Cape is technically off-limits, after a spate of accidents in recent years. Adventure Cascadia cannot recommend exploring the restricted area. But with how much Cape Kiwanda has to offer, staying on the beaten path should be more than sufficient.
The Painted Hills
Located in Central Oregon's John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, the Painted Hills look like something out of this world. Layers of stratified soil give the Hills their red, yellow and black hues. Various trails criss-cross the area, and a boardwalk to the Painted Cove is an excellent location for an Instagram.