Oregon is one of the more unique states in our country. Portland is weird and wonderful and absolutely worth a visit, but there are countless beautiful parks, waterfalls, coastlines to explore. The state has a unique film history as well with cult classics like “Animal House” and “The Goonies” both taking place in parts of Oregon. Here’s a recap of our three days in Oregon.
Travel Oregon Day 1: Silver Falls State Park, Trillium Lake, Columbia River Highway
Our first night was spent in a cabin at Silver Falls State Park. Lights and heat, but no plugs, no internet and no cell phone service. For some this would have felt like Nirvana. We drove in late the night before from the airport under the cover of night. We really had no idea what or where we were. My alarm went off at 4am, which was 6am my time. After going to the bathroom I began to take pictures and scout the area.
Silver Falls hides you under giant Douglas Fir trees. Our goal was to start at 6am on the trail of ten falls and then head to our next stop. Sadly that wasn’t possible since the trails weren’t open yet, so instead we went to the lookout for the South and North Falls and headed off to our next stop. It would be easy to spend a week in Silver Falls and never grow bored or tired of the scenery.
Next we headed up Mount Hood to Trillium Lake. Trillium Lake was our second favorite place on the entire trip. It’s a good day trip, it would be hard to spend much more than a day here. The view of Mount Hood is incredible and the lake is incredibly peaceful and calm. The lake is surrounded by a trail and dense forest. Fishing is permitted though we did not cast a line.
Now for the waterfalls, 6 more to go with the two we had already seen. The longest walk was the first hike, Wahclella Falls. Not a difficult walk but nearly three miles. These were our favorite falls, the path was steady with people, but not crowded. While the rest of the falls we visited all had trails, you could see almost all of them from the road. Starting with Horsetail Falls. Next, possibly the most famous falls were Multnomah Falls. A beautiful waterfall, but holy cow is it well known. By far the busiest place we visited! This was also visible from the road. As you navigate the Columbia River Highway you will stumble across no less than six falls, most don’t have much of a walk. You’ll also come to an incredible viewpoint at the Vista House.
Travel Oregon Day 2: Eugene and the University of Oregon
The theme of our second day was GO DUCKS! We traveled two hours south of Portland to Eugene, where we were fortunate enough to be able to attend both the Ducks’ Spring Football game and a baseball game against Stanford. The University of Oregon has several compelling reasons to visit. The Oregon Ducks Football team has one of the best football teams in college football and the high octane brand of football has been redefined in Eugene, if you’re lucky enough to see them first hand you understand what all the hoopla is about. Recently the Ducks added baseball to the list of competitive sports. Known most for it’s track team, football and basketball have gained attention recently and baseball will surely start to make noise nationally. The school also has a remarkably decorated dance team.
If that wasn’t enough, look around the campus as you stroll through the campus. You will likely recognize buildings and scenery. The cult hit “Animal House” was filmed on and around the campus of the University of Oregon. While you can’t visit the exterior of the fraternity house itself, the inside was shot at the Sigma Nu house. They are apparently friendly with people wanting to visit, though I’ve never gone myself.
Also look around for Simpson’s references in Eugene. Nearby Springfield is “The Springfield.” If you don’t believe me, Simpson’s creator Matt Groening grew up in Portland and if you look around Portland, Eugene and Springfield you’ll see things that clearly resemble famous parts of the show. Find the Pioneer statue on the U of O campus and tell me you disagree.
We mad the difficult hike up Spencer Butte during the rest of our time in Eugene. Difficult because they haven’t finished the path yet, but while the climb was difficult, the view is spectacular. From Spencer Butte you’ll see a panoramic view of the city and surrounding mountains as well as a view of Autzen Stadium from a distance. If you’re lucky you may spot a bald eagle on the butte, there are nests visible from the top.
Before heading back to Portland we stopped at Voodoo Doughnuts in Eugene. After waiting 15 minutes in line we got to see what all the excitement was about. Delicious doughnuts that didn’t disappoint, and stopping in Eugene saved us a long wait in Portland for the same doughnuts.
Travel Oregon Day 3: The Goonies
I’ve always wanted to make my way to Cannon Beach, the sight of One-Eyed Willy’s sail into the sunset at the end of Goonies, but in my previous trips to Oregon I haven’t had the time. Visiting Oregon just a month shy of the movie’s 30 year anniversary meant this was the time to go! Instead of just visiting Cannon Beach I decided I’d go to Astoria as well,.
Visiting Mikey’s house and the Boondocks in Astoria was interesting. You are directed to park in front of the elementary school, the same school Arnold Schwarzenegger worked as “Kindergarten Cop.” After a brief walk you come to a sign that encourages you to walk up, but not drive. Then there you are at Mikey’s house. A small box encourages donations. The interesting thing, there was a steady stream of people going to and from the house. Next we drove into town where we were able to see the Museum that Mikey’s dad worked at (The Flavel House) and the County Jail which now serves as an Oregon Movie Museum.
Astoria is also the home of Fort Stevens and Fort Clatstop. Fort Clatstop served as a winter encampment for the Corps of Discovery. Fort Stevens was a military fort that has been converted into a state park. Offering a bunch of lodging options as well as numerous hiking and biking trails and a ghost town (the abandoned fort itself).
Next was Cannon Beach and Ecola State Park. This was without a doubt our favorite part of the entire trip. Ecola State Park offers a brilliant view of the beach down below, including the famous Haystack Rock. The park is littered with picnic tables and open fields. From here you can walk to Indian Beach, which was used in the Twilight movies (or so I’m told).
Cannon Beach was an awesome beach town, the majority of which had closed by the time we made it to the town. We parked our car and headed for the beach to watch the sunset. The beautiful colors reflecting off the sea and rocks made for a wonderful conclusion to three days that were packed with many different adventures.
We were able to navigate the many miles, twists, turns and terrains in our Mitsubishi Outlander thanks to Drive STI. This was the perfect vehicle in terms of size and ability for our trip.
If you haven’t visited Oregon ever and you’re planning a trip make sure you take time away from Portland. An amazing city with tons to offer Portland can fill your entire trip by itself, but the thing that makes Oregon special is the amazing scenery you’re never far from!