Oregons Most Scenic Road Trips
Here in Oregon you can literally sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride – if you’re not driving, that is. Oregon has more scenic byways than any other state, and for good reason, too. From the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway, to the Painted Hills off Highway 19, there is no shortage of views along these winding roads.
Cascade Mountains – Mackenzie Pass / Santiam Pass
Traversing two passes over the Cascade Mountains, the McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass Scenic Byway is best tackled in late summer and early fall. The route passes right by Black Butte and between Mount Washington and Three-Fingered Jack, heading south along the scenic McKenzie River before looping back along Oregon Route 242. Stop off at the Dee Wright Observatory for stunning views of the Three Sisters while you’re at it.
West Cascades Scenic Byway
The 215-mile West Cascades Scenic Byway takes you along the western foothills of the Cascade Mountains, following the Clackamas River to Detroit Lake, then running along the North Santiam and McKenzie Rivers before branching off onto a forest road that winds its way through the Willamette National Forest into the small towns of Westfir and Oakridge.
Historic Columbia River Highway
Once heralded as the most beautiful road in the U.S., the Historic Columbia River Highway is now mostly just a memory. But significant pieces of that memory can be found just off Interstate 84 – which supplanted the old highway – in the breathtaking Columbia River Gorge. Stop off to find dozens of waterfalls and scenic vistas from high up in the cliffs of the gorge. Soon, however, the old highway will be resurrected – in a sense – as a paved walking and bike path.
Oregon Outback Scenic Byway
the Oregon Outback Scenic Byway sure earns the comparison. In the eastern foothills of the Cascades, lush forest gives way to high desert dominated by juniper, sagebrush and bunchgrass. Fort Rock is the standout landmark on the byway, but Summer Lake, Goose Lake and the Warner Mountains (which stretch into northern California) round out the road trip.
Mount Hood Scenic Byway
To drive the Mount Hood Scenic Byway, start at either Hood River or Troutdale and use U.S. Route 26 through Government Camp and Oregon Route 35 north to connect back to the Columbia River. Be sure to stop off at Timberline Lodge (officially part of the byway) and consider taking on the Historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway to make a full loop.
Journey Through Time Scenic Byway
The Journey Through Time Scenic Byway is a tour through Oregon history – both natural and human. In addition to the natural wonders, the trip passes by ghost towns, logging operations and the Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site, one of the Pacific Northwest’s best museums showcasing local Asian-American culture.
Blue Mountain Scenic Byway
Touring one of Oregon’s more overlooked mountain ranges, the Blue Mountain Scenic Byway rolls by the pastoral hills south of the Columbia River, past Heppener (where you should get gas) and through the Umatilla National Forest to Granite. There, you can hook up with the Elkhorn Drive Scenic Byway, which makes a full loop through Baker City.
Cascade Lake Scenic Byway
A relatively short 66-mile journey along the Cascade Lake Scenic Byway takes you past a number of beautiful alpine lakes in the central Oregon Cascades. For this trip, bypass popular Paulina Lake at the Newberry Volcano in favor of the bigger lakes west of Bend. With views of Mount Bachelor and Broken Top, the road takes you past Sparks Lake, Devils Lake, Elk Lake, Little Lava Lake and more.
Pacific Coast Scenic Byway
One coast, one highway, one spectacular sight after another. Running the length of U.S. Route 101 in Oregon, the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway starts in Astoria and ends south of Brookings, passing by natural wonders galore: Tillamook Rock, Ecola State Park, Cape Perpetua, the Oregon Dunes, Arch Rock, Harris Beach and so much more. Consider pairing it with a tour of the Oregon coast’s 11 lighthouses.
Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byways
Running from Crater Lake through Klamath Falls into northern California, the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway passes by evidence of eons of volcanic activity, from eruptions and lava flows to cinder cones and plains of pumice. The byway includes a complete tour of Crater Lake National Park, circling the 33-mile Rim Drive.
Hells Canyon Scenic Byway
Stare into Hells Canyon, the deepest canyon in North America at 7,993 feet deep (the Grand Canyon is only 6,093 feet deep), along the snaking Hells Canyon Scenic Byway that runs between La Grande and Baker City. While Hells Canyon gets the name of the route, the Wallowa Mountains and town of Joseph are equally gorgeous, worth a few side trips on your way.
|HIGH 57 °F||14 °C|
|LOW  30 °F||–1 °C|
|HIGH 81 °F||27 °C|
|LOW  48 °F||09 °C|
|HIGH 62 °F||17 °C|
|LOW  32 °F||00 °C|
|HIGH 40 °F||17 °C|
|LOW  23 °F||–5 °C|