Oregon has some of the most varied and beautiful landscapes in the United States. The Pacific Coast, especially in the Pacific Northwest, has a unique charm not found in other American coastal areas. Portland, specifically the Willamette Valley, is just beautiful in its own right, framed by two mountain ranges and perfected by low-lying valleys filled with farms and vineyards. As more and more people make Oregon their home, seeing the beauty of this gorgeous state should be mandatory. What’s a better way to see the majestic grandeur of the Pacific Northwest than by car? Here are five scenic byways and scenic drives within a short drive of the Portland metropolitan area that make a great day trip.
Oregon is known for its wine country. Whether it’s the Willamette Valley, which produces award-winning Pinot Noir and a number of dry white wines, or Southern Oregon, known for its bolder reds, like Sangiovese, Syrah, and Tempranillo, Oregon’s wine country should not be missed. The Vineyard and Valley Tour Route provides 60 miles of roads that take you through Washington County’s agricultural bounty. Starting just outside of Helvetia, and ending in Sherwood, the Vineyard and Valley Tour Route is an excellent way to see the beauty we have right here in the Tualatin Valley.
Beginning in Woodburn and ending slightly south of Salem, the Silver Falls Tour Route offers a pleasantly beautiful alternative to I-5. While passing through iconic small towns like Mt. Angel (known throughout the Portland area for its annual Oktoberfest celebration), you’ll also pass the pristine beauty that is Silver Falls State Park, home to ten waterfalls in the Silver Falls Canyon. You’ll also pass a number of covered bridges and the town of Sublimity, known for its historic downtown. The best times to do this 55-mile route are in the spring, when the wildflowers are just starting to pop up, or in the fall, when the trees take on the gorgeous colors of the season.
A symbol of Portland and the Pacific Northwest, Mt. Hood cannot be missed by Portlanders and Oregonians alike. Sitting in the Cascade Range, the Mt. Hood Scenic Byway provides 105 miles of beauty for those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of every day life. Beginning in Troutdale and winding its way past the many small mountain towns that dot the Cascades, the trail ends at Hood River, perfect for hopping on the Historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway.
Located just outside of the Portland area, the Historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway provides a gorgeous and breathtaking drive along the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge. Just outside Troutdale you pass such wonders as Crown Point, Multnomah Falls, and Bonneville Dam; and you get the pleasure of knowing that you’re possibly looking at some of the same trees and foliage Lewis and Clark viewed long ago.
Starting in Estacada, this 215-mile drive takes you past some of Oregon’s most beautiful scenery in the West Cascades. Viewing some of the area’s most beautiful lakes, rivers, and waterfalls, the West Cascades Scenic Byway gives you a sense of what Oregonians of past experienced before the days of modern technology.
Oregon has 26 scenic drives that will take you all over this great state. Whether you’re looking to see the beauty of the Willamette Valley or experience the arid climate of the high desert in Central Oregon or even looking to discover the striking scenes and topography of Eastern Oregon and Hells Canyon, there is a drive waiting for you.