Here is a list of 10 trip ideas within 3 hours of Portland that will give you the vacation you need while also sticking to social distancing guidelines.
Remember, even as restrictions are lifting, it is best to continue to wear masks and practice social distancing rules. Be respectful and keep the communities you visit safe! Click here for more information on the current status of Oregon’s COVID-19 reopening.
1. Go Camping in Camp Sherman
Camp Sherman, Oregon is an unincorporated community about 2.5 hours Southeast of Portland. Camp Sherman is home to lodges for those who prefer more amenities or free dispersed campsites for those looking for a more traditional camping experience. Close to many hikes, lakes, rivers, and only 30-minutes from the mountains Three Fingered Jack and Mt Washington, Camp Sherman offers a little bit of everything. Another impressive feature of Camp Sherman is the Metolius River. Icey cold and crystal blue, the Metolius is a treat to hike, flyfish, or whitewater kayak.
2. Hike or Mountain Bike in Lowell, Oregon
Lowell offers many easy and moderate hiking paths, some of which are open to mountain bikers and horse riders. Be sure to hike along Lookout Point Lake on a clear day and stop at the dam to get a beautiful view of Diamond Peak in the distance. Dexter Reservoir is also a great option for fishing or sailing and has a recreation area for a BBQ on the shores.
©Sawaya Photography/Getty Images
3. Spend a weekend in Westfir/Oakridge
Located in the Cascades just over 2 hours from Portland, Oakridge, and its partner town Westfir are called the mountain biking capital of the Northwest. This area puts you in reach of some cool adventure locations, including Oregon’s second tallest waterfall, hot springs, the Pacific Crest Trail, and one of the purest lakes in the world. Many hikes ranging in skill level give you excellent views of the surrounding landscape as well as the opportunity to see critters such as newts, snails, and slugs. Dispersed camping is widely available as well as campgrounds and hotels.
4. Visit the ‘Crown Jewel’ of Oregon State Parks
Located 1 hour from Portland, Silver Falls State Park has reopened for daytime use and limited camping by reservation. Even if you are unable to get a campsite, Silver Falls is a great place to spend the day. Barbeque with your friends and explore the many moderate trails and multiple waterfalls of the park. Be sure to take the opportunity to walk behind a 177-foot tall waterfall. You can also reserve a guided horseback ride through the forest from Silver Falls Riding Stables starting at $75. While the park is popular, the trails are wide, which aids in social distancing.
Cannon Beach, Oregon. Photo by Laura Brown
5. Experience Coastal Wildlife at Haystack Rock
Cannon Beach, Oregon, located 1.5 hours from Portland, has begun the process of reopening. Haystack Rock is a famous Oregon landmark, and its beach was listed as one of the 21 best beaches in the world by National Geographic. While Ecola State Park is still closed, the city’s beach access points have opened up. Snap a pic of haystack rock or enjoy looking at tidepool wildlife such as sea stars, anemones, and crabs. Haystack Rock is also home to some unique birds such as tufted puffins and pelagic cormorants.
6. Have a photoshoot in the Oregon Garden
The Oregon Garden has reopened but is operating at a reduced capacity. Just a 47-minute drive from Portland this 80-acre botanical garden is an excellent place for photoshoot with friends. The Oregon Garden boasts 20 different themed gardens representing the diversity of nature in the Pacific Northwest.
7. Drink Some Wine along the Hood River Fruit Loop
The Fruit Loop is a 35-mile loop which stops at stands offering “a variety of wines, fruits, vegetables, flowers, ciders and food” in the Hood River Valley. By bike or by car, this scenic route is worth it for the views alone. At the time of this article, 8 of the 29 member stands have reopened, and even more are open if you include takeout and curbside. Check out the Hood River Fruit Loop’s website to check the hours of the stands, their opening status, and get a map of the route.
8. Take the ferry from Washington to Oregon.
The Wahkiakum County Ferry is the last ferry on the Lower Columbia River. Start by exploring the old fishing town of Cathlamet, Washington, located 1.5 hours from Portland. After enjoying the quaint town’s shops, breweries and history make your way to Puget Island to take the Wahkiakum Ferry. The ferry is an affordable way to bring you and your vehicle across the Columbia back to Oregon. The ferry has shortened its hours due to Covid, so be sure to check out their website before making your trip.
9. Explore the Coastal Town Yachats
Yachats is located almost 3 hours from Portland and is a great place to start an adventure. Visit the town’s cute shops and delicious restaurants or get out in nature hiking and viewing the gorgeous Cape Perpetua area. Also, be sure to see Thor’s Well. According to forest service, most trailheads in the Siuslaw National Forest Area have reopened for day use.
10. Enjoy the Outdoors Close to Home at Oxbow Regional Park
Oxbow regional park is just 35 minutes from Portland and is currently open to limited day use, but be mindful of crowding. This park offers many hiking trails and opportunities to kayak. When it starts getting warmer, this is also an excellent place to swim in the Sandy River Gorge.
Miles Leonard is a Budget Travel intern for Summer 2020. He is a student at the University of Iowa.