Oregon can be enjoyed during all four seasons, but the springtime is an especially magical season to take a trip to the Pacific Northwest. Mornings are often rainy in Oregon, but in the afternoons the sun pops out, so be sure to pack accordingly. We spent one spring season in Oregon and were so enamored by its beauty that we decided to stay long-term! Keep reading to see what destinations we recommend.
The Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival
You don’t have to travel all the way to the Netherlands to see rolling fields of tulips, just check out the very popular Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival in Woodburn. This family owned tulip farm is celebrating their 38th year of hosting this large festival of flowers. With over 40 acres of tulips in varying colors, as well as 200 total acres of other farm attractions, the Woodburn Tulip Festival is considered to be one of the top spring attractions in the state. An important note: If you can, be flexible with your visit by 1-2 weeks as agriculture crops are subject to unpredictable weather conditions. You can check the Field Report on their website to see the bloom status of the tulips.
The Columbia River Gorge
The Columbia River Gorge is one of the most visited places in the entire Pacific Northwest, and it’s easy to understand why. There are lots of attractions in the gorge, but most people visit for the dozens of waterfalls and for the breathtaking wildflower blooms in the spring. Some of the waterfalls are visible right from the parking lot, while others require hikes of varying lengths.
At 620 feet tall, Multnomah Falls is the most popular of all the falls in the gorge. There are several options for seeing the falls. You can view the falls from below, hike or you can walk .4 miles up to the Benson Bridge. The third option is a 2.4 mile hike to the top of the falls, with over 750 feet of elevation change. Due to the popularity of this spot, and the limited parking, you have to register for a timed entry online.
Although most tourists flock to Multnomah Falls and then return to the city, there are other lesser known, but just as beautiful, waterfalls in the gorge we like to visit, like Horsetail Falls and Latourel Falls. Many couples and families do professional photography shoots at these falls because the majestic basalt columns make you feel as though you could be standing in Iceland.
Visit Mt Hood
Mt. Hood is our favorite mountain in North America, and we think this dormant volcano deserves a visit during all four seasons. If spring has sprung and there has been a lot of snowmelt, we recommend visiting Little Zigzag Falls, near Government Camp. The easy trail to the falls is only .7 miles out and back, with minimal elevation gain. We usually plan to spend about an hour enjoying the 41-foot cascading waterfall. There are lots of places to take photos, spots to have a picnic along the way, and an opportunity to climb up and beyond the falls for the more adventurous.
If it’s still a winter wonderland up the mountain take advantage of the snow and head to Timberline Lodge. Snow sports lovers enjoy skiing the slopes around the lodge. We enjoy taking a walking tour of the massive lodge and sipping on hot chocolate while we watch the snow falling outside.
The Hood River Fruit Loop is a self-guided, 35 mile drive that brings you past local orchards, vineyards, wineries, and other types of produce stands. The loop winds through the Hood River Valley and gives you several opportunities to take in some majestic views of the volcanic Mt. Hood. The best time to visit the Fruit Loop is in the spring when the fruit tree blossoms are blooming. Our favorite stand to stop at every time we drive the Fruit Loop is The Draper Girls. They have the most delicious apples, pumpkins and gourds in the fall, a swing with a view of the mountain, and even some farm animals to feed.
Oregon has some of the best rocky and rugged coastline in all of North America. We love visiting the coast to walk on the sandy, dog-friendly beaches. We also enjoy the tidepooling that many coastal spots have to offer. The spring time is an especially good time to head to the Oregon coast because you have the best opportunity to spot migrating gray whales and orcas as they make their way from Mexico and up to Alaska for cooler feeding grounds. To celebrate and educate people about this great migration, Oregon Parks and Recreation stations more than 20 volunteers along the coastline during peak migration times to answer questions and enhance your whale-watching experience. Some of our favorite spots on the Oregon coast include Cape Arago, Newport, and Cape Perpetua. Check online for tide charts and never turn your back on the ocean because the waves can be very unpredictable.
Farmer’s Market – Portland and Vancouver
We have visited farmers markets in states all across the country, but our favorites are in the Pacific Northwest! If you find yourself in Portland on the weekend be sure to head over to the Portland Farmers Market. It’s open year-round on Saturdays, but in spring it’s fun to sample the fresh produce, admire the stunning cut flowers, and shop from local vendors and artisans.
If PDX is just a little bit too busy for you, drive across the bridge into Vancouver, WA. Their weekly market is southwest Washington’s most visited event every year. We buy our favorite sausages and cheeses from vendors at this market. It’s a diverse, family-friendly atmosphere with plenty of space to spread out in the park.
We have barely scratched the surface when it comes to all the wonderful springtime activities accessible in Oregon, but we hope this gives you a great place to start. We are passionate about this state and all the amazing outdoor recreation opportunities it has to offer. It’s been good for both our physical and mental health!
So, what are you waiting for? Your Oregon adventures are waiting!
About the authors: We are Danella and Allie of Wander Free and Queer. We live and travel full-time in our Fifth Wheel with our two dogs. We started a small crochet business on the road in 2018 and we enjoy creating products that bring visibility to the LGBTQ+ community. In our travels, we enjoy hiking, rafting and visiting National Parks.