Multnomah Falls bridge

An Architectural Bridge to the Pacific Northwest

Portland, Oregon is a launching point to the artistic retreat of the Pacific Northwest, boasting diverse restaurants, a vibrant art scene, and world-class breweries. But that’s not all.

Some of the best that Oregon has to offer sits just outside Portland’s city limits. Here are five can’t-miss opportunities to explore nature’s architecture within an easy drive of the City of Roses.

Gateway to the Pacific Northwest – Smith Rock

One of Oregon’s “Seven Wonders,” Smith Rock is known as the birthplace of sport rock climbing. It is one of the most popular climbing destinations in the country.

For those who prefer to keep their feet on horizontal ground, the breathtaking views and miles of hiking, biking, and horseback trails make a visit to Smith Rock State Park well worth it.

The park sits just over 3,000 feet above sea level and spans 650 miles.

Day passes and tent camping are available to visitors year-round. Camping may be the right choice for those visiting Smith Rock from Portland. The two sit about 140 miles apart.

Multnomah Falls

Just 30 minutes outside of Portland, Multnomah Falls stands at a majestic 611 feet of roaring, icy water.

Visitors of all fitness levels can take in the exhilarating beauty of Multnomah from both a viewing area at the base of the falls or a winding climb near a carved-out area in the rock face.

Surrounded by lush hillsides of towering trees and oversized ferns, Multnomah Falls immerses visitors in the beauty of Oregon’s natural landscapes. For the adventurous waterfall chaser, Benson Bridge sits near the top of the Multnomah Falls, at 542 feet above the ground.

Kiwanda State Natural Area

Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area, the smallest of the parks along the Three Capes Scenic Route, is a treasure trove of whale watching, hiking, kite flying, and hang gliding.

Cape Kiwanda’s steep cliffs offer some of the most breathtaking views on the West Coast. A mile-long stretch of sandy beach takes visitors to the northern point of Cape Kiwanda. Further north, the pristine beaches of Tierra Del Mar offer unobstructed views of the Cape.

One of Cape Kiwanda’s most notable attractions is an impressive formation of basalt columns that juts onto the sandstone beach. At low tide, visitors can explore the columns and the sea life that surrounds them.

Cape Kiwanda sits 95 miles east of Portland, so visitors will want to start their day of exploration early.

Mt. Hood and The Columbia River Gorge

Mt Hood, Oregon’s highest peak and lowest canyon have all the right ingredients for an unforgettable day trip.

Mt. Hood stands at an impressive 11,000 feet. It is a stately sentinel over the scenic Columbia River Gorge. The area is an 80-mile expanse of canyon land that hosts some of Oregon’s most breathtaking landmarks.

With hiking, watersports, biking, horseback riding, and a host of local breweries and restaurants along its scenic route, Oregon’s famed Hood/Gorge Region has something for everyone.

As a gateway to the Pacific Northwest, Portland offers many destinations to satisfy your taste for adventure.

Gateway to the Pacific Northwest - Oregon Coast Ocean mist
One of Portland’s best features is its close proximity to lush forests, majestic waterfalls, and stunning ocean-side views. [Photo by Nesrin Danan]

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