14 Incredible Things to Do During Spring in Oregon

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Spring can be a weird time in the Pacific Northwest, with intermittent gloomy weather and the promise of the glorious summer, just a few short months in the future. Luckily, though, there’s tons of amazing things to do in the spring in Oregon, from shredding the slopes on the last bits of snow to stopping to smell the springtime flowers. Here’s 14 incredible things to do in the spring in Oregon.

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Women waking towards a waterfall along the Trail of Ten Falls in Silver Falls State Park in Oregon
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What’s Oregon in Spring like?

Regardless of where you are in the United States, spring is usually kind of a mixed bag- April showers bring May flowers and all that jazz. But that can ring especially true during spring in Oregon, which offers quite a diverse array of climates and landscapes in its massive footprint (almost 100,000 square miles!), from craggy coastline and rainforests to towering mountains and high desert. 

Along its coastline and the western portion of the state, you’re likely to run into moody, low-hanging clouds and cool weather, whereas you’ll mostly find sunny days and temperatures up into the 70s in the eastern portions of the state. You can also find snowy peaks, rushing waterfalls, fields of wildflowers- essentially, anything and everything that you’re looking for.

Couple sitting around a campfire on Cannon Beach in Oregon

Which is the perfect segway on how to make the most of the spring in Oregon!

Things to Do in the Spring in Oregon

1. Check out a tulip festival

Every year, from the middle of March through the beginning of May, you can stroll through 40 acres of colorful tulips at the biggest tulip festival in Oregon, the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival. Not only can you stroll through thousands and thousands of tulips at this event, but, if you visit on a clear day, you’ll also get incredible views of Mount Hood to boot.

The festival is creeping up on its fourth decade around the block and gets bigger and better every year.

Tulips at a tulip festival in the Pacific Northwest

If you want to avoid the crowds, be sure to head here on a weekday or as soon as the farm opens to avoid having to dodge thousands of TikTokers as they get that glorious spring content. On the other hand, if you want to enjoy it in all of its tulip-y glory, hit the festival on the weekend, when you can find local craft vendors, wooden shoe-making demonstrations, and an old steam tractor, driving through the tulip fields. 

2. Go on a waterfall hike.

If you haven’t heard, parts of the Pacific Northwest can be quite rainy, especially in the springtime. And while this may occasionally put a damper on the adventures of my fellow outdoor lovers, it also means that Oregon’s many waterfalls, with the help of the springtime snowmelt, will be rushing at their peak volume!

Beyond the waterfalls being at their most epic in the springtime, you’ll also have the benefit of avoiding the crowds that clog most hiking trails during the busy summer months.

Couple standing in front of a waterfall along Trail of Ten Falls in Silver Falls State Park in Oregon

There’s over 230 waterfalls sprinkled all over the state, so regardless of where you’re located, there’s a good chance you’re not too far from one. Some of my favorite waterfall hikes in Oregon are:

  • Trail of Ten Falls (located in Sublimity): Taking you past (you guessed it!) ten waterfalls, four of which you can actually walk behind!
    And while you’re in the area, be sure to also check out Abiqua Falls, which looks like it would be more appropriate in Iceland than the Pacific Northwest!
  • Drift Creek Falls (located in Otis): This stunning trail takes you through an old-growth forest, across one of Oregon’s longest suspension bridges, and to the base of a 66-foot waterfall, spilling over a basalt cliffside. 
  • Ramona Falls (located in Rhododendron): One of the most stunning waterfalls in Oregon, with dozens of streams rushing down a rocky cliffside and bonus views of Mount Hood and rhododendrons throughout the trail.
    Because of this hike’s elevation, it’s likely best saved for late April or even May. You’ll also need to cross a river, which may be sketchy depending on the water level, so be sure to check recent trail reports before you head to the trailhead.
Couple walking in front of Ramona Falls in Oregon

3. Hit up a winery or two.

Oregon is the United States’ fifth largest producer of wine, with the majority coming from the Willamette Valley. The region is perfect for cool-weather grapes, thanks to its temperate and wet winters and moderate summers. Because of its ideal growing conditions, you’ll find an eye-popping 500 wineries here, which mostly specialize in pinot noir, along with pinot gris, sauvignon blanc, and syrah, to name a few. 

Spring is a particularly lovely time to visit the Willamette Valley- the flowers are in bloom, the vines are flourishing, and you’ll likely see some cute baby animal friends frolicking in its pastures. Plus, if you schedule your visit for around May, you may just be able to sample the season’s very first vintages.

View of vineyards in the Williamette Valley of Oregon

A few of the best wineries in the Willamette Valley include Chehalem Winery, which offers a fun popcorn and wine pairing; Soter Vineyard, a certified biodynamic winery that offers a tasting for just $10 (one of the cheapest in the valley); or Domaine Drouhin Winery, with arguably one of the best patios.

You can either plan your own tour (please remember to drive responsibly!) or, if you want to make the wise choice of having a built-in DD, go on an organized tour, like this tour from Portland (that includes lunch!) or this half-day tour from Portland, with three winery stops handpicked by your guide.

4. See the cherry blossoms.

Every spring, from approximately mid-March to early April, cherry blossom trees in Portland bloom to life, offering a burst of cheery color and the promise of warmer, longer days ahead.

Cherry blossom trees in the Portland Japanese Garden Portland, Oregon in spring

One of the best places to see cherry blossoms in Portland in spring is the Japanese American Historical plaza in Tom McCall Waterfront Park (located here), with 100 Akebono cherry trees that were gifted to the city from the Japanese Grain Importers Association over three decades ago. 

Another great spot is the Portland Japanese Garden, which is consistently rated as one of the best Japanese gardens outside of Japan and is home to dozens of Yoshino and Weeping Cherry trees. Be sure to stop by Umami Cafe, an onsite teahouse with floor-to-ceiling windows, offering views of the surrounding garden, and delicious matcha and mochi.

5. Go on a wildflower hike.

You could spend an entire lifetime trying to see all of the incredible hiking trails that Oregon has to offer. And what could make the state’s landscape even more beautiful? Spring wildflowers, of course!

The region’s most famous wildflower hike, Dog Mountain, is actually not even in Oregon itself—but, given it’s located on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge, I’d be remiss not to mention it. This 6.9-mile challenging hike passes by seemingly countless meadows, carpeted with bright yellow balsamroot, Indian paintbrush, and lupine, and, at its summit, rewards hikers with jaw-dropping views of the Columbia River Gorge below. Permits are required to hike this trail during the weekend from late April to mid-June, which you can reserve at Recreation.gov.

Dog looking at spring wildflowers along a hiking trail in Oregon

Some other stand-out Oregon wildflower hikes include the Mount Ashland Meadows Trail in the southern portion of the state; Mary’s Peak in the Willamette Valley; and the Green Lakes Trail, near Bend.

6. Hit the slopes.

Did you know that Oregon’s ski season is the longest in the United States? 

That’s right- the Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood is open 10 months out of the year and considers its “winter season” to run from November through May, thanks to its location 6,000 feet above sea level. Mount Bachelor boasts a long season into late May, receiving an annual average of 100 inches of snow in March alone!

Woman snowboarding down a mountain with pine trees in the background

So take advantage of the snowy conditions and not-so-chilly weather and get out on the slopes for one last ski or ride, all while taking in the surrounding views of the Cascade Mountains.

7. Spot some whales.

Every year, from late March through May, almost 20,000 gray whales migrate past the Oregon coast, as they make their way from their breeding grounds of the warm lagoons of the Baja Peninsula, back to their home in the Arctic waters. 

Aerial view of gray whale off the Oregon coast

There’s a couple of different ways that you can spot these 60,000 lbs creatures as they cruise past the coastline. 

You can grab a pair of binoculars, head to a spot with a good vantage point, like the top of the sand dunes at Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City or the picnic tables by the parking lot for Ecola State Park, near Cannon Beach, and keep a look out for spouts. 

Couple sitting on a picnic bench and looking at Cannon Beach from Ecola State Park in Oregon

If you’d rather get up close and personal with the whales, one of the best Oregon Coast towns to head to is Depoe Bay, known as the Whale Watching Capital of Oregon. There’s a handful of Depoe Bay whale watching companies, like Whale Research EcoExcursions, that will take you out in Zodiac to get a closer look at these gentle giants, usually starting in mid-March.

8. Light up a beach campfire.

One of the best things to do along the Oregon Coast is to have a campfire on the beach. There’s seriously nothing better than feeling the heat from the fire and the warm sand beneath your toes, when the cool, springtime ocean breeze blows on your face. To really maximize the epicness of the experience, time your campfire with sunset- the coastline does not disappoint!

Couple having a campfire at Pacific City Beach in Oregon at sunset

Not all of the beaches on the Oregon Coast allow you to have campfires, but some of the most stunning ones that do are Cannon Beach, Pacific City, Bandon, and Rockaway Beach. Although not as common in the springtime, even these beaches can have fire restrictions during fire season, so be sure to check local regulations before you light up!

9. Drive the Fruit Loop.

The town of Hood River, sitting along the Columbia River Gorge and in the shadow of Mount Hood, is frickin’ adorable, packed with local eateries, outdoor gear stores, and so many breweries. But one of the best things to do in Hood River, especially in the springtime, is to drive around its adorably named Fruit Loop, a 35-mile scenic drive that passes 27 orchards, wineries, cideries, and other farmland.

Woman looking at Mount Hood in Oregon across the Columbia River Gorge

The trees in the orchards, especially apple and pear, will be blooming with their first blossoms and by May, some of the first U-pick options will crop up, like the peonies at The Gorge White House

If nothing else, there’s plenty of wineries with lovely patios to soak up the springtime weather, like Wy’East Vineyard, which overlooks alpacas grazing in the nearby fields and Mt Hood Winery, where you can kick back and take in the views of Mount Hood in a comfy Adirondack chair. 

10. Hit a hot spring.

Thanks to its geothermal activity, Oregon offers more than a dozen natural hot springs to soak in, scattered across the state. And Mother Nature’s version of a hot tub just seems to hit better when there’s still a bit of a chill in the air, with limited crowds in sight.

Consider checking out:

  • Umpqua Hot Springs (located in Idleyld Park): This series of tubs is carved into a cliffside and overlooks the Umpqua River, rushing below.
  • Paulina Lake Hot Springs (located in La Pine): Found right along the volcanic banks of Paulina Lake in the incredible Newberry Volcano National Monument, these are some of the state’s most unique hot springs- you can actually dig your very own pools in the volcanic sand!
  • McCredie Hot Springs (located in Oakridge): So long as the water level of the nearby creek cooperates, there’s five separate pools here, including one of the most enormous pool I’ve ever seen a hot spring, all tucked away in the beautiful lush Willamette National Forest.
  • Hart Mountain Hot Springs (located in Plush): Found in the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge, this high desert hot spring offers views of both the surrounding mountains and eastern Oregon’s incredible wildlife (like any of the state’s 25,000 pronghorn antelope!).
Man kissing a woman's cheek as they sit in Umpqua Hot Springs in Oregon, with pine trees behind them

11. Stop and smell the roses.

The Portland International Test Garden, boasting more than 10,000 roses, is not only full of gorgeous blooms, but also plenty of interesting history.

The garden was approved by the Portland Parks service in 1917 to act as a safe haven for European roses during World War I. Now, the garden is officially the oldest continuously operating rose test garden in the United States, with over 600 species of varieties of blooms. And better yet, you can see this iconic garden for freeeee!

Woman walking through rows of roses at the Portland International Test Garden in Portland, Oregon

Time your visit no earlier than late April or early May, when the roses start to bloom. Even if you happen to visit before the buds blossom, you’ll still be rewarded with epic views of Portland’s skyline and beyond, Mount Hood.

A visit to the garden is definitely one of the best activities to enjoy in Portland in spring. 

12. Bike the Painted Hills Scenic Bikeway.

Central Oregon’s high desert can get blisteringly hot in the summertime, so why not take advantage of the cool spring weather while it lasts? 

The perfect way to do so is by riding the Painted Hills Scenic Bikeway, a 161-mile route that connects all three units of the John Day Fossil Beds. This national monument spans across 20,000 square miles of eastern Oregon and offers the best fossil record of the Age of Mammals (i.e., the last 50 million years) on the planet.

Green and red striped hills in the Painted Hills of Oregon

The route offers a hub-and-spoke design, allowing you to choose-your-own-adventure for longer or shorter routes, if you’re not quite up for a 161-mile bike ride. One of the coolest routes is through the teeny town of Mitchell, where you’ll be surrounded by the Ochoco Mountains, as you pedal your way to the Painted Hills. Here, you’ll find hills of green, red, and orange, which are indicative of the extreme changes in climate seen in this region some 30 million years ago.

13. Spot a puffin.

Cannon Beach, a charming town along Oregon’s northern coastline, is one of the best places in the country to spot puffins. 

These “clowns of the sea” typically like to hatch their eggs and raise their young on rocky islands that are waaaaay offshore. But some tufted puffins just so happen to have a colony on the grassy northern portion of Haystack Rock, the beach’s iconic sea stack. And Haystack Rock isn’t far off shore- in fact, you can quite literally walk right up to it at low tide!

Close up of tufted puffin

The puffins found here typically show up in April and stay through July. If you want to get a better look at them and find out more about these adorable feathered friends (like, did you know that their babies are called pufflings? TOO CUTE!), the Haystack Rock Awareness Program offers scopes and educational programs at select times, starting in May.

14. Take on the rapids.

If you live in the Pacific Northwest, you may be more inclined to associate Stanley, Idaho and the surrounding area with white water rafting, as opposed to Oregon. But fun fact- you’d actually be hard pressed to find anywhere within the state of Oregon that isn’t within a two hour drive of at least Class III rapids. And, if you’re looking for adventure, spring is the perfect time to take on the rapids here- thanks to the increased rainfall and snowmelt, the rivers will be at their highest.

Group holding paddles as they white water raft down rapids

You can find rafting trips throughout the state, but consider checking out:

  • Full day rafting trip down the Klamath River: An excellent option in the southern portion of the state, this rafting trip starts in Ashland and will carry you 14 miles downriver, through canyons, past pine tree forests, and, of course, down Class IV+ rapids.
  • Half-day rafting trip down the Rogue Valley: For a more family-friendly option in southern Oregon, you’ll take on Class II and III rapids, while being surrounded by the beautiful scenery of the Rogue River.
  • Half-day rafting trip down the Deschutes: For an option a wee bit closer to Portland, consider a trip down the Deschutes, where you’ll quickly encounter Class III rapids and pass by basalt cliffs and some cool wildlife (including a chance to see some big horn sheep!).

The rafting season typically kicks off at the beginning of April and runs through October. 

Alright, I hope you’re appropriately pumped about spring in Oregon- there’s plenty to keep you busy! Did I miss any must-do springtime activities here? Let me know in the comments below!

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