a row of three ferns in the columbia river gorge, oregon

Abundance of the Pacific Northwest – Oregon

DustinWong Travel

Great Green Oregon

Welcome to part 2 of my pacific northwest travel update. This year I got to spend quality time photographing the Pacific Northwest, and my favorite state to photograph to date has been Oregon. This state has so many natural beauties from the coastal areas, mountains, forests, waterfalls, and even deserts – I barely scratched the surface. I found the coast so enjoyable I will be leading a photography workshop there spring of 2016!

View part 1 the Best of Washington.

The Columbia River Gorge

The well traveled Columbia River Gorge located just a short drive east of Portland is a waterfall lovers paradise. With several easily accessible majestic waterfalls within a couple miles of road it’s no surprise visitors flock here during the summer months. The surrounding forest typically gets so much rain that it is lush and filled with mossy trees and plant life. I’ve heard stories of many off the beaten path spots that I hope to explore one day. Even though this was my 5th time here, I still felt compelled to hit some of the main spots.

Years ago while trying to find this spot I mistakenly took the wrong trail. I returned to broken windows in my car and many possessions missing. Don’t be careless with your belongings – keep them out of sight. Sadly, Oregon has a history of trail head break-ins such as this. My return this year was much more pleasant, beating the crowds that have begun to visit this spot in droves, probably due to the popularity of the photographs of this pristine spot. The hike in involves walking over large fallen trees a.k.a the log jam, that have gotten stuck in the canyon opening. Then a wade through chest high icy cold water to reach the falls – it’s lovely.

Photo of Oneonta Falls in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
Oneonta Gorge
Oneonta Falls, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

On another short trail through the mossy forest one can stumble upon Emerald Falls. A small cascading section of the Gordon creek that often has green foliage popping up all around.

Photo of Emerald Falls in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
Emerald Spring
Emerald Falls, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

The Cascades

The testament of how awesome this state is that I still haven’t made it to the iconic Mount Hood or Trillium Lake, but hopefully I will soon. There are yet more waterfalls in this area, and this one is slightly less traveled than the Columbia River Gorge spots. A very pleasant hike follows the river underneath wooded forest until opening up to the jaw dropping Tamanawas Falls. Water pours over a 150 foot drop in a natural amphitheater made of columnar basalt. I made this trip with Peter Coskun and I remember him telling me that this was his favorite of them all.

Photo of Tamanawas Falls in the Mount Hood National Forest, Oregon
The Falls
Tamanawas Falls, Mount Hood National Forest, Oregon

Abiqua Falls has been on my list to visit mostly due to the “Waterfall Whisperer” Tula Top, who has shot this place like no other. In fact he has shot all the Oregon waterfalls in ways I could only dream of. I could go on an on about how amazing my experience here was, but that would only serve to make this spot more crowded, which would adversely impact the magical experience of solitude at this haven. So don’t go it sucks!

Photo of Abiqua Falls, Oregon
Abiqua Falls, Oregon

Central Oregon

The next area of the state that is covered with scenic hot spots is Central Oregon. The main city here is Bend, Oregon and is a lovely place to spend a couple of days. Year round outdoor activities draw people and there are too many places to list. Here were some of my favorite images from my time in this outdoor playground.

Photo of sunset at Smith Rock, Oregon
The Raven’s Nest
Smith Rock, Oregon
Photo of crooked river at Smith Rock, Oregon
Smith Rock, Oregon
Photo of Proxy Falls a waterfall in central Oregon
Mossy Harmony
Proxy Falls, Oregon

The Oregon Coast

The Oregon Coast stretches for over 360 miles and runs the entire length of the state. As one would expect for such a large area, there is plenty of diversity. Sea stacks are common up and down the coast, but each region has various types of forest, cliffs, and sand dunes butting up against coastline areas. The north end is very beautiful. Cannon beach, a top beach destination in the country, is a very long beach with several interesting sea stacks visible from shore. It also has highly refined, clean sand making it desirable for just about anybody, photographer or not.

Photo of sea stacks at Cannon Beach, Oregon Coast
Ocean Stone
Cannon Beach, Oregon Coast
Photo of sea stacks at Cannon Beach, Oregon Coast
Cannon Beach, Oregon Coast

A visit to the coast would not be complete without a stop at the notorious and legendary, Thor’s Well, which has knocked photographers flat on their ass, and damaged countless cameras. To get up close to this naturally occurring lave tube, which spews forth water washed up by large waves and drains it at rapid rates, is a bit like tracking bears. Getting too close and falling in would amount to a near certain death. Not all days are crazy, but to get a good shot it often will be a little hair raising.

The day that I visited, a rising ocean swell of 12 foot faces (6 foot Hawaiian scale) was rolling in on the incoming tide. It was burly! The occasional extra large wave, or set waves, would inevitably wash through and soak us all standing around the well. I would raise the tripod above my head to keep it from getting wet, while trying to keep my footing and balance. One eye on the ocean and one eye through the view finder. This has to be photography at it’s most exciting (well shooting an aurora storm is pretty exciting too)! This image is the result of several bracketed shots for dynamic range amidst the chaos that is Thor’s Well.

Photo of water draining in Thor's Well along the Oregon Coast
Pacific Cauldron
Thor’s Well, Oregon Coast

Further down the coast the crowds disappear and beaches go on and on. Bandon Beach has very interesting sea stacks including one that looks like a wizard hat. Good shooting conditions were tough to get here though, so return trips will be in my future.

Photo of sunset at Wizards Hat at Bandon Beach, Oregon Coast
Wizard’s Jewel
Bandon Beach, Oregon

This remote southern Oregon beach once again, stretched on for miles. I didn’t get more than 100 yards from the parking area before I spotted this rock and waves in the sand. I wanted to explore more the beach, but I just loved this rock that was deflecting wind around it leaving a comet like wake around it.

Photo of rock on Meyers beach, gold beach, along the Oregon Coast
The Roamer
Remote Oregon Coast

The marine layer lit up the sky briefly at another spot along the coast.

Photo at sunset of sea stacks on Meyers beach, gold beach, along the Oregon Coast
Remote Oregon Coast

I could watch the waves wash up on the shore for hours. Anticipating the next pulse, each one slightly different.

Remote Oregon Coast
Photo of the Oregon coast sea stacks at night
Remote Oregon Coast
Photo of drift wood on whaleshead beach along the Oregon Coast
Whaleshead Beach, Oregon
Photo of whaleshead beach along the Oregon Coast
Midnight Lights
Whaleshead Beach, Oregon
Photo of waves at whaleshead beach Oregon Coast
Whaleshead Beach, Oregon

Thanks for making it this far along my photographic journey, as you can see this part of the country has more places to visit than one can do in just one trip. I really enjoyed my quality time in Oregon this year, and I hope you get to see it yourself soon.

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