If you’ve never been to Oregon before, it should be on your list of places to see and photograph.
Though the western side of Oregon - with its soaring volcanic peaks, lush rainforests, pristine coastline, and abundance of waterfalls - is perhaps better known, the eastern slope of Oregon certainly has its photography hot-spots as well.
In fact, Oregon locals know a thing or two about the best places to take your camera - the Seven Wonders of Oregon.
The Oregon Seven Wonders take you from one end of the state to the other (with a few stops in the middle, too). Let’s take a quick look at these beautiful Oregon photography locations.
photo by thyegn via iStock
Mount Hood is one of the most iconic mountains in the world - and the second most climbed mountain on earth.
Between its 11 glaciers, meadows full of wildflowers, and breathtaking waterfalls, rivers, and lakes, the Mount Hood area certainly isn’t lacking in spectacular landscapes on which to train your camera.
One of the best photo opportunities in Oregon is a sunset photo session at Mount Hood.
In the evening hours with the spectacular colors of the sunset lighting up the sky, you can capture images of Mount Hood’s majesty reflected in the glass-like waters of Trillium Lake.
photo by freebilly via iStock
In southern Oregon is one of the most breathtaking sights in the state - and the world, for that matter - Crater Lake.
Formed when Mount Mazama, an ancient volcano, collapsed, Crater Lake is 1,949 feet deep at its deepest measured point, making it the deepest lake in the United States.
But the lake’s depth isn’t what draws so many people here with their cameras. Instead, the awe-inspiring views of the rimmed lake with Wizard Island and Phantom Ship (another, much smaller island) poking through the water’s surface is what makes this a must-see stop on your Oregon photography tour.
To experience Crater Lake’s raw beauty in greater solitude, consider visiting in winter, when you can snowshoe or cross-country ski around the rim of the lake.
The Oregon Coast
photo by HeathSmith73 via iStock
Any fan of The Goonies will recognize one of Oregon’s most famous coastal areas - Cannon Beach.
But what non-Oregonians might not realize is that there’s 363 miles of breathtaking Pacific coast in the state, all of which is free and open for public use.
Whether you fancy a visit to Cannon Beach to photograph Haystack Rock, to Thor’s Well to capture mystical images of the ocean draining into a hole, to Otter Point State Recreation Site to see unique sandstone formations, or points in between, the Oregon Coast is a photographer’s dream.
Be on the lookout for opportunities to see whales, otters, seals, puffins, and other wildlife, as well as breathtaking manmade structures, like one of the 11 lighthouses that dot the coastline.
Columbia River Gorge
Stream Below Fairy Falls in the Columbia River Gorge.
No photo tour in Oregon is complete without a stop in Columbia River Gorge.
One of the most awe-inspiring natural wonders in the world, the Gorge is a National Scenic Area (the largest such area in the United States) that offers stunning views that are unparalleled in the world.
A visit to Crown Point is a must, where you can photograph the rushing waters of the Columbia River cut its way through the Cascades. The many famous waterfalls in this area - Multnomah Falls, Latourell Falls, Fairy Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls - are must-see locations, too.
Starvation Creek in the Columbia River Gorge is fed by a 190-foot, two-tiered waterfall.
If you want to find a beautiful spot that’s perhaps less busy than other waterfalls in the Gorge, consider Starvation Creek as a fantastic stop on your Oregon photography tour.
This beautiful scene is nestled in Starvation Creek State Park, a tiny area tucked up against the soaring cliff walls of the Gorge.
It’s easy to access, too - it’s right on Interstate 84 - which is an eye-poppingly gorgeous drive through the Gorge.
Smith Rock is one of the Seven Wonders of Oregon and when you see its towering spires of volcanic ash rising out of the sagebrush you’ll understand why.
Located in central Oregon, Smith Rock is a collection of solidified volcanic ash spires that rise dramatically out of the dusty landscape of the high desert.
Smith Rock State Park is a mecca for photographers, rock climbers, mountain bikers, and other outdoor enthusiasts. And while it’s a popular area bustling with people, as you can see above, the view is well worth the time and effort spent hiking to the perfect vantage point for a sunset photo.
This area sees more than 300 sunny days each year, so the rain and fog associated with western Oregon is nowhere to be found. Instead, you can practice your photography skills in a breathtaking place with the warmth of the sun’s rays to keep you company.
The Wallowa Mountains
photo by thinair28 via iStock
Heading further west, Oregon’s Wallowa Mountains are one of the crown jewels of the Eastern Slope.
This area has a distinctly different vibe than the other Seven Wonders of Oregon listed above.
There’s a rugged isolation to the Wallowas, where you can photograph everything from alpine mountains to high desert plateaus, deep canyons to thick forests, and an abundance of lakes.
This is also the area where the Oregon Trail left its most salient mark - you can still see the ruts left by the wagon wheels across the landscape that has changed little in the last 150 years. If you’re lucky, you might even encounter a ghost town on your adventure!
The Painted Hills
photo by kongxinzhu via iStock
Western Oregon’s Painted Hills get their name from their beautifully colored stratifications of the soil.
The Painted Hills have layers of black, gold, red, and yellow earth that can actually change color depending on the time of day. Light, moisture levels, and the time of year can also influence how the colors are presented.
But the Painted Hills are but one of many must-photograph spots in this corner of Oregon. If you make the trek, be sure to visit the Clarno Unit, where you can see pillars that were formed by volcanic sludge and waterfalls rising up from the earth.
Make the Most of Photographing Oregon With an Oregon Photo Workshop
Sunset at White River Falls with Mt. Hood in the distance.
Though Oregon offers much in the way of breathtaking sights to see and photograph, planning your adventure can be a time-consuming and stress-filled task.
Besides, these well-known locations filled with tourists aren’t the only areas in Oregon you should explore with your camera.
Instead, you might consider visiting as part of an Oregon photo tour. But don’t just sign up for any photo workshops in Oregon. Instead, you want your experience to be led by someone with a deep knowledge of the area so you can get off the beaten path.
The abandoned power station at White River Falls is a great contrast to the state park’s stunning waterfalls.
Scott Setterberg is just the guy to help you do that. With nearly 30 years of photography experience, Scott knows the secret spots to take you to experience the best beauty Oregon has to offer.
I’ve gotten to know Scott recently, and what impresses me the most about him isn’t necessarily his keen photography eye, but instead his dedication to the customer experience - his tours aren’t simply about making a quick buck. Instead, he crafts his tours to be life-changing experiences in which you connect more deeply with the natural beauty around you.
Lower White River Falls
Sure, his Awe-Inspiring Oregon Photo Tour hits on some of Oregon’s Seven Wonders - like Mount Hood and Smith Rock - but you’ll also get to experience areas like White River Falls, Abiqua Falls, Butte Creek Falls, and Silver Falls State Park, which might not get as much glory as Oregon’s Seven Wonders, but are nonetheless spectacular.
I’ve been on my fair share of photography tours before. Some were okay, others were great, and still others left a lot to be desired.
My photography tour experiences have helped me realize that it’s not just about the locations you go to, but how you get there, where you stay, what you eat, and other amenities.
Profile of Upper Butte Creek Falls
I don’t know about you, but when I go on a photography tour, I want to spend my time taking photos, not worrying about what’s for lunch or how I’ll get from Point A to Point B.
That’s why an all-inclusive luxury photo tour is my preferred choice. I mean, what’s better than exploring the beauty of the world around you while getting expert advice from a seasoned photographer, only to end the day in a luxury hotel with fine dining?!
Lower South Falls is one of the incredible waterfalls on the Trail of Ten Falls at Silver Falls State Park.
Scott delivers on that front, and turns your photography tour of Oregon into a once-in-a-lifetime travel experience.
From personalized photography instruction to luxury hotel accommodations, superb food to amenities like free spa services, this is one photography tour you don’t want to miss.
If you’ve had your eye on Oregon as a photography destination, do yourself a favor and skip making your own arrangements. Instead, contact Scott and experience Oregon on a private six-day, five-night tour you won’t soon forget.