View Full Version : Oregon Non-Coastal Areas for Photography

Brian Ellis
29-Jun-2005, 05:27
I've spent some time photographing the coast of Oregon. I'd like to explore more of the state. Could people who have spent some time photographing the interior of Oregon suggest some particularly interesting areas for photography? I'm not necessarily asking about tripod spots, just general areas. Thanks.

Paul Butzi
29-Jun-2005, 08:32
The painted hills section of John Day Fossil Beds, which if I'm remembering right is east and a bit north of Redmond.

Crater Lake is nice.

Kerry L. Thalmann
29-Jun-2005, 09:31

Any specific time of year?


Donald Qualls
29-Jun-2005, 09:41
If you haven't been to Crater Lake, you should load up with a box or two of something color and spend a couple days up there. The southern approach road has many good vantages of the deep, steep stream canyon in the tufa beds, and a couple places you can see fossilized fumaroles; the peak, crater, and Wizard Island are excellent subjects, and on the western approach there's a stream close to the highway that's made a lot of interesting shapes by cutting through lava from before Mazama exploded.

Antelope lake, in the southeastern part of the state, is interesting, too -- a block-slip fault forms the lake, so the western shore is gently sloping, very conventional, but the eastern side is all bluffs and cliffs. In addition, it's a bird refuge, so there's a lot of avian variety. Do be warned, however -- Antelope Lake stinks; for whatever reason, the water smells really bad, especially when the water level is low after a drought period.

And depending on what you like to photograph, there's a lot of "beautiful desolation" in the rest of southeastern Oregon -- lava beds, sagebrush, open range (and yes, rattlesnakes, to harken back to another thread from a couple days ago).

Up north, there are lots of good opportunities in the Blue Mountains around La Grande, in the Powder River gorge, and not far from the highway along I-84 running from Pendleton via Baker City to the Idaho border. There are fossil beds along the Columbia near Umatilla, as I recall. And of course there's the whole Columbia Gorge, both the wilder parts and the massive dams.

And in the northeastern corner of the state, there's Wallowa lake and a lot of nice glacial terrain, plus the Oregon side of the Snake River gorge. Some seriously rough country up there, be sure you have 4 wheel drive, but almost all accessible by vehicle, no long hikes unless you just want to do it that way. Might want to have a VHF radio or a 2 meter rig (with appropriate licenses) -- there's no cell service up that way, AFAIK, once you're out of line of sight from Wallowa lake.

John Kasaian
29-Jun-2005, 09:44
The Columbia river gorge, especialy around The Dalles, Crater Lake, lots of nice scenery around Grant's Pass and of course the Mt. Batchelor/Three Sisters area (near Bend) I found Pendelton an interesting town. Deschutes National Forest. Upper Klamath lake I recall has some interesting shoreline with railroad tracks.

Don't miss all the yummy stuff at Harry and David's in Medford.

Nice people in Oregon. No self serve gas stations. Get used to having someone else pump your gas for you. Have FUN!

neil poulsen
29-Jun-2005, 13:24
Crooked River area, the Gorge, Canyon, Resevoir has some terrific scenery. Also an excellent area for camping. Crooked River is not that far from the John Day Fossil area. Note that there are a few areas associated with John Day Fossil; it's not all in one spot. Great shooting in more than one spot. Watch out for snakes in Central Oregon.

In eastern Oregon, one has Hell's Canyon. I haven't seen it, but I've heard it's beautiful.

Consider picking up a travel book for Oregon.

The Columbia River Gorge has some good shooting spots, Multnomah Falls, etc.

Oregon also has some ghost towns worth photographing.

Lots and lots of good areas to photograph.

Doug Herta
29-Jun-2005, 13:28
Two Words: Steens Mountain

The southeast corner of the state is lightly visited, quite desolate, and really beautiful.

Steve Feldman
29-Jun-2005, 13:55
My favorite state.

All over the central and coastal areas are beautiful coverd logging bridges. In the Cottage Grove area - very easy to locate. Just folow the signs. My favorite is on the coast. The Yahoot pronounced 'Yah-hot' bridge. Follow the long road to the very end. A red bridge on private property. The people are cool about it though. Won't bother you. But the large dog might.

Good light. :o)

Kirk Keyes
29-Jun-2005, 14:03
I think Donald has "Antelope Lake" confused with something else, perhaps Alkali Lake, or Summer Lake, or most likely Abert Lake. Anyway, all those lakes are interesting.

Doug - don't tell people about the Steens - they might make an national park or something out if it. It's one of my favorites, too, along with the Alvord Desert directly off the east side. Not quite as much elevation difference between the top of the mountain and the valley below as the Tetons have at Jackson Hole, but certainly a good one.

Brian Ellis
29-Jun-2005, 15:53
Thanks very much for all the responses, sounds like I'll be kept busy.

Donald Qualls
30-Jun-2005, 15:38
Kirk, you could be right -- the lake I'm thinking of is very near the southern border, close to the California-Nevada border (Oregon borders on both). I passed through there once on the way from Ontario (at the Idaho border on I-84) to Crater Lake, but that's been more than ten years, and at the time that was a place to get through quickly, hoping the air conditioning in the car wouldn't fail, not a destination...

30-Jun-2005, 17:48
Some areas I've really enjoyed are: Columbia River Gorge, Eagle Cap Wilderness/Wallawas (it's aptly been nicknamed Little Switzerland), Crater Lake, Mt. Hood and vincinity, in Central Oregon- Three Sisters Wilderness Area, Smith Rock State Park, various viewpoints and trails from the McKenzie Scenic Hwy such as Proxy Falls and trail hiking up Black Crater. McKenzie River Trails.

Some spots I havn't been to yet but hope to soon are : Southeastern Oregon in particular: Steens Mountain, Succor Creek State Natural Area, the Honeycombs near Lake Owyhee, Snake River. Central Cascades Mount Jefferson Wilderness in particular Jefferson Park. John Day Painted hills and other areas.

As mentioned get a guide book, I don't know of any that are geared for photography but some
others I'd recommend are: 100 Hikes in the Central Oregon Cascades by William L. Sullivan, Oregon Desert Guide 70 Hikes by Andy Kerr and Backpacking Oregon by Douglas Lorain. Also the Oregon Road and Recreation Atlas by Benchmark Maps is a handy tool too. Just pick an area, research it a bit and enjoy, this state is blessed with a wonderous variety of natural landscapes as you probably already know.

Matt Wensing
1-Jul-2005, 22:07
Besides the coastal areas, I've explored the Jefferson Wilderness near and around Three Finger Jack, and was quite impressed. There's even a perennial glacier there . . . although I wasn't hiking with LF equipment at the time.

I have also been to Jawbone Flats in the Suislaw National Forest.

Also in Suislaw, in the Drift Creek Wilderness area just south of Lincoln City (off Siletz Hwy) you can check out the Drift Creek Falls with a very cool 100' spanning bridge. Took my first LF photo there! *sniff*

The wind power plants in north eastern Oregon might be fun for abstract, assuming you have a good zoom from the road . . . you will see hundreds of them. Very neat. Just take the interstate east out of Portland toward Washington state.

Very interesting that NE Oregon is stark desert compared to the lush Willamette Valley. If you're headed that way, as others have recommended, the Columbia River Gorge and it's 11 waterfalls would be spectacular, I'm sure. Haven't gone yet. Of course, those hikes are long, so if you're an 11x14 masochist kind of guy, it may or may not appeal to you.

I love Oregon! Couldn't be happier that my in-laws live in Salem and Portland. :-D