View Full Version : Oregon in January

Michael Rosenberg
20-Nov-2007, 18:56
I know this will sound familiar to another thread..... I will be attending a wedding in Portland in early January, and was wondering what locations would be best/interesting/accesible. I could go to the northern or southern coast, or try the Columbia River area (and waterfalls). I was wondering what the conditions would be like in either area. Stormy seas would be neat, depending on how stormy. Some snow inland would not be terrible, but I was not planning on taking a lot of winter gear or renting a 4W drive. I am flexible with my time, and could spend a week to 10 days there.



Merg Ross
20-Nov-2007, 21:22
At last, a post I can read without my glasses!

Matthew Runkel
20-Nov-2007, 21:42
It is likely to be completely overcast for all or most of your visit. There are likely to be periods of rain but also days when it does not rain at all, and rainless periods each day. The coastal weather pattern at that time of year is a succession of storms, but you can't count on running into one. There will be snow at altitude but very probably not in the Columbia River Gorge or around the associated waterfalls. Daytime temperatures in most areas are most likely to be in the upper 30s to about 50. I grew up in Oregon, and these are the main generalizations I can think to make.

From Portland it will be easiest to access the north and north-central coast. Another area to consider is the Long Beach Peninsula / Willapa Bay area of southwest Washington. It lacks the drama of some other areas, but it's gorgeous at any time of year.

matthew blais
21-Nov-2007, 08:56
An hour west will get you to Cannon Beach. The fog/overcast weather would be nice to shooting the haystacks. Ecola State Park is there as well. Some great trees and such..

Brian Ellis
21-Nov-2007, 11:35
The coast can be very interesting at that time of year or it can be so totally fogged in that you can't make a photograph. It's kind of a crap shoot. But for a week to ten day trip I'd suggest getting a copy of the booklets about photographing in Oregon written by Robert Hitchman in his "Photograph America" series. He sells them individually for about $5 - $10 each I think. There's one called "The Oregon Coast," another called "Waterfalls of Oregon's Columbia River Gorge and Silver Falls State Park," another called "Deserts of Eastern Oregon," and another called "Oregon Back Roads." I don't have his web site handy but if you Google you can easily find it. Also read the many posts here about photographing in Oregon.

Alan Davenport
21-Nov-2007, 12:07
If you don't want winter, we'll forget about the Cascades. Probably best to forget eastern Oregon, too. That leaves you with urban photography in the PDX area, or a trip to the coast.

There will be some nice minus tides (low tides below MSL) at the coast from January 18 through January 24, some of which will also be close enough to sunset that you might have a happy coincidence of both light and access to some otherwise inaccessible areas on the beach. You might even get to see snow on the beach; it happens every few years. Ecola is a good choice, as is Oswald West State Park, and Cannon Beach. If you feel like driving all day, the absolute best beach for sea stacks and tide pools (IMHO) is at Bandon, but that's 4+ hours from Portland.

Go prepared for cold, wet, wind and the possibility that you'll choose to spend much of the day with a good meal and a cold brew (or hot coffee) instead of on the beach.

Since we gave up on the Cascades, now I'll suggest Silver Falls State Park, an hour south on I-5 and a half hour east from Salem. It's around 1,500 feet elevation, so it's usually not snowed in, but might be. It's Oregon's largest state park, and there are 10 major waterfalls along a trail that loops through two intersecting canyons. A few of the falls are quite near to the roads and parking, others require a few miles of shank's naigie to earn your photons. Silver Falls is always worth the time.

Merg Ross
21-Nov-2007, 12:18
Another vote for Bandon, but as Alan points out it is quite far south of Portland. So much will depend on the weather that you encounter. There is nothing quite like a good weather day along the Oregon Coast!

Joe Lipka
21-Nov-2007, 13:35
Don't let them give you grief about the font size. This is a large format forum...

The Coast (well, all of Oregon West of the Cascades) is a crapshoot as the other posters have stated, but if you can get down to Florence, that's a good place because the dunes are in that area.

Last time I was there I stayed at Newport. It's centrally located and there is some good stuff to photograph in either direction from that spot.

If you get a sunny day (it can happen), the photography anywhere is wonderful all day because the sun is so low in the sky. Check out my website for two projects, one on Oregon Dunes and the other project, made in Vancouver, Washington (right across the Columbia River) done in January.

Have fun.

Eric Brody
21-Nov-2007, 16:48
I actually live in the Portland area, and love to photograph in the winter here. You have lots of choices. Others have pointed out many.

I assume you're using a 4x5 and as a North Carolinian, are not fond of driving in snow. While it snows infrequently in the Willamette Valley, we can have some, as well as ice at that time of year. You cannot go wrong choosing to photograph in the Columbia Gorge. Unless you've spent time here and are blase, the waterfalls can be quite spectacular, especially if there is ice. I hike and photograph there year round.

The coast is variable for weather. I've made trips there in the winter for a romantic weekend with my wife, expecting lousy weather, so we can stay inside, and been presented with warm, cloudless days. Anything can happen but you certainly do not need to travel to Bandon. Bandon is a 4 hour drive from Portland. The area around Cannon Beach, Ecola State Park, with Indian Beach, Crescent Beach, are impressive. Depending on your choice, and the weather, of course, you might want to do a short snowshoe trip in Mt Hood, if the roads are in good shape. There's nothing like the woods in the snow. One need not travel far or hike far.

PM me. I might be free and we could perhaps shoot together. I'm a retired but reasonably fit bum with MF and LF gear. It would be nice to know some more detail about your gear, hopes and expectations.


Dave Parker
21-Nov-2007, 16:56
I posted this in the other Oregon thread, but figured it fit here as well.

Growing up in the Portland/Vancouver area, my short list always covered the Columbia River Gorge area, many waterfalls, to take pictures of, I would also recommend the Oregon Coast around Seaside as well as Cannon beach, well worth the effort. I have on numerous occasions had beautiful days at the coast in the Winter, I love taking images of the various fishing harbors. But again, my favorite area is the Gorge.