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Oregon Road Trip: From Portland to Crater Lake & the Pacific Coast

Oregon Road Trip: From Portland to Crater Lake & the Pacific Coast

Our city trip to Portland was just the beginning of a nature-based love story between us and the U.S. state of Oregon. Lush green forests, rushing waterfalls, deep blue lakes of volcanic origin, and the rugged and, at the same time, so breathtaking Pacific coast – with a permanent smiling we think back to our road trip through Oregon. And of course, we want to share our natural, adventurous, and gay-friendly experiences with you in this Gay Oregon travel journal. Extraordinary is ordinary? Enjoy reading our Gay Oregon Travel Journal and, of course, planning your LGBTQ+ friendly trip to the North West of the USA with Couple of Men!

– in paid collaboration with Travel Portland –

A snowy kiss in June at the deep blue Crater Lake in gay-friendly Oregon | Gay Oregon Travel Journal ©
A snowy kiss in June at the deep blue Crater Lake | Gay Oregon Travel Journal ©

Starting our Oregon trip with some days in Portland

Right in the middle of the Pacific Northwest region, nestled at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers, Portland and Portland Region is the largest metropolis in Oregon and its economic center. And, the “City of Roses” is green, known for its hipsters, breweries, parks, and has an extraordinarily queer-friendly and welcoming community. LGBTQ+ bars, clubs, events as well as the colorful diverse, and trans-friendly annual Portland Pride, give the city a reputation as a welcoming and popular destination in the U.S., particularly for gay, lesbian, trans, and queer travelers. But every city trip has an end, especially when nature is calling us gay bears away from the busy city life for some days of recreation.

A Couple of Men Selfie in front of the Ross Island Bridge and Tilikum Crossing Bridge in Portland ©
A Couple of Men Selfie in front of the Ross Island Bridge and Tilikum Crossing Bridge in Portland ©

Gay Portland Travel Guide

The U.S. state of Oregon is a particularly scenic and diverse vacation region. Especially the largest city and economically most important metropolis, Portland. But how gay-friendly is Portland? And where is the best place to stay? What is there to do? We’ll answer your questions for a gay-friendly and adventurous city trip to Portland, Oregon!

Plan & book your Portland trip here >

Traveling to gay-friendly Oregon

As a European, the question naturally arises, what is the best way to get to the US state of Oregon? There are several daily direct connections, either with our gay-friendly partner airline KLM Royal Dutch Airlines or SkyTeam partners Delta and Air France. It is just a 10.5-hour from Amsterdam flight until you’ll arrive in Portland.

View from the plane over Oregon and Mt Hood ©
View from the plane over Oregon and Mt Hood ©

If, as we often do, you would rather not travel to just one region in the U.S. – also because of your carbon footprint – you can also plan a road trip to Oregon. A train trip from, let’s say California, is also always a great way to see more of the U.S. west coast. For longer distances, flying within the US is easy and comfortable and very common, with convenient connections nationwide.

Flying with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines ©


Best KLM Flight Offers

We have found attractive offers for flights worldwide and in Europe via Amsterdam with the gay-friendly KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. These include direct connections with KLM or its partner airlines Air France and Delta Air Lines in Economy, Premium Comfort and Business Class. *subject to availability / last check: Spring 2024

Book your KLM Flights here >

Road Trip South to Crater Lake National Park

The time in Portland really seemed to fly by. After some wonderful summer days in Oregon’s biggest city, we started our road trip through the U.S.-American state with a 3.5 hours drive south to the Umpqua River Valley and the Crater Lake National Park. The further we left Portland and Oregon’s capital Salem behind us, the quieter the roads became. Daan turned on some quiet but upbeat road trip music and we began to focus on the nature surrounding us.

Driving along the Pacific coast in Oregon with our Mazda rental SUV ©
Driving along the Pacific coast in Oregon with our Mazda rental | Gay Oregon Travel Journal ©

Finally, in Roseburg, we left Highway 5 and followed the Umpqua River in an easterly direction. The sun had already disappeared behind those mountains we were heading into. Only the tops of the mountains and trees glowed golden, while Daan simply couldn’t take his eyes off the increasingly dense and lush forests. With sun set, we arrived at our accommodation for the next two nights, nestled by the river one the one side and forest on the other. Time for a quick dinner snack and off to bed.

Gay-friendly Lodging & Dining at the Steamboat Inn

Good morning beautiful, beautiful nature! Waking up in the middle of the forest is just one of the best things that could have happened to us while traveling through Oregon. Our first accommodation outside of Portland was the family-run Steamboat Inn in the North Umpqua River Valley. Before you are asking, no, there are no steamboats around here on the Umpqua River, just this super cute, well maintained, and very LGBTQ+ welcoming Inn with rooms by the water or gorgeous cabins up in the forest.

Feeling welcome and safe at the Steamboat Inn in Oregon | Gay Oregon Travel Journal ©
Feeling welcome and safe at the Steamboat Inn in Oregon | Gay Oregon Travel Journal ©

Here we met Jesse, a local member of the queer community and, for us, the gay heart of the Steamboat Inn. He literally had answers, a story or an anecdote to tell to all our questions, concerns and requests. Luckily, it wasn’t too busy during the days of our stay. So we had enough time to chat and learn about the LGBTQ+ friendliness of this special place in nature. Oh, and did we mention the food? After a day of waterfall hiking, make sure to plan a dinner outside in the garden with a river view. Of course, paired with a well-chosen glass of wine. Jesse recently earned his WSET Level 1 certification in wine adding an extra level of service to this gay-friendly accommodation in Oregon.

Working with Pride:  the queer heart of the Steamboat Inn, Jesse Gooden | Gay Oregon Travel Journal ©
Working with Pride: Selfie with Jesse Gooden, the queer heart of the Steamboat Inn ©

Crater Lake National Park

Can you spot us? Yes, the tiny little men to the right standing on the edge of Crater Lake in Oregon, that’s us! After a good night’s sleep in the woods, we spent a whole day exploring and hiking around some of the biggest natural wonders of Oregon. First, Crater Lake, the deepest lake in Northern America – of volcanic origin. Lucky us, the road around the crater lake just opened two days before our trip. Even in June, snow and ice sometimes block the streets. But not for us. We parked the car and equipped with water, sun lotion and our camera plus tripod, we went on a hike around the caldera. Stunning, pure, unbelievably wide. Definitely a highlight of our Gay Oregon Travel Journal.

Feeling small at the deepest lake in the U.S. and the second deepest in North America | Gay Oregon Travel Journal ©
Feeling small at the deepest lake in the U.S. and the second deepest in North America ©

Some tips and advice for your day at Crater Lake in Oregon: Don’t forget to buy your National Park entrance ticket to pay with a credit card or cash. Unfortunately, due to the height of the volcano crater above sea level, you might not be able to reach the crater lake and visit the Rim Village, sometimes even in summer because of snow and ice. Also, be kind and thoughtful when exploring Crater Lake: take your trash back to your accommodation, follow the guidelines regarding water sports and unleashed dogs, and don’t take any risks for the best photo. Just enjoy the unique experience in Oregon!

7 Top Nature Adventures in Portland, OR ©

9 Nature Highlights in Portland, OR

Kayaking, Waterfalls, Chinese & Japanese Gardens, Rose Test Garden, or Waterfront Park – Portland has a strong connection to nature. In our blog article, we are introducing you to our nine favorite places to experience the unique bond with nature in and around Portland, that you should not miss when visiting Oregon.

Click here for the complete list >

Waterfalls at the Umpqua River Valley

But the day wasn’t over just yet. On our way back along the Umpqua River towards the Steamboat Inn, we encountered them again: Waterfalls. A lot of them. One more stunning than the other. Some of which can definitely compete with the known waterfalls in and around Portland, such as Multnomah Falls. The game was on for our Gay Oregon Travel Journal: We wanted to visit as many waterfalls as possible.

Stunning! Numerous waterfalls along Umpqua River Valley | Gay Oregon Travel Journal ©
Stunning Watson Falls! Just one of the numerous waterfalls along Umpqua River Valley ©

We managed to visit four of them: Clearwater Falls, Watson Falls, Toketee Falls, and, on the following day before heading west, Susan Creek Falls. Our advice for waterfall lovers: Hiking fans should consider at least a day or, even better, two, to see them all.

Take your time to hike through the Umpqua River Valley and visit as many waterfalls as possible ©
Take your time to hike through the Umpqua River Valley! One of our favorites: Toketee Falls ©

Road Trip to the Pacific Coast of Oregon

From the deepest woods in Oregon to the windy and rough but magnificent Pacific coast. It was a four-hour drive from the Steamboat Inn along the Umpqua River Valley and the impressive coast all the way north to Lincoln Beach. We had two nights planned on Oregon’s Pacific coast including a Spa day, an Aerial Park adventure, and a day at Cape Kiwanda Beach.

Salishan Coastal Lodge: Spa & Aerial Park

Our hotel resort Salishan Coastal Lodge was the perfect base for some outdoor activities and relaxation. Huge rooms, delicious breakfast and the location just across the beach promised a wonderful stay at the coast. And the lodge kept its promise. Especially, our time at the Spa deserves mentioning. And yes, that was the view from the pool you can see on the picture below! Sauna, steam room, whirlpool, and the outside pool with a view: we really could relax and enjoy the beauty of the Siletz Bay.

Salishan Coastal Lodge Spa with a view ©
Salishan Coastal Lodge Spa with a view ©

But for us, recreation time is not only about a spa treatment. The connection to the flora and fauna of a destination is equally important and relaxing to us. Like a day in the tree tops of Salishan’s on-site Aerial Park, the only aerial adventure park on the Oregon Coast. Run by the Adventure Collective and its experienced guides, we were to conquer 15 platforms and 20 elements and a series of obstacles. It was soooooo much fun, look at our smiling faces!

Up up in the trees at the Aerial Park of Salishan Coastal Lodge ©
Up up in the trees at the Aerial Park of Salishan Coastal Lodge ©

A day at Cape Kiwanda Beach

The beach day started with lots of rain and the dense forest was partially covered in clouds of mist. But there is no wrong weather, just wrong clothing, right? Packed in our rain jackets, we decided to go for a walk – like we love to do on the Dutch coast, too.

Hand in hand at Cape Kiwanda Beach in Oregon | Gay Oregon Travel Journal©
Hand in hand at Cape Kiwanda Beach in Oregon ©

While dozens of handsome surfer boys tried to ride the perfect wave, we soaked in the fresh wind from the ocean and the stunning view over the coastline and Haystack Rock. A hand full of shells, a couple of small crabs, and some screeching seagulls later, the sun had then fought through the clouds. Thus, we could enjoy the last waves of the Pacific barefoot as we strolled hand in hand towards the car.

Gay Oregon Travel Guide ©

Gay Oregon Travel Guide

From the “City of Roses to” the stunning nature of Oregon. After our summer city trip to Portland, we jumped into our rental car and made our way once around the state in the Pacific Northwest region. Stunning waterfalls, the deep blue crater lake, and the Pacific coastline are simply stunning and a great place for a diverse vacation close to nature.

Plan & Book your Oregon Trip >

Sunset with Whale Watching

What’s the proper way to say “Goodbye” to the Pacific Coast in Oregon? Well, we don’t know about you, but we had a perfect idea! Before our last night in Oregon, we got a local beer and take-out dinner at the hotel’s restaurant and made our way south of the Salishan Coastal Lodge. Perfect timing! Because when we arrived at the Boiler Bay State Scenic Viewpoint, the sun was about to set.

Daan enjoying the last sunny moments overlooking the Pacific ©
Daan enjoying the last sunny moments overlooking the Pacific ©

Besides a handful of people, we found a quiet place for our dinner, right at the shore. The view over the seaboard with mist coming in was stunningly beautiful. And believe it or not: We even saw a whale or two emerging from the ocean. Bye-bye Oregon! We as outdoor and nature lovers cannot wait to be back, hopefully very soon!

Plan your trip to the North-West of the USA with our Gay Oregon Travel Journal

During our time in Oregon, we were holding hands for the most part and always gave each other a kiss in between, whether it was because we were happy, comfortable, or because we just wanted to show affection. Ultimately, we felt at ease and encountered no hostility, insults, or strange looks being an openly gay couple traveling around Oregon and Portland.

Do you want to know and see more of us gay couple travel bloggers? Stay tuned and follow along on FacebookTwitterYouTubePinterest, and Instagram! See you around in the United States of America, Northern America, and on one of our next gay pride trips worldwide!

Karl & Daan.

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Please note: This trip was made possible in close collaboration with Travel Portland and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. A special thanks for the tips and support goes to our wonderful readers, followers, new and old friends from all over the world. Nevertheless, our photos, our videos, our opinions, and our writings are our own, as always.