7 Cool Spots to Escape the Summer Heat in Oregon

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With the heat of summer right around the corner, it’s time for residents and visitors alike to start looking for places to escape the heat. Luckily for them, there is no shortage of places around the state, even in some of its more unlikely corners, where you can find cool relief on even the hottest of days.

With cool coastal towns, high mountain retreats, and hidden gems found deep in Oregon’s lush forests, there is no shortage of spots to escape.

So pack your windbreaker and get ready to explore our seven favorite locations around the state to escape the summer sun.

Crater Lake National Park

Man going in for a swim in Crater Lake NP Oregon in a beautiful calm afternoon, the Cleetwood Cove trail leads to the Shore and it is one of the only places where swimming in allowed.
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Southern Oregon isn’t usually known for its cool summer weather, but if you head up to the summit (or at least what’s left of a summit) around Crater Lake, you’ll find yourself at over 6,000 feet, which means cooler days and even cooler nights.

Cool off with a hike down to the lakeshore, where you can swim in the lake’s cold blue waters, or take a water tour over to Wizard Island and enjoy the breeze while underway.

Crater Lake is also close to the famous Oregon Waterfalls Highway, which offers no shortage of swimming holes and cooling waterfalls to explore.


Astoria Riverwalk Megler Bridge Springtime
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This maritime town is situated near the mouth of the Columbia River, and during the summer months, you can expect to see just as many cool, foggy mornings as hot days. Even when the Willamette Valley is baking, just an hour and a half to the east, Astoria will typically be a much more pleasant temperature.

Use your time here to explore the city’s waterfront along the Astoria Riverwalk. You can also drive a few miles west to Fort Stevens, which is home to miles of sandy beaches, the skeleton of a century-old shipwreck, and decommissioned military installations.

Pacific City

Moon rise and sunset over Cape Kiwanda along the Oregon Coast at Pacific City.
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Skip the summer crowds at Cannon Beach and head to Oregon’s other coastal town that is home to a Haystack Rock.

Pacific City is only half an hour further drive than its touristy neighbor to the north, yet sees a fraction of the crowds.

Here, you can grab a table at the waterfront Pelican Brewing Company and watch local fishermen launch their dory boats into the surf, surfers riding the waves offshore, and visitors slowly making their way up the massive Cape Kiwanda sand dune.


"Mountain View and Reflections in Wallowa Lake"
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Located in the furthest reaches of the Northeastern corner of Oregon, Joseph is a western town with next-door access to the mountain range known as the “Alps of Oregon.”

The Wallowa Mountains rise up over 5,000 feet in elevation from the town of Joseph and while the heat settles in on the lowlands these granite peaks offer the perfect summer respite.

With miles of rivers, high alpine lakes, and snowfields that last deep into the summer, the alpine region is the perfect place to explore.

If a day of climbing isn’t your style, head to Wallowa Lake, where you can launch a paddleboard or boat from either end and spend the day swimming, paddling, or just relaxing along the shore.

Columbia River Gorge

Water falls down into Eagle Creek fast Oregon outdoor
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Just down the road from Portland, the Columbia River Gorge is a local playground with miles of trails running through lush, cooling forests, rivers cutting through the basalt cliffs, and more waterfalls than you can count.

Head to Eagle Creek trail, where you can hike up to Punchbowl Falls. Here, you can play on the gravel bars downstream from the falls while watching daredevils take their kayaks off of this stunning waterfall.

Mt. Hood

Lost Lake with Mt Hood
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Mt. Hood is one of the only places in the contiguous United States offering lift-assisted skiing during the summer.

So when the temperatures are baking in the valley, you can head up to the slopes and spend time making turns on the Palmer Ice field.

That isn’t all there is to do, though, with numerous lakes perfect for paddling and swimming, lush old-growth forests, and trails that will take you along still ice-cold rivers.

Cascade Lakes Highway

Sparks lake Reflection
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Situated just outside of Bend, this 66-mile-long road takes visitors and locals past over a dozen lakes.

These lakes range from small bodies of water where no motorboats are allowed to large lakes with resorts serving fresh food and summertime music.

The lakes are also famous for their fishing, so head up early in the day to get on that morning bite and enjoy the area’s solitude before the crowds arrive.

About the author
Derek Carlson
Pacific Northwest native, cross-country skier, hiker, mountain biker, wannabe fly fisherman, writer and owner of Roam the Northwest