Going from Portland to Mount Hood? The majestic volcano is a popular day trip from Portland, being just a two-hour drive away. It’s an incredibly scenic drive, particularly when you reach the road that leads you to Mount Hood. Its helped shape the culture of Oregon, a nature-loving state. You’ll quickly see why so many locals and tourists alike make the trip from Portland to Mount Hood. How you get there depends on how you like to travel, how much time you have, and what your budget is. Let’s get you there. Here are the best ways to get from Portland to Mount Hood.
Portland to Mount Hood
If you want to fit several sights into one trip and let someone else take care of the driving and the planning, then an organised tour is a great option. There are several tour operators that offer trips to Mount Hood in Portland, but most of them will be around 8 and a half hours. They’ll usually pick you up from your hotel, and take you on a tour of the incredible landscapes that surround Portland.
Tour operators might have different routes and schedules, but they’ll usually go to Columbia River Gorge to see plunging waterfalls, then a trip to Rowena Crest where you get to see an excellent view. After the short hike at Rowena Crest, you’re sure to have worked up an appetite, so it’s time for a lunch stop at Hood River. There’s a selection of local food spots to join from there. Then, it’s time to head to Mount Hood. You get an incredible view of the volcano from Trillium Lake, where you’ll typically stop for a while, to soak in the sights. And finally, the last stop is Timberline Lodge, a quintessential alpine lodge, which was actually the hotel in The Shining.
If you’re craving a sense of adventure, taking to the open might be just what you’re after. If you’re beginning a road trip, on holiday in Portland, or simply don’t have a car, then you can rent a car from the airport or downtown Portland, although there tend to be extra fees at the airport. Be sure to do a bit of research to find the best deal.
When you’ve secured your ride, you have two possible routes to get from Portland to Mount Hood. Both of them with their own side adventure possibilities, including campgrounds, charming towns, and trails. You could either start on Interstate 84, which heads east, or Highway 26, which is more direct. Both take around 2 and a half hours, although you’ll probably end up spending a lot longer, depending on the stops you take along the way.
Firstly, the Interstate 84 route takes you through the incredible Columbia River Gorge, where you can stop at the crashing falls of Multnomah. Then, you could stop at Cascade Locks, a beautiful city that sits on either side of the Columbia River. Hood River is another great place to stop and grab food. From there, you’re on Highway 35 for around 45 minutes until you reach Mount Hood, but the fun isn’t over yet. This section of Highway 35 is part of the Mount Hood Scenic Byway, with incredible views and the opportunity to see the Tamanawas Falls.
Alternatively, you could take the more direct route on Highway 26. This is the route that most tour operators will take. You get the opportunity to stop at the iconic Timberline Lodge and to visit the mountain community of Government Camp. From there, you get absolutely breathtaking views of the mountain as you approach it down Highway 26.
There are several shuttle services available from Portland to Mount Hood. They tend to pick you up from your accommodation and include trips through the Columbia River Gorge. Some shuttles are actually mountain SUVs, with studded tyres and rugged exteriors. There are some shuttles that are year-round, but when the ski season begins, then you have even more options. You can get an affordable Park-and-Ride, only available on weekends and holidays, and you can also catch a ride on the Portland-based Green Dream Bus. The Green Dream Buses are fun and wacky, incorporating the social aspect of the outdoors into the bus.
The most affordable way to get from Portland to Mount Hood is by bus. There’s a local bus line that operates seven days a week, only taking slightly longer than other modes of transport at around three hours. Firstly, you take a bus or train from Portland to Gresham Transit Center. From there, you hop on the Gresham Service to Sandy. Then from Sandy, it’s one more trip on the Mount Hood Express. It might seem like a longer journey than the other options, but it’s a good choice for those on a budget. However, it might be difficult for skiers or snowboarders having to transport their gear across various bus transfers.