6 Must-Visit Islands in Oregon

Written by Alyssa Shea
Updated: October 8, 2023
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There are many things that Oregon is known for, making it a popular state to visit! The diverse landscape, hiking trails, recreational opportunities, and lush forests make this state a top tourist pick. But did you know there are islands off the coast of Oregon that must be a must-see on your vacation list? If you have a nose for adventure, these six islands in Oregon are waiting for you to explore!

An overview of 6 Must-Visit Islands in Oregon.

1. Proposal Rock

Neskowin Ghost Forest on the Oregon coast

Stumps of trees coming up from the sand in the Pacific Ocean at the Neskowin Ghost Forest in Oregon during low tide at sunset.

©LMaru/iStock via Getty Images

This iconic landmark on the beach of Neskowin, a small town on the north-central Oregon coast, is at the top of the list for a reason! Legend has it that, sometime around 1900, a sea captain took his intended to this spot to propose to her. The captain, Charley Gage, proposed to his beloved, Della Page, on this scenic island. Della’s mother, Sarah, was so inspired by the occasion that she dubbed it Proposal Rock!

The tall, domed rock can be climbed if you’re a hiking enthusiast. The steep slopes give way to the island’s top, where you will find a small forest of trees and a breathtaking view. You can easily reach this spot during low tide, where you will discover stumps of trees emerging from the sand in what locals call the “ghost forest of Neskowin.” Locals caution hikers to be wary of the constantly changing tides while hiking up these slippery slopes!

2. Wizard Island

Wizard Island

The top of Wizard Island is just under 7,000 feet above sea level!

©Tami Freed/Shutterstock.com

If you want a unique experience, visit Crater Lake National Park and set out to Wizard Island! There is an exciting tour that you can take, which offers you plenty of time to hike the so the summit. Wizard Island, which is a 763-foot cinder cone, was created when Crater Lake filled with water after the volcano, Mount Mazama, collapsed.

The volcanic crater at the top, known as the “Witches Cauldron,” offers you a bird’s eye view of the island and is a great place to take some amazing pictures. The top of the cone rises 760 feet above the lake’s surface! While it may look small, the total land acreage of the island reaches over 300 acres.

3. Hayden Island

Mount Hood from I-5 Bridge Hayden Island in front of Columbia River

Mount Hood sets a beautiful backdrop for Hayden Island.

©Paul Massie Photography/ via Getty Images

If you need a change of scenery while staying in Oregon, you might consider taking a day trip out to Hayden Island. It’s only 20 minutes away from Portland and offers plenty of things to do! Outdoor dining, water sports, and waterfront views are just some of the reasons why people go out of their way to spend time here. The most popular pastimes are kayaking and stand-up paddling in the Columbia River’s waters.

This long, narrow island may seem small, but it’s bursting with life. The area known as West Hayden Island is one of Portland’s most important natural areas. You will see plenty of nesting bald eagles as you explore the wetlands, meadows, and beaches and its intact bottomland hardwood forest.

4. Yaquina Head

Morning Light Over Yaquina Head

Archaeologists have been excited to find evidence of Native American visits to the area.

©kellyvandellen/ via Getty Images

The wildlife is a big draw for many visitors to Yaquina Bay Island. You can see harbor seals and whales offshore all year round! You can also catch thousands of seabirds flocking to the shores in spring and summer to breed and raise their young. Low tide is also a great time to visit if intertidal life, such as sea stars, snails, seaweed, algae, and crabs, interests you.

You can also catch sight of a beautiful lighthouse that was first lit on August 20, 1873! This 93 feet tall lighthouse still stands to this day. Though it’s technically considered a headland rather than an island, it will one day become an island once the barrier connection to the mainland has totally eroded. Until then, you can still reach this beautiful spot by foot!

5. Sauvie Island

Sauvie island

Sauvie Island is located near Portland, Oregon.

©Thye-Wee gn/Shutterstock.com

Many tourists can attest to what a gem Sauvie Island is! Whether you’re looking to escape busier urban areas or relax in nature, this is a great spot. This 24,000-acre island that sits at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers has something for everyone. The farmland is a great place for families to pick fruits and veggies right from the field!

Did you know that the island is also home to a wildlife refuge? Established in 1947, the wildlife area was created to protect and improve the local waterfowl habitat and provide public hunting areas. Fishing, hiking, and birdwatching are popular activities while visiting this idyllic island!

6. Elk Rock Island

Wide view at Willamette river in Milwaukie area

Elk Island became a part of the city of Milwaukie in 2016.

©Strekoza2/ via Getty Images

Did you know that Elk Rock Island has some of the oldest exposed rocks in the Portland area? The winding hiking trails offer some of the best views of the landscape! With over 13 acres of natural areas and seven distinct habitats to explore, you won’t get bored anytime soon. The habitats are as follows:

  • Willamette River Floodplain
  • Emergent Wetland
  • Mesic Upland Forest
  • Riparian Forest
  • Cliff Face
  • Xeric Upland Forest
  • Willamette Valley Grassland

Whether you’re swimming, picnicking, watching wildlife, or unearthing some of the local geological wonders, you will surely find something for everyone on this island. And don’t forget to bring your furry friends along, too!

Summary of the 6 Must-Visit Islands in Oregon

1Proposal Rock
2Wizard Island
3Hayden Island
4Yaquina Head
5Sauvie Island
6Elk Rock Island

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Mio Buono/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

I'm a 36-year-old mother of 2 and military wife. I have 2 dogs and a cat that I'm thoroughly obsessed with. When I'm not writing for work, I'm writing as a hobby. You can find me knee deep in a pile of books or way too invested in a video game.

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