Best Motorcycle Rides From Portland, Oregon

Feb 7, 2022


Kawasaki motorcycle ridden near Portland, Oregon.

Oregon is home to the bustling city of Portland and is affectionately known by several nicknames like “the Beaver State” and “the Sunset State.” Portland has a few nicknames of its own—the most popular being the “City of Roses” or “Rose City.” It’s a terrific destination for anyone who wants to see frosted mountaintops, long stretches of forest, and crystal-blue lakes and rivers from the seat of a motorcycle. If you’re the adventurous type, even better. The wilderness areas offer numerous opportunities for outdoorsy types who like to experience the awe-inspiring scenery up-close and personal. This is the motorcyclist's guide to breathtaking rides out of Portland, Oregon.

1. Ashland and Crater Lake

You’ve likely seen pictures of Crater Lake. This mesmerizing lake was formed over 7,700 years ago when a massive volcanic eruption triggered the collapse of a tall peak. It’s the deepest lake in the United States and one of the largest lakes in the world. In addition to its impressive origins, Crater Lake boasts crystal clear water that takes on a pristine blue color on cloudless summer days. 

If you’re going to ride to the crater, you may as well put Ashland on your itinerary too. Ashland is a popular destination with plenty of things to do and things to see. You could visit Oregon’s Shakespeare Festival or spend the day touring local vineyards. A trip to Mount Ashland for mountain biking (summer) or snow sports is also possible during the winter months.

Ride to Ashland and Crater Lake on a motorcycle rental from Portland. Specifically, rent a Harley-Davidson touring bike. These motorcycles are plentiful in the City of Roses and are a reliable set of wheels for a long trip.

2. Three Sisters Wilderness

It almost sounds like the forested hideaway of three storybook witches, but the Three Sisters Wilderness is an area of impressive geological features, alpine meadows, waterfalls, lava fields, and glaciers surround three major mountain peaks. Also known as the Deschutes National Forest, this area is a prime location for camping, backpacking, hiking, and horseback riding. You also have dozens of options in terms of trailheads, some of which lead to Broken Top, Devil’s Lake, and the Mirror Lakes. If you don’t plan to spend a day in the mountains, an exhilarating ride along the highway serves up some spectacular views. Book a BMW motorcycle rental and savor the scenery as you make your way to this natural wonder. 

3. Mt. Hood

Mt. Hood National Forest extends south from the Columbia River Gorge and is possibly the most worthwhile natural destination within 20 miles of Portland. Along with the usual horseback riding, hiking, and climbing possibilities, you also have the opportunity to hunt, fish, or trap. Because of its proximity to Portland, be prepared for potential crowds at some of the popular stopping points and recreation areas. Wilderness permits are free and self-issued at most trailheads, while paid recreation passes are required for a selection of other trailheads. You can see which ones require a fee on the Mt. Hood Passes and Permits page.

A Harley-Davidson motorcycle rental is always a strong choice. You can find several options in Portland and in the neighboring areas as well. A nearby rental makes it easy to start your journey toward the mountain from a variety of starting points, so your plans retain maximum flexibility.  

4. Rowena Crest

Rowena Loop is a scenic ebb and flow of curves that stretches from sea level to the hills above the Columbia River. The upper stretch of the ride becomes the Columbia River Highway, a historic route constructed in the early 20th century that eventually terminates at the Rowena Crest viewpoint. Engineers designed the road to loop back and forth to make the ascent less strenuous on vehicles. The focus, however, was not just to ease the journey but to make it a great scenic boulevard [to surpass] all other highways in the world. If that isn’t evidence of its beauty, we don’t know what is! 

Take in the sights from the seat of a BMW motorcycle rental from Portland. It’s only about 1.5-hour from the city, so finding a suitable street bike for the graceful bends of this highway isn’t a problem.

5. Tillamook Creamery

You’ve likely heard of Tillamook cheese. Well, Tillamook, Oregon is its birthplace. If you’re traveling from Portland, a visit to the factory will take you through the Tillamook State Forest. Enjoy the beauty of the state and arrive hungry, because the factory serves up some amazing food made with their signature dairy products. Plan accordingly, however, because current state guidelines prompted the creamery to temporarily halt self-guided tours. You can still enjoy their food for take-out and visit their gift shop.