Portland, Oregon Things to Do

16 Stunning Portland Viewpoints + Best Mountain & City Views

September 13, 2022

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There are so many amazing viewpoints in Portland to catch surprise mountain views and stunning city skylines. From Portland’s highest lookout points to parks with city views, sunsets, and scenic overlooks, here are the best views in Portland, Oregon. There are nice Portland viewpoints that require very little work, and then there are a few more challenging ones, that are worth the reward!

Best Viewpoints in Portland, Oregon:

1. Pittock Mansion Viewpoint

Pittock Mansion is the most popular viewpoint in Portland. It overlooks the city and on a clear day you can see five mountains! Mt Hood, Mt St Helens, Mt Adams, Mt Rainer, and Mt Jefferson.

pittock mansion viewpoint - one of the best hikes in Portland and most popular viewpoints

While you can certainly drive and park at Pittock Mansion, my favorite way to get to Pittock is to hike there! The Pittock Mansion Viewpoint is one of the best views in Portland and one of the best hikes in Portland! I’ve written about this one in-depth on my Pittock Mansion Hike post. There are many hiking options around Pittock Mansion. My favorite two ways are Upper Macleay to Pittock Mansion, or Hoyt Arboretum to Pittock Mansion. Pittock is also a nice sunrise viewpoint in Portland. While they don’t technically open until 10am, you can hike for the sunrise views!

Viewpoint: Pittock Viewpoint
Parking: Pittock Mansion Parking Lot ($2/hr)
Distance from Downtown: 3 miles (8 minutes)
Elevation: 909′
More Info: Pittock Mansion Hike / AllTrails

2. Mt Tabor

One of Portland’s most iconic parks, Mt Tabor also has one of the best sunset views in the city! From the upper reservoir (technically #5), you can see all the way downtown. With open views to the west and city skyline, Mt Tabor makes for one of the best sunset hike spots in Portland. And even more great views all the way up to the top, plus a few sneaky Mt Hood views on the other side – through the trees.

Mt Tabor also tops our list for some of the best easy hikes in Portland. All on top of an extinct volcanic cinder cone! And while there are certainly mapped trails you can follow, it’s usually more of a walk for as long as you want and at some point you’ll circle back around!

Viewpoint: Mt Tabor Reservoir
Parking: park entrance drive or Visitor Center
Distance from Downtown: 6 miles (15 minutes)
Elevation: 640′
More Info: Mt Tabor maps / AllTrails

3. Council Crest

Council Crest is a favorite Portland viewpoint, with quite the history. It was an amusement park for about 20 years in the early 1900s. It’s hard to imagine a ferris wheel and rides up on this small hill, which is now a quiet lookout over the city and mountains. Council Crest is one the highest points in the West Hills. And the highest point in Portland, that is also open to the public and has mountain views. Similar to Pittock Mansion, on a clear day you can see five mountains! Mt Hood, Mt St Helens, Mt Adams, Mt Rainer, and Mt Jefferson.

While you can make a hike out Council Crest by doing portions of the 4T Trail, you can also just drive or park, which makes it top of my list for drive up viewpoints in Portland, when I have older family members visiting!

Viewpoint: Council Crest
Parking: around SW Council Crest Dr
Distance from Downtown: 3 miles (11 minutes)
Elevation: 1075′
More Info: Pittock Mansion Hike / AllTrails

4. Eastbank Esplanade & Hawthorne Bridge

eastbank esplanade sunset portland bridges
Eastbank Esplanade sunset view of Steel Bridge

One of my favorite viewpoints and sunset spots is from the Eastbank Esplanade’s floating docks. Whether you’re doing a waterfront loop or just dropping by for stroll and view, the Eastbank Esplanade and Hawthorne bridge are some of the best views of the city, Willamette River and bridges! And in the spring time, Tom McCall Waterfront Park is the best spot for cherry blossom views, with the Steel Bridge as a backdrop.

Viewpoint: Eastbank Esplanade floating docks
Parking: Wherever you find a spot or SE Water Ave
Distance from Downtown: 1 miles (3 minutes)
Elevation: 20′
More Info: AllTrails / Oregon Hikers

Cherry Blossoms at Waterfront Park on a sunny day
Waterfront Park loop – a great spot for cherry blossoms in spring!

5. Cathedral Park & St John’s Bridge

One of my favorite Portland views is the St John’s Bridge from Cathedral Park. This North Portland park is a great spot for picnics, pictures, kayaking the Willamette, and even home to the annual Jazz Fest! In every season, you will find a new thing to love about the park and the views of this impressive steel suspension bridge. The “cathedrals” that the Gothic bridge towers create are best viewed from under the St John’s bridge. This is a popular spot for family pictures and weddings! You can also walk across the St John’s bridge for views of the Willamette and Forest Park.

A favorite Portland spot in fall – Cathedral Park.

Viewpoint: Cathedral Park
Parking: under the St John’s bridge
Distance from Downtown: 7 miles (15 minutes)
Elevation: 33′

6. St John’s Bridge from Forest Park’s Ridge Trail

If you want a great view of the St John’s Bridge and are ready to earn your view, you can do a short Forest Park hike. This viewpoint is a bit more challenging to get to. There are a few parking spots off Hwy 30, or you can park in St Johns and can walk over the bridge. This one also makes my list for best Portland hikes. Shortly after you go up the Ridge Trail Trailhead stairs into Forest Park, you’ll come across this little lookout back on the St Johns bridge, Cathedral Park and St Johns. On super clear days you can also see Mt St Helens and Mt Rainer!

Ridge Trail views of St John's Bridge from Forest Park - best portland viewpoints from hike
Ridge Trail Hike

Viewpoint: up the Ridge Trail
Parking:
Ridge Trail Trailhead (no parking). Park in St Johns or Bridge Ave parking.
Distance From Downtown: 8 miles
Elevation: 350′
More Info: AllTrails / Oregon Hikers

7. Portland Aerial Tram to OHSU

Portland is home to one of the only aerial commuter trams in the country! The Portland Aerial Tram connects South Waterfront up Marquam Hill to OHSU (Oregon Health & Science University) hospital. The tram carries hospital employees, students, patients, and is open to the public as well. The tram travels 3,300 linear feet and rises up 500 feet. The upper terminal of the tram is also a nice sunrise viewpoint (or anytime!).

OHSU Tram view
Tram views of city

Viewpoint: Portland Aerial Tram
Parking: Wherever you find a spot or SE Water Ave
Distance from Downtown: 1 miles (3 minutes)
Elevation: 20′
More Info: AllTrails / Oregon Hikers

8. Thurman Street Bridge

One of my favorite things about living in Portland is discovering all the little peek-a-boo views. And the weather doesn’t make it easy on us. Visit a spot one day and you might see nothing but clouds, come back another time and “Wow, there’s Mt Hood!” The Thurman St Bridge – or the Balch Gulch Bridge – is one of those favorites. The bridge itself is an impressive thing – from below and above. Built in 1905, it’s a “pin-connected highway deck truss bridge” (learn more). For Hood views, stick to the south sidewalk of the bridge, and look east. It’s also quite a view from below, if you take the staircase down to Lower Macleay Park. Which is a good starting spot for hiking to the Witch’s Castle or continue up Thurman St to the Leif Erikson Trail – Forest Park’s NW Entrance.

Thurman St Bridge

Viewpoint: NW Thurman Bridge
Parking:
Lower Macleay Park or street parking
Distance From Downtown: 2 miles (8 minutes)
Elevation: 150′
More Info: Witch’s Castle Hike

9. The Bluffs & Overlook Park

Another of Portland’s best views is from North Portland’s Overlook park. This city park has a lot of history, is just near the historic Overlook House, perched on the bluffs of North Portland. With stunning views of the Fremont Bridge and city skyline, Overlook Park also has sports fields, playgrounds, and picnic shelters. Including one of the last remaining legit merry-go-rounds in Portland! Even in cooler weather, Overlook Park is a favorite destination for picnics and park blanket time. With a southern exposure, if there’s sun to be had, you’ll find it here! Also walking distance to the “Skidmore Bluffs” on the Mocks Crest property – a not so secret city-owned parcel with sunset views above the train yards.

Skidmore Bluffs view

Viewpoint: Overlook Park
Parking:
small parking circle or on-street
Distance From Downtown: 3 miles (10 minutes)
Elevation: 160′
More Info: City of Portland

10. Rose Garden in Washington Park

Another nice viewpoint in NW is from the International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park. While the entire rose garden is on a slope, one of the best views is coming down the staircases near the tennis courts by the Japanese Gardens parking lot. Roses and views, what’s not to like? And another favorite is from the Washington Park Amphitheater on the north end of the rose garden.

Mt Hood from the Washington Park Amphitheater

Viewpoint: International Rose Test Garden
Parking:
lots
Distance From Downtown: 1.5 miles (7 minutes)
Elevation: 460′
More Info: Rose Gardens in Portland

11. Rocky Butte & The Grotto

Rocky Butte is another of Portland’s extinct cinder cone buttes. At over 600′ elevation, Rocky Butte looks out over the Columbia River and gives you 360 degree views of the Portland area- the Columbia River, the Cascade Range mountains, the Portland airport, and city views. The stone structure of rock walls and lamp posts makes this a really iconic viewpoint.

Another great spot if you have more time and interest, is The Grotto. While there is a fee to go up the upper gardens and sanctuary, which is set on a 100′ cliff overlooking the same area as Rocky Butte. It’s a relaxing and gorgeous viewpoint. The lower gardens are free.

Rocky Butte

Viewpoint: Rocky Butte
Parking:
yes
Distance From Downtown: 8 miles (20 minutes)
Elevation: 610′
More Info: Rocky Butte Natural Area, The Grotto

12. Powell Butte

Powell Butte has one of the best views of Mt Hood, in Portland. Often overlooked, since it’s about 20 min from downtown on the eastside near Gresham.. What’s great about Powell Butte, is that there are several hiking options and ability levels here. The mountain lookout spot is less than a mile from the parking area – a short paved trail.

Powell Butte views of Mt Hood
Picture from: Friends of Powell Butte

The short walk to the summit lookout can also be a nice quick stopover on the way to Mt Hood, since Powell Butte is right on Highway 26.

Viewpoint: Powell Butte Nature Park
Parking: lot
Distance From Downtown: 12 miles (25 min)
Elevation: 625 feet
More Info: AllTrails / Oregon Hikers

13. Vista Bridge

Vista Bridge was a favorite Portland viewpoint, in the Goose Hollow neighborhood, before the fencing went up in 2013. Fun fact: The title shot from the show Portlandia was taken from the Vista Bridge – featuring the Portland skyline. Unfortunately, the bridge has a dark history, and was previously nicknamed “Suicide Bridge”. Thankfully, the current barrier has helped with suicide jumps, a worthy task, even though the bridge is much less picturesque with the fencing. But it’s still a cool view of the city!

Vista Bridge 2012 pre-fencing view
Vista Bridge pre-fencing in 2013
Vista Bridge View with fencing
current Vista Bridge view with fencing (Google Maps comparison 2013 to 2019)

Viewpoint: Vista Bridge
Parking:
side streets
Distance From Downtown: 1 mile (5 minutes)
Elevation: 530′

14. Tilikum Crossing Bridge

Portland’s newest car-free bridge over the Willamette River is the Tilkum Crossing, which opened in 2015. It carries light rail over the Willamette and is open to bikes and pedestrians. It’s also one of my favorite views of Mount Hood and the river, Ross Island, and South Waterfront. It’s also a fascinating view of the industrial Portland with majestic mountains in the background. Gritty mixed with beauty, and I think that’s very much a historical look of Portland, compared to some of our more glossy viewpoints. And the bridge itself, from the Eastbank Esplanade is stunning, especially when it’s lit up at night!

Viewpoint: Tilikum Crossing Bridge
Parking:
on-street east side
Distance From Downtown: 2.5 mile (10 minutes)
Elevation: 180′

15. White Stage Sign – Burnside Bridge

Maybe the most iconic sign in Portland, the white stag sign is a nice view from the Burnside Bridge. At night, the sign is lit up – making it even more picturesque. Please note that while the view is great, it can be difficult to photograph or view depending on construction, weather, and lighting, and where you end up taking the picture from! And during the holiday season, the reindeer’s nose is lit up red. :)

Portland's White Stag at dusk. Photo by Steve Morgan
Portland’s White Stag at dusk. Photo by Steve Morgan.

Viewpoint: Burnside Bridge
Parking:
on-street east side
Distance From Downtown: .75 mile (5 minutes)

16. Revolution Hall Roof Deck Bar

While Portland has a few rooftop bars, my favorite is Revolution Hall Roof Deck, which opened in 2017. This sweet spot has great city skyline views, without the extra fuss of some downtown spots, like Departure Lounge. Plus, you can catch a show downstairs at Revolution Hall.

Rooftop at Revolution Hall Portland

Viewpoint: Revolution Hall Rooftop
Parking:
on-street east side
Distance From Downtown: 2 mile (8 minutes)

Best Viewpoints & Lookouts in Portland

  1. Pittock Mansion Viewpoint
  2. Mt Tabor
  3. Council Crest
  4. Eastbank Esplanade & Hawthorne Bridge
  5. Cathedral Park and St John’s Bridge
  6. St Johns Bridge from Forest Park
  7. Portland Aerial Tram to OHSU
  8. Thurman St Bridge
  9. Skidmore Bluffs & Overlook Park
  10. International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park
  11. Rocky Butte & the Grotto
  12. Powell Butte
  13. Vista Bridge
  14. Tillikum Crossing Bridge
  15. White Stag Sign from Burnside Bridge
  16. Revolution Hall Roof Deck
best portland viewpoints

Happy viewing! Looking for more Portland things to do? Check out my favorite Portland breweries list and the best breakfast spots.

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