Staff Review: Rhododendron, OR

A few weeks ago, I visited my best friend’s new home in a small Oregon community called Rhododendron. I’ve always loved the rhododendron flower, but I had no idea that there was a town named after it until my bestie moved there. As you’d probably guess, many of the flowers grow there. Originally named ZigZag (also a fabulous name and thankfully ended up being used for another nearby community), Rhododendron is a tiny little town in the Mount Hood Corridor with an official population of 262 people. Both Rhododendron and ZigZag are found off of U.S. Route 26 (also known as the Mount Hood Scenic Byway) about 50 miles east of Portland, Oregon. Mount Hood is Oregon’s highest peak and Rhododendron is at the base.

While I’ve been to Portland, Bend and Bandon, Oregon, I was floored by the natural beauty found in Rhododendron.

Tall trees align all of the roads and surround my friend’s home.  We went to some local restaurants with a lovely small-town vibe, like the Skyway Bar & Grill in ZigZag, Oregon. The Skyway is a great little BBQ restaurant featuring live music, outdoor campfires, and delicious food. Our visit was highlighted by the very welcoming owner who greeted me like an old friend and seemed to know every local’s name.

Best friend visits always fill the soul, but this one was extra special as I had only been to Mt. Hood a few times and never knew about the quaint and lovely towns surrounding it. We walked my friend’s dog, Middie, down to the Sandy River and had a picnic. Middie couldn’t get enough of the beautiful walk and breath-taking river views! Afterwards, we kayaked at nearby Trillium Lake. The stunning crystal blue water was so serene and peaceful— we could’ve stayed on the lake for days.

The weather was gorgeous the entire time I was there, which is not the norm for life in the Pacific Northwest (my friend said that it rained for a week straight after my visit). I will take it and be grateful for it. While Colorado has no shortage of beautiful natural scenery, I was captivated by Rhododendron and highly recommend a trip if you ever get the chance!


-Meg Nugent