The 11 Best Documentaries About Oregon

Sep 23, 2023 | Best Of, Geography, Nature

From exploring the rugged Pacific coastline to taking a deep dive into its rich cultural history, Oregon has been an endlessly fascinating subject for documentary filmmakers. From Emmy Award-winning productions to independent projects, we’ve rounded up some of the best documentaries about Oregon that are sure to captivate viewers. These films will take you on a journey through different eras and aspects of the Beaver State, from its vibrant music scene to the history of its people. Whether you’re an Oregon native or just curious about what lies beyond the forests and mountains, these documentaries are sure to satisfy your curiosity!


1. The Road to Statehood | How Oregon became a state | Oregon Experience

“The Road to Statehood: Oregon Experience” chronicles the journey of a state’s formation, from its original inhabitants to those who sought wealth and adventure in the fur trade. It examines how different backgrounds mixed together along the Oregon Trail, with settlers bringing their hopes and preconceived notions. The documentary looks at the contributions of both Indigenous peoples and pioneers in making Oregon the place it is today. It celebrates how this rich history has resulted in a state with an eclectic culture, and one that will continue to shape our future.

2. Astoria (Full Documentary) | Oregon Experience | OPB

Discover the multifaceted history and alluring charm of Astoria, Oregon. Explore this city’s fascinating story through the decades as it has faced economic struggles and ultimately emerged with a newfound strength. Learn how two centuries of activity have shaped its present and what lies ahead for this unique destination along the banks of the Columbia River. Uncover its captivating culture, mesmerizing waterfront, and captivating communities that make Astoria the wonderful place it is today. Whether you’re a history buff or just want to appreciate its unparalleled beauty, this documentary is sure to leave you inspired!


3. Oregon, Explored – A Roulette Travel Documentary

I have been traveling to the majestic landscapes of Oregon for some time now. I recently decided to capture my travels in a full-length feature documentary. For 13 days, I packed up my things and ventured out into the wilds of Oregon during its offseason. Of course, with this came the challenge of battling rain and wind, but the reward was having amazing locations all to myself. As a Roulette Travel hiking guide, I am used to facing extreme weather conditions and was up for the challenge of whatever Oregon had in store.


4. Smith Rock State Park, Oregon

Smith Rock State Park in Oregon is a beautiful and awe-inspiring place filled with lush greenery, magnificent rock spires, and ancient stone walls. These prehistoric wonders have been shaped by millions of years of volcanic activity and ash deposition, with the top layer of basalt providing an extra level of complexity. Climbers flock to this picturesque spot, seeking to test their skills and conquer the towering spires. Sightseers can also take in the beauty of this remarkable area from the comfort of a virtual tour, exploring all that Smith Rock State Park has to offer.


5. History of the Oregon Trail and Pony Express

Traverse the Oregon Trail with the adventurers who braved the challenge. Follow their stories of success and failure as they traveled across America’s longest and most famous trail. Learn about the history of Pony Express riders, from their brave service in the Civil War to little-known facts that bring these legendary figures alive in an experience for viewers of all ages. Marvel at stunning photography, live re-enactments, and rare illustrations of maps to create a gripping historical journey.


6. State of Jefferson (Full Documentary) 2014 | Oregon Experience

Welcome to the land of Jefferson, a mythical state existing in parts of both Oregon and California. It is a symbol of pride and identity for those living in Southern Oregon or Northern California – a reminder of the enduring regional divide between urban and rural communities. Now, some are hoping to make it an official US state by moving borders between Oregon and California. Explore this unique region with the documentary “State of Jefferson”, and gain a better understanding of why it is so important to many who call this area home. Experience the culture, history, and people that make up the Jefferson region with this award-winning film.


7. In the shadow of Fairview: full documentary | Oregon Experience

In the shadows of Oregon lies Fairview Training Center, a place that once housed tens of thousands of individuals with developmental disabilities. For many of these residents, this institution was their only home and for others it felt like a prison. As time went on, the need for such an establishment began to decline, leading to its closure in 2000 after having been open for more than a century. Still, its legacy remains and we can only imagine the impact that it had on those who passed through its doors. Through documentaries like In the Shadow of Fairview: Full Documentary | Oregon Experience, we can experience its story firsthand and gain a greater understanding of this unique slice of Oregon’s history.


8. Pacific Northwest, Oregon Coast.

Discover the majestic and beautiful Oregon Coast, one of the premier tourist locations in The Pacific Northwest. Feel inspired by breathtaking views, open spaces and vast beauty that have been treasured for generations. In this amazing 5K nature documentary film you will be able to explore and appreciate all the stunning sights that draw visitors from far and wide. You will also learn interesting facts and stories about the history and culture of this special region.


9. Broken Treaties (Full documentary) | Oregon Experience | OPB

Oregon has a long and complex history of native peoples living in its rich and varied landscape. For generations, over 60 tribes spoke 18 different languages while calling hundreds of villages their home. While their culture was strong, it was quickly disrupted with the arrival of white settlers in the 1800s. In this documentary called Broken Treaties, explore how these events affected Oregon’s Native American population. Learn about the native tribes and their life before encountering outsiders, as well as how their culture was impacted by European colonialist practices. Discover what led to the treaties between Native Americans and settlers, and why they ultimately failed to protect indigenous rights.


10. The flooding of Vanport | full documentary | Oregon Experience

Oregon is a state full of natural beauty and history. For centuries, it has been the site of many battles, floods, and disasters. One such disaster occurred in 1948 when the city of Vanport was destroyed by flooding. It had become the second largest city in Oregon just a few years before its destruction. On that fateful Sunday afternoon, over 18,000 people were suddenly left without a home. Residents had no warning and could do nothing but stand by and helplessly watch their city be overtaken by the rushing waters.


11. Oregon at War: How WWII Changed Oregon Oregon Experience

Oregon and World War II are intertwined for most Oregonians, so the exploration of how the war changed the Beaver State is important. “Oregon at War” takes a unique look at both the broad social changes brought about by the conflict worldwide, as well as giving voice to individuals who lived through its effects in their home state. Through interviews with veterans and family stories, viewers get an intimate portrait of how the war impacted Oregon. From economic shifts to the arrival of new residents, this documentary brings to life the experiences that shaped a generation and changed Oregon forever.

Read On – Our Latest Top Documentaries Lists

David B