Carlton is located in the northwest portion of the Willamette Valley in Western Oregon. The Pacific Ocean is to the west of Carlton, and the Cascade Mountain Range is to the east. The city is six miles north of McMinnville and 36 miles southwest of Portland.
Highway 47 travels north-south through the community, connecting with Yamhill in the north and McMinnville to the south. Access to Highway 99W, the nearest major highway, is approximately ten minutes south of Carlton.