When visiting the West Coast or the Pacific Northwest in particular, there are a lot of amazing areas to explore. These areas have a great food scene, drink scene, and even amazing pizza for the typical pizza-lover, but if a traveler really wants to get the most out of say, Oregon, they'll head to the nature around them. When it comes to the natural beauty of nature, there are few places left in the United States that are as diverse and jaw-dropping as Oregon. Home to ancient forests, roaring rivers, crystal-blue lakes, and desert canyons, this place is one-of-a-kind and a new adventure every time.
It's safe to say Oregon is the mecca for nature lovers and it's tough to narrow it down to 10 places only, but if you're itching to travel to this area in the future, the list below will be a good one to start with. North, south, east, or west, there's a lot of nature and a lot of things to do in the low-key state of Oregon.
10 In South-Central Oregon Sit Crater Lake, Formed Over 7,000 Years Ago And Is 2,000 Feet Deep
Located around two hours south of Bend, Crater Lake National Park has a landscape like no other on Earth. The first thing to know about this beautiful site is that it's not actually a crater, but rather an ancient caldera of an extinct volcano. Once called Mount Mazama, the lava cliffs rise to around 2,000 feet around the impossibly blue and extremely deep lake. The best part about this trek? A short distance from the edge of the crater is Rim Drive, a driving path that circles the lake.
The driving conditions get a little concerning in the winter, so it's best to visit in late spring, summer, or most of the fall. This is one National Park that should definitely be on your bucket list.
9 In South-Eastern Oregon You'll Find Owyhee Canyonlands, Ramshackle Canyons Carved By Desert Rivers
Carved by desert rivers going in the direction of the Pacific, Owyhee Canyonlands is the last unprotected expanse of the American West. From the red-rock canyons, trout streams, and the rolling hills, this area offers a diverse land that's the size of Yellowstone. It's also home to a vast amount of wildlife that a traveler could get a peak of if they're lucky.
Exploring the Owyhee Canyonlands calls for a bit of preparation to really enjoy this trek. You'll only find three paved roads here and not a lot if any, roadside services for gas or a quick snack.
8 On The Northwestern Ridge Of Portland Is Forest Park, A Public Park With 70 Miles Of Trails And Lush Greenery To Explore
For those travelers that want a taste of city life and the great outdoors, Forest Park is the perfect adventure. This area is a public municipal park in the Tualatin Mountains and west of downtown Portland. It stretched more than eight miles on the hillside, covers more than 5,100 acres, and offers around 70 miles of trails. In fact, Forest Park is one of the country's largest urban forest reserves.
This area is great for a run, a short hike, a long hike or a picnic. It's an expansive area with lots of room to play and is best to visit in the warmer months as trails can get quite slippery when wet.
7 The Willamette Valley Is 150 Miles Of Beautiful Country That Is Home To More Than 500 Wineries
For the people that like to enjoy nature while sipping on a delicious glass of wine, this one is for you. Home to two-thirds of Oregon's wineries and vineyards, Willamette Valley is a good stop to make. There are countless wineries to explore with amazing views, luxury resorts, and delightful bed and breakfasts. Surround this area are also highly-rated places to dine as well.
While wineries are great, there's also biking or hiking trails, as well as hot air balloons, rides to take above wine country. It's best to visit in the spring, summer, or fall to appreciate the beautiful flowers, trees, and changing seasons.
6 The Oregon Dunes Is Located All Along The Coastline From Florence To Coos Bay & Is Filled With Sandy Peaks
Located in southern Oregon on the coast is the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. It stretched along the Pacific Coast for 40 miles, before reaching Coos Bay. The massive radius of the wind-shaped sand dunes sits between beaches and pockets forests and offers a special area to explore on foot or on off-highway vehicles.
These dunes are within the Siuslaw National Forest and also offer camping opportunities and additional hikes along the way.
5 Located In Central Oregon Is Broken Top, Some Of The Tallest Peaks Made Out A Stratovolcano
Is this on another planet? No, it's Broken Top, in Oregon. Broken Top is a volcano that's been eroded by glaciers and lies in the Cascade Volcanic Arc. Eruptive activity suddenly stopped around 100,000 years ago, so no worries about that.
The summit sits at 9,175 feet and offers a hike around this area that's three miles long. This hike is dog-friendly as there's plenty of water for them to drink in the stream that runs alongside most of the trail. There's also a small lake at the top as well. To avoid crowds, the best time to go would be in the fall where the air is crisp and the trees are changing.
4 Haystack Rock Is Famous From The Goonies And For Its Picturesque View On The Coast In Cannon Beach
Heading over to the northern coast, a popular tourist spot is Cannon Beach. It offers a large stretch of sand and great views of the jagged coastal rocks. Speaking of, the largest of these is Haystack Rock, a rock that's close to shore and is a famous backdrop for a handful of movies. Cannon Beach is one of the best small towns to visit as it has kept its local charm throughout the years, but also provides fun dining spots, souvenir shops, and great hotels.
Around this area are Ecola State Park and Tillamook Head and lots of hiking for more beautiful views. It's best to go during warmer months as a lot of shops are closed down on the off-season.
3 In Southern Oregon Lies The Oregon Cave National Monument & Preserve That Offers Cave Tours
While Oregon boasts beautiful coastlines and tall mountains, it also goes a little bit deeper...literally. The Oregon Caves centers on a marble cave, accessible only during guided tours. Some travelers might light exploring on their own, but this is a must-see. This tour is for the entire family and offers protected hiking trails through an old-growth coniferous forest.
This monument sits at 4,000 feet elevation in the Siskiyou Mountains and is best to visit in warmer temperatures.
2 Mount Hood Is Oregon's Highest Point And Is A Crown Jewel In The Columbia River Gorge
With its peak rising to 11,240 feet, Mount Hood is the highest mountain in Oregon. In fact, it's been called the unofficial landmark of the state. On the mountain, there are downhill slopes at Mount Hood Skibowl, hiking paths such as the Timberline Trail and scenic viewpoints at the Mount Hood Scenic Loop. The closest town is Government Camp and the nearby Timberline Lodge brings a lot of tourism in for its rustic and homey vibes.
In addition to that, there are always waterfalls to explore and hot springs to dip your toes in as well. For the most part, this area is open all year round, save for some off-season closures in town.
1 The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Park Offers Great Views And An Up-Close-And-Personal Look At A Waterfall
The Columbia River Gorge National Area runs its course along the Columbia River as it cuts through the Cascade Range. This is the boundary line that separates Oregon and Washington and is known for spectacular views and countless waterfalls; the most popular being Multnomah Falls, the tallest waterfall in Oregon. All along these areas, there's an opportunity for hiking trails, biking trails, and camping.
This is one of the most popular day trips in the Portland area, so parking is often limited. It's best to go during the working week or when temperatures are cool as warmer weather attracts more people.