The 15 best places to visit in Oregon

 

On the western coast, just out from the large forested headland of Cape Perpetua in the Pacific Ocean is a natural sinkhole that has become known as Thor's Well. At its most spectacular an hour before high tide and during violent storms, the well appears to be bottomless, giving it the nickname the Drainpipe Of The Pacific.

15. Thor's Well

 

In the north west of the state, a rivers width from Washington State is the largest and most populated city in Oregon, Portland, nicknamed the City Of Bridges and the City Of Roses. Visitors to the city can go hiking in the nearby forest park, sample the beers from the local breweries, taste from the cities many street food stalls and wander the large outdoor farmers markets.

14. Portland

 

In the south east of the state, close to the border with Idaho is one of the last great expanses of the American West, the Owyhee Canyonlands. Made up of craggy rock canyons, blue streams and desert rivers, Owyhee is a great location for people who love the outdoors, whether it be for kayaking, fishing for trout or merely hiking through this wondrous landscape.

13. Owyhee Canyonlands

 

In the south east of the state, rising 2,968 metres (9,738 ft) above sea level is the Steens Mountain, a single enormous mountain that was for a long time mistaken for an entire range. Traversed by an 84 kilometre (52 mile) loop road, visitors can drive to the summit of this giant mountain for incredible views over the surrounding peaks and the Alvord Desert.

12. Steens Mountain

 

In the centre of the state, within Oregon's High Desert, covering a small area of some 2.6 square kilometres (1 square mile) is the Smith Rock State Park, generally considered the birthplace of modern American sport climbing. Even for non climbers, the park holds beautiful scenery that has also made it a favourite among hikers looking to walk along the cliffs and the meandering Crooked River. Two of the main trails are the Summit Trail and the unfortunately named, Misery Ridge.

11. Smith Rock State Park

 

East from the city of Portland, located in the Columbia River Gorge is the 189 metre (620 ft) Multnomah Falls, the tallest waterfall in the state of Oregon. Accessible via switchback trails and with a wonderfully positioned viewing bridge, Multnomah Falls is the most visited natural recreation site in the Pacific Northwest.

10. Multnomah Falls

 

Just south east from the city of Portland is the city of Sandy, home to the Jonsrud Viewpoint. Offering expansive views of the Sandy River, the Devils Backbone Ridge and the snow topped Mount Hood, it is often regarded to be one of the best views in Oregon. 

9. Jonsrud Viewpoint

 

In the extreme south of the state, crossing the border into California is the 352 square kilometre (136 square mile) Cascade Siskiyou National Monument, a protected area of forest and grasslands at the junction of the Cascade Range and the Siskiyou Mountains. Made up of hills and forested slopes, the national monument was created solely for the preservation of its extreme biodiversity, being one of the most diverse and untouched ecosystems in the region.

8. Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument

 

In the south of the state, covering a vast area of some 9,116 square kilometres (3,520 square miles) is the Fremont-Winema National Forest, stretching from the Cascade Range in the west and past the city of Lakeview in the east. This huge protected landscape of forests, lakes, mountains and valleys is made up of smaller forest reserves and wilderness areas. One of the most noteworthy areas inside the forest being the Mount Thielsen Wilderness, located around the 2,799 metre (9,184 ft) high extinct volcano of Mount Thielsen, sometimes referred to as the Lighning Rod of the Cascade Mountains. This area along with the Aspen Caldera in the Mountain Lakes Wilderness are among the most rugged and picturesque in the Fremont-Winema National Forest.

7. Fremont–Winema National Forest

 

In the centre of the state, covering some 6,462 square kilometres (2,495 square miles) is the beautiful Deschutes National Forest, encompassing part of the Cascade Range and the Blue Mountains. Within the park is the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, protecting the Newberry Volcano, consisting of the Lava Butte, Lave River Cave, Lava Cast Forest and Newberry Caldera. A favourite among hikers with a number of incredible trails, the entire area of mountains, lakes and forests is some of the most picturesque in Oregon. 

6. Deschutes National Forest

 

In the centre of the state, directly south from the city of Portland is the 6,791 square kilometre (2,622 square mile) Willamette National Forest, a wilderness area made up of enormous forests, river valleys, high alpine lakes and the steep mountains of the Cascade Range. Of the many mountains in the forest, the most notable are the seven major peaks of Mount Washington, Three Fingered Jack, Diamond Peak, North, Middle and South Sisters and Mount Jefferson, the second highest peak in Oregon. One of the highlights of the forest is Salt Creek Falls, a cascading plunge waterfall with a drop of 87 metres (286 ft) into a gaping canyon. It is the third highest plunge waterfall in Oregon.

5. Willamette National Forest

 

In the northern centre of the state, covering a combined 57 square kilometres (22 square miles) are the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, three widely separated areas known for their well preserved layers of fossil plants and mammals dating back millions of years. Of the three units, Sheep Rock, Painted Hills and Clarno, it is the Painted Hills that draw the most attention from visitors. The undulating hills of yellow and red ash rocks certainly make for one of the most unique landscapes in Oregon, if not the whole of the United States.

 

Pictured are the Painted Hills.

4. John Day Fossil Bed National Monument

 

In the north of the state, just east from the city of Portland is the 4,336 square kilometre (1,674 square mile) Mount Hood National Forest, named after the 3,429 metre (11,249 ft) high Mount Hood, an enormous potentially active stratovolcano that is the highest mountain in Oregon. Its proximity to Portland, along with being interspersed with hiking trails, the 60 miles of forested mountains, streams and alpine lakes has become one of the most visited wilderness areas in Oregon.

3. Mount Hood National Forest

 

In the far north west of the state, straddling the border with Washington State and Idaho is the 9,692 square kilometre (3,738 square mile) Wallowa Whitman National Forest, encompassing a huge area of the Wallowa Mountains. With 66 trails allowing visitors access to amazing vista points, the forest has become one of the favourite hiking locations in Oregon. Places of particular note include Hell's Canyon Recreation Area, a mountainous area of forests and river valleys protecting the natural, historical and archaeological area of Hell's Canyon. Another jewel is the Eagle Cap Wilderness, Oregon's largest true wilderness area. Home to large animals such as black bear, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, cougars and mountain elk, it is characterized by meadows, granite peaks, forests and glacial valleys, dotted with over 60 high alpine lakes. Deeply wild, Eagle Cap Wilderness within the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest is one of the finest untouched havens in Oregon.

 

Pictured is Glacier Lake.

2. Wallowa-Whitman National Forest

 

In the south of the state, covering 741 square kilometres (286 square miles) is Crater Lake National Park, Oregon's only national park and the fifth oldest in the United States. Protecting the beautiful caldera of Crater Lake, a remnant of the destroyed Mount Mazama Volcano, this blue hued body of water reaches a depth of 594 metres (1,949 ft) making it one of the deepest lakes on Earth. Surrounded by a number of forested trails leading to the rim of the crater and even down to the lake itself, the view of Crater Lake is arguably the finest sight in the state of Oregon.  

1. Crater Lake National Park

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