When it comes to Oregon, people naturally think about the numerous great outdoor destinations that the Pacific Northwest has to offer. From the rugged trails and beautiful mountains, to the wild rivers and scenic coast, it’s almost overwhelming to consider all the choices that the state offers for those seeking a fun adventure.
While some people say that Oregon’s vacation ideas are endless, a good place to start is something the state has dubbed “The Seven Wonders of Oregon™”. What an idea! These wonders are some of the top Oregon destinations for outdoor enthusiasts, offering some of the best adventure experiences in the country.
Whether you’re into hiking, fishing, mountain climbing, or kayaking, you’ll never be short of options in the state of Oregon. With this in mind, we thought we’d give you some of the most beautiful and best places to visit in Oregon, so that you can start your adventures in an amazing place. Each one of these choices has been included for its unique contribution to the landscape of Oregon, and while not a complete list, it helps create a picture of everything the state truly offers.
1. Mt. Hood
Just 50 miles outside of Portland, this towering mountain is one of the most majestic in the world and also Oregon’s highest. The snow-covered peaks are just the start of this story: the mountain is also a dormant volcano.
2. Historic Timberline Lodge
Located on the south face of Mt. Hood, this lodge was built in the 1930’s. A popular attraction, it boasts the longest skiing season in the nation.
3. Bald Mountain Trail
A hike appropriate for the whole family, Bald Mountain Trail has some of the best views of Mt. Hood there are. With forested areas and an easy trip, this is a good choice for any age.
4. Lost Lake
With great trout and salmon fishing, this Oregon destination also has camping and cabins for an enjoyable getaway. There’s also plenty of other wildlife to see around the lake such as blacktail deer, and the occasional black bear and cougar.
5. Mt. Hood National Forest
With fishing, hiking, hunting, rafting, and more, this National Forest is the most visited of all the Forests in the US. With streams and lakes, it also has the beautiful Olallie Scenic Area.
6. Mt. Hood Railroad Tours
Boasting family activities and more, this spot is a popular ride through woodlands and orchards. It’s recommend you bring a camera as well to capture the many gorgeous landscapes you’ll see.
7. Crater Lake
Carved from a long ago collapsed volcanic mountain, this lake is replenished by rainfall alone and is the deepest in the US. The views of the azure waters are stunning, and have a sacred significance to Klamath tribe, who most likely witnessed the collapse of Mount Mazama.
8. Painted Hills
This outdoor destination peels back the layers of history, each with its own color. The Painted Hills are composed of richly stratified layers of rock and soil, creating a striking geographic formation unlike any other in the Northwest.
9. Smith Rock State Park
Billed as the birthplace of modern American climbing, this state park has rock climbing for all experience levels. It’s perfect for just about any kind of climbing you might be interested in. If hiking is your thing, check out Summit Trail and Misery Ridge, each offering excellent overlooks of the rock formations.
10. Pacific Crest Trail
The famed Pacific Crest Trail stretches over 400 miles through Oregon’s Cascade Range. The trail starts near Siskiyou Summit in the south, and finishes on the Bridge of the Gods over the Columbia River. Numerous lakes and magnificent mountain views are you rewards for hiking this stretch of the PTC.
11. The Wallowa Mountains
The Wallowas are part of the Seven Oregon Wonders, and for good reason. A horse ride, gondola, or back country hike into this area offers an extended view of the beautiful deserts, canyons, and mountains that surround it. Along with cabins and camping, there are several small towns that are perfect for a day trip with the family.
12. Hells Canyon National Recreation Area & Scenic Byway
Hells Canyon is the deepest gorge in North America, formed by the Snake River, creating the rift along the Oregon and Washington state border. The drive along the Byway is one of the most scenic in the country. Eagle eyed visitors can enjoy spotting some of the many pictographs and petroglyphs from early Native Americans.
13. Snake River
Much of the Snake River stretch through Oregon is a nationally designated Wild and Scenic River, originating in Yellowstone National Park and winding its way through Idaho and Oregon. The Snake is a popular destination for rafting, boating, and camping.
14. Columbia River Gorge
This gorge separates Washington from Oregon, and is the only waterway that can be navigated as it routes through the Cascades.
15. The Oregon Coast Trail
With over 400 miles of hiking, and remote beaches, it’s no wonder the Oregon Coast and the Oregon Coast Trial is considered one of the 7 Wonders of Oregon. The portion of the trail pictured is one of the most scenic and famous, called the Neahkahnie Mountain Trail, a Native American name that means “place of supreme deity”, with which we would have to agree!
16. Ecola State Park
This state park is both scenic and full of adventure. Picnicking and surfing are just some of the activities it offers along the coast at Tillamook Head. Hike any of the numerous trails to gain the amazing seaside bluff views of the Pacific Ocean
17. Devil’s Punchbowl
This unique geologic feature creates a wonderfully chaotic scene as the Pacific Ocean crashes and churns inside its hollow bowl. Take the time to explore the numerous tide pools nearby, as well as hike the cliffs for some whale watching.
18. Yachats, Waldport, and Seal Rock
Stretching along Oregon’s coast, this region is full of beaches and bays, rain forest and trails. Hiking and kayaking are popular activities for visitors of these rural coastal villages.
19. Oswald West State Park
Pristine beaches are hidden in lush rain forest at this park, providing visitors with chances to enjoy the waves or the paths. From surfing to swimming, its crystal waters are sure to bring you back for more.
20. Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area
After millions of years, the Oregon Dunes are the largest stretch of sand dunes in America. The area offers everything from off-roading, hiking, horse riding, camping, photographing, and more.
21. Deschutes River
This wonderful river is known the world over for spectacular fly fishing. Every year, countless fly fishing enthusiasts come from all over to enjoy the sport.
22. Rogue River
Located in the southwestern part of the state, this river is perfect for salmon fishing, photographer, or rafting. There are many parks, trails, and camping spots throughout the area.
23. Illinois River
The Illinois River, a tributary of the Rogue River, boasts some of the best stretches of canyon boating anywhere. Whether rafting or kayaking, skilled visitors can tackle the difficult rapids, like the frothing Green Wall Rapids.
24. McKenzie River National Recreation Trail
Known primarily for its mountain biking, this trail snakes through forest and around water. The Sahalie Falls is a must see when visiting this area.
25. Heceta Head Lighthouse Scenic Viewpoint
The Heceta Head Viewpoint and Lighthouse are registered National Historic Places. Heceta Head is more than just a gorgeous lighthouse perched atop rocky cliffs, as there is a trail offering exploration of the cove and beach to the south.
26. Upper and Lower Table Rock
So named because of their flat appearance, these two rock plateaus are made from volcanic lava and tower above the valley.
27. Owyhee Canyonlands
Full of canyons and river ways, these spot has been etched out by rivers over the ages. Hunting and rafting are popular here, as well as hiking and photography.
28. Nehalem Bay State Park
There are almost uncountable activities at this park, but the beach offers a popular spot for shelling, crabbing, and fishing. It also stands in the shadow of the lovely Neahkahnie Mountain.
29. Steens Mountain Backcountry Byway
This destination is true to its name: rugged and wild back country. With a handful of campgrounds, the area’s glacier gorges are a treat for any adventurer.
30. Cascasdes-Siskiyou National Monument
As the first U.S. National monument devoted to preserving the diversity of its area, this paradise is over 85,000 acres of rich landscapes. It’s most famous feature is Pilot Rock, a volcanic remnant jutting out 570 feet above the forest below, and on a good day you can see Mount Shasta far to the south.