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Oregon Bucket List: 30 Best Outdoors Places to Visit

Heceta Head Lighthouse at Sunset

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.

Mount Hood
Mt. Hood by Zach Dischner/Flickr via CC2.0

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.

Timberline Lodge
Timberline Lodge, Mt. Hood by Ryan Harvey/Flickr via CC 2.0

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.

Bald Mountain Trail
Thomas Shahan/Flickr

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.

Lost Lake


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.

Mt. Hood National Forest
BLM Oregon/Flickr

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.

Mt. Hood Railroad Tours
Ryan Harvey/Flickr

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.

Crater Lake National Park


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.

Painted Hills


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.

Smith Rock State Park in the Spring


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.

Pacific Crest Trail
BLM Oregon/Flickr

 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.

The Wallowa Mountains
Baker County Tourism/Flickr

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.

Hells Canyon National Recreation Area & Scenic Byway
Baker County Tourism/Flickr

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.

Snake River
Baker County Tourism/Flickr

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.

Columbia River Gorge
Zach Dishner/Flickr

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!

The Oregon Coast Trail
Thomas Shahan/Flickr

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

Ecola State Park
Ralph Arvesen/Flickr

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.

Devil’s Punchbowl
Wplynn/Flickr

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.

Yachats, Waldport, and Seal Rock
Keith Kendrick/Flickr

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.

Oswald West State Park
Paul Hamilton/Flickr

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.

Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area
Michael Renfrow/Flickr

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.

Deschutes River
BLM Oregon/Flickr

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.

Rogue River
US Dept. of Interior/Flickr

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.

Zachary Collier/Flickr

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.

McKenzie River National Recreation Trail
Dave H/Flickr

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.

Heceta Head Lighthouse at Sunset


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.

Upper and Lower Table Rock
Andrew Seles/Flickr

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.

Owyhee Canyonlands
BLM Oregon/Flickr

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.

Jhm_/Flickr

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.

Steens Mountain Backcountry Byway
BLM Oregon/Flickr

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.

Cascasdes-Siskiyou National Monument
BLM Oregon/Flickr

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