Oregon is a big place. It stretches 400 miles across and is over 360 miles long. From seaside towns like Brookings and Cannon Beach to the high desert of eastern and central Oregon to the forests, mountains, and farms in between— this Pacific Northwest state’s diverse landscape has a lot to offer outdoor enthusiasts, foodies, families, and solo travelers alike.
Visit the breweries and restaurants of Portland, stay at the historic lodge at Crater Lake, or have a soak in one of the many public hot springs scattered about the state. There’s plenty of hiking, skiing, fishing, and camping throughout the many national and state parks and ski resorts. Or enjoy a completely different type of vacation, wine tasting through the Willamette Valley.
REGIONS OF OREGON
Central Oregon – A high-desert playground for everything under the sun — skiing, hiking, climbing, cycling, fishing, rafting, golf — and in the shade too.
Eastern Oregon – Vast landscapes where history and adventure collide — along canyons, twisting rivers, alpine wilderness and lonesome ghost towns.
Mt. Hood & Columbia River Gorge – An outdoor wonderland home to a tremendous river gorge, scenic vistas, gushing waterfalls and the state's highest peak.
Oregon Coast – 363 miles of stunning public coastline — the stuff dreams are made of — dotted with lighthouses, fishing villages and dramatic scenery.
Portland Region – A bustling urban core famous for its maker culture and communities ringed by forests and farms, rivers and rolling hills.
Southern Oregon – An ethos of arts and culture thriving in a land known for its wild rivers, deep caves and the awe-inspiring Crater Lake.
Willamette Valley – Woodsy cityscapes cradled by vineyards, forests and farms, inspiring crafters, adventurers and everyone in between.
Best Places to Visit in Oregon
Major Cities in Oregon
Portland: The largest city in the state is known for its picturesque parks, bridges, and bike paths, along with award-winning food trucks, microbreweries and coffee shops. Popular attractions include the Alberta Arts District, Japanese Garden, International Rose Test Garden, and Powell’s City of Books to name a few among many.
Eugene: Take a trip to the Museum of Natural and Cultural History and the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, located in the University of Oregon.
Bend: A hub for outdoor activities like skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, and climbing, this mountain town also has more breweries per capita than any other city in Oregon.
Florence: Visit sea lions at Sea Lion Cave, hike up to the Heceta Head Lighthouse for stunning views of the Pacific, or shop along the city’s Historic Old Town District.
Oregon State and National Parks
- Crater Lake National Park: Located in the Cascade Mountains, this park is known for its namesake Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the U.S.
- Mount Hood National Forest: The most visited National Forest in the U.S. offers many recreational activities like hiking, rafting, horseback riding, berry-picking and mushroom collecting, in addition to the old Oregon Trail.
- Ecola State Park: Enjoy several miles of hiking trails with panoramic views of the Pacific Coast at Cannon Beach.
- Deschutes National Forest: Kayak along the Deschutes River or snowboard at Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort within this national forest which encompasses 1.8 million acres along the east side of the Cascade Range.
7 Wonders of Oregon
Columbia River Gorge – The Columbia River Gorge was designated a National Scenic Area — the largest in America — for good reason. Dozens of awe-inspiring waterfalls spill from basalt cliffs, lining the Historic Columbia River Highway. You’d be hard-pressed to find vistas as stunning as these.
Crater Lake – The water is so blue, so deep, it’s no surprise it’s the deepest lake in America, and one of the deepest on earth. Surrounded by cliffs almost 2,000 feet high and boasting a picturesque island a violent volcanic past, Crater Lake is also home to hikes in old-growth forest and cross-country ski trips in the winter months.
Painted Hills – See millions of years of history revealed in the layers of mountains of earth, one color at a time. The hills get their name from the delicately colored yellow, gold, black and red stratifications in the soil. The Painted Hills are one of the three units that comprise the John Day Fossil Beds.
Oregon Coast – All 363 miles of Oregon’s coastline are free and public. That means endless opportunities to comb for agates or glass floats, catch your own Dungeness crab or razor clam, watch for whales, seals and puffins, make footprints in the sand or simply be captivated by a winter storm from inside a cozy beachfront lodge.
Smith Rock – Attracting climbers from every part of the globe are towers of volcanic ash rising like the spires of a cathedral out of the sage and dust of the high desert. At Smith Rock State Park there is sport and traditional climbing and bouldering, hiking and mountain biking and opportunities to spot golden eagles, prairie falcons, river otters and beavers.
The Wallowa – In the Wallowas, you can look down from an alpine summit and see the high desert of Indian country roll out in front of you in one direction, and then turn around and see past Hells Canyon into the next state, and some say all the way past it to the next one after that. The land, carved by the Oregon Trail, has hardly changed since pioneers crossed by wagon.
Oregon Scenic Byways - All American Roads
Pacific Coast Scenic Byway - Oregon’s Pacific coastline stretches for 363 magnificent miles/584 kilometers — and this world-class route traces it from border to border.
Historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway - About 14,000 years ago, cataclysmic floods scoured out the Columbia River Gorge. Early visionaries engineered an inspired drive along its towering walls. As America’s first scenic highway and a National Historic Landmark, this 70-mile/113-kilometer route is indeed the “King of Roads.”
Hells Canyon Scenic Byway - America’s deepest river gorge, Hells Canyon, and “Little Switzerland,” the Wallowa Mountains, star on this 208-mile/335-kilometer horseshoe route through the state’s northeast corner, the rich ancestral homeland of the Nez Perce tribe.
Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway - The high points are many on this volcano-to-volcano, 140-mile/ 225-kilometer drive, where eons of eruptions and lava flows left a fiery heritage of cinder cones, pumice plains and unforgettable Crater Lake - so notable, Oregon put it on its U.S. quarter. Crater Lake anchors this drive through Southern Oregon, a national park of such beauty that it belongs on everyone’s bucket list.
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