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Top 17 hidden gems to visit in Oregon

  1. Columbia River Gorge – This awe-inspiring natural wonder spans over 80 miles of scenic beauty carved by the mighty Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest. Visitors can relish the splendor of waterfalls, hike the trails with stunning views, and venture along the Historic Columbia River Highway – a magnificent garden path for the river.
  2. Smith Rock State Park – Towering rocks and boulders greet visitors at this park, a haven for climbers from all corners of the globe. For those not seeking to scale the heights, there are rugged trails and boulders to explore by hiking, mountain biking, or horseback riding.
  3. Crater Lake National Park – Nestled amidst towering cliffs and old-growth forests lie the US’s deepest lake, a true gem of the Pacific Northwest. Hiking, fishing, and scenic drives offer visitors an opportunity to appreciate the natural beauty of this spectacular park. But remember, the frigid water isn’t for the faint-hearted.
  4. The Oregon Garden – Sprawling across 80 acres of land, this botanical garden showcases the finest flora and fauna of the Pacific Northwest. The garden boasts a plethora of themed gardens, an outdoor art gallery, and even a children’s garden, reminiscent of Willy Wonka’s factory but dedicated to plants.
  5. The Painted Hills – As a part of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, the Painted Hills exhibit a marvel of nature with a kaleidoscope of colors created by volcanic ash and sedimentary deposits. Visitors can drive through the hills, hike the trails, and learn from the knowledgeable rangers, akin to a trip to an art gallery but with the canvas of Mother Nature.
  6. Mount Hood – Towering above the surrounding landscape, this majestic snow-capped peak is a must-see for outdoor enthusiasts. In the winter, hit the slopes for skiing and snowboarding, or embark on a snowshoeing adventure. And in the summer, enjoy scenic drives, hike on the mountain’s many trails, and take in the stunning vistas from its summit – it’s like a year-round playground for nature lovers.
  7. Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area – Get ready for an adventure in one of the most unique landscapes in the country. Over 40 miles of sandy terrain along the Oregon coast, these dunes will transport you to a world straight out of a movie. Hike, camp, and drive off-road vehicles through the dunes, and experience the thrill of exploring this sandy wonderland – it’s like being in a giant natural playground, but with the Pacific Ocean as your backdrop.
  8. Oregon Caves National Monument – Journey underground and discover a fascinating world of stunning limestone formations, including stalactites, stalagmites, and columns. Explore the caves with guided tours and learn about the history and geology of this incredible natural wonder. Above ground, enjoy hiking, camping, and ranger-led programs in the beautiful forest setting – it’s like stepping into a hidden world, but with endless opportunities for adventure.
  9. Silver Falls State Park – Immerse yourself in the magic of cascading waterfalls in this stunning state park, home to some of Oregon’s most picturesque falls, including the majestic 177-foot South Falls. Hike or mountain bike along the winding trails, fish in the park’s clear streams, and camp beneath the towering trees. Be sure to visit the historic Silver Falls Lodge for a glimpse into Oregon’s rich past – it’s like living in a fairy tale, but with the real-life wonder of nature.
  10. Siuslaw National Forest – Experience the breathtaking beauty of the Oregon Coast at this magnificent forest, where over 40 miles of pristine coastline meet sandy beaches, coastal forests, and historic lighthouses. Keep your eyes peeled for glimpses of majestic elk, black bears, and soaring bald eagles as you explore this wonderland of nature.
  11. Hells Canyon National Recreation Area – Get ready for the adventure of a lifetime at this one-of-a-kind recreation area situated on the border of Oregon and Idaho. Marvel at the stunning vistas of North America’s deepest river gorge as you explore by raft, hiking, or horseback riding. Take a thrilling scenic jet boat tour and keep your eyes peeled for bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and black bears that call this rugged terrain home.
  12. Wallowa Lake – Nestled in the Wallowa Mountains, this lake is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Visitors can enjoy fishing for trout and kokanee salmon, hiking on the nearby trails, or taking a scenic chairlift ride to the top of Mt. Howard. The lake is also a popular spot for boating, swimming, and picnicking.
  13. Rogue River National Forest – Located in the southwestern part of the state, this forest features rugged mountains, deep canyons, and the wild and scenic Rogue River. Visitors can explore the forest by hiking, fishing, or camping. The forest is also home to several species of wildlife, including black bears, mountain lions, and Roosevelt elk.
  14. Cape Perpetua Scenic Area – Nestled along the breathtaking Oregon coast, this scenic area is a haven for adventure seekers and nature lovers alike. Hike to the top of Cape Perpetua for jaw-dropping panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean or explore the fascinating tidepools and unique geological formations at the base of the cape. The area also boasts several hiking trails through lush old-growth forests that are sure to enchant you.
  15. Trillium Lake – Discover a hidden gem near Mount Hood that is sure to take your breath away. This pristine lake is perfect for fishing, boating, and hiking, and offers awe-inspiring views of the majestic mountain. Take a leisurely stroll on the nearby trails and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the surrounding forest. Winter sports enthusiasts can enjoy snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter wonderland.
  16. Deschutes National Forest – Escape to this vast, rugged forest in the heart of Oregon that beckons to be explored. With over 1.8 million acres of pristine wilderness, there’s no shortage of outdoor activities to enjoy, from hiking and fishing to camping and wildlife spotting. Winter sports enthusiasts can indulge in skiing and snowmobiling in the breathtaking snow-covered landscape.
  17. Diamond Lake – Immerse yourself in the beauty of this sparkling lake, situated near the awe-inspiring Crater Lake. Fishing, boating, and hiking are popular activities, but the real draw is the stunning views of the towering Mount Thielsen and the surrounding peaks. The nearby trails through the lush forest are perfect for a leisurely hike, while winter sports enthusiasts can indulge in snowmobiling and cross-country skiing.