Best Places to Visit in Oregon: Great Coasts and Landscapes

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No place portrays the wild beauty of America’s Pacific Northwest quite like Oregon. Although the region has plenty of rich cultural offerings, the diversity of the landscape is undeniably its best attraction. From pristine beaches and rugged coastlines to towering volcanic mountains and thick, green forests, Oregon’s landscape offers endless possibilities.


Northern Oregon: Mount Hood, Columbia River, and Hells Canyon

The state’s northern coast is a popular vacation spot for those who love spectacular views of coastal cliffs. It’s the ideal place in Oregon to soak up some sun and see iconic rock formations, such as the famous Haystack Rock.

The state’s northern coastal region is easily accessible due to Cannon Beach, a nearby town that offers plenty of lodging, camping, and dining options. As a popular beach town and former arts community, Cannon Beach was recently declared one of the best small towns in the state of Oregon .


At the state’s northernmost point, the coastline meets the Columbia River. Further inland and a short drive from Portland is the Columbia River Gorge. Formed by catastrophic Ice Age floods, the valley is an astonishing 112 km long.

Along the valley’s steep walls you will find some of the country’s most beautiful waterfalls. These breathtaking cascades can easily be seen by hopping on the historic Columbia River Highway, a 120 km winding scenic road.

In addition to being home to some of the state’s most stunning scenery, the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area is also a hotspot for those looking to try their hand at water sports, such as windsurfing or kiteboarding in nearby Hood River. Other attractions also include the historic Mount Hood Railroad and several acclaimed wineries.

Just to the south you will find Mt. Hood National Forest. Its namesake, Mt. Hood, boasts being the tallest mountain in Oregon. As Portland’s backdrop, it has become an iconic image of the state. With its many ski areas and endless kilometers of cross-country trails, Mt. Hood the ideal getaway for snow fans looking for Oregon’s best slopes.

Located along Oregon’s eastern border, one finds the dramatic landscape of the Hells Canyon Recreation Area, which is deeper than the Grand Canyon . At its deepest, the canyon reaches as low as 8,000 feet.

Since the area is a pristine nature reserve, there are only a few paved roads leading to Hells Canyon. Most visitors choose to go there and experience its untouched wilderness by boat or on horseback. The less adventurous can choose to admire Hells Canyon during a scenic helicopter ride.


Southern Oregon: Crater Lake National Park and Bend

Just south of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is Bend, a paradise that offers a dramatic array of landscapes. From the region’s lakes and streams to the snow-capped mountains, there’s no shortage of things to see in Bend.

Here you can ski, go on scenic hikes, kayak in the area’s streams, or fish at one of Bend’s popular fishing areas. With its mild climate and year-round sunshine, Bend is a popular tourist destination at all times of the year.

As the state’s most popular outdoor attraction, there’s no arguing that Oregon’s natural gems aren’t complete without mentioning Crater Lake. Interestingly, the calm blue color is what remains of a violent volcanic eruption. At nearly 2,000 feet, it is the deepest lake in the country.

With an astonishing 145 km of trails, Crater Lake is a hiking enthusiast’s dream destination. But visitors who want to visit the lake without hiking can take the 40-mile drive by car , which circles the lake and stops at some of the prettiest areas.


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