That Oregon is an awesome destination with a myriad of natural attractions is a well-known fact. The challenging bit is deciding which destinations to go to. And since the options are so many, it’ll take more than one visit to see and explore it all.
Whether you prefer a trek amidst lush deciduous forests or sandy coastlines, swimming in tranquil lakes, hiking on a rocky mountainside, or watching a magnificent waterfall cascade down a cliff, you’ll be spoilt for choice here.
The Most Beautiful Places in Oregon
From cascading waterfalls to wind-sculpted dunes, Oregon presents a unique mix of attractions in the Pacific Northwest. These sites have made Oregon a tourist haven on America’s West Coast. An abundance of varied physical features from majestic mountains and rivers, unperturbed turquoise-hued lakes, and a deeply remote canyon dot the landscape making it every hiker’s dream.
Here are the places that shouldn’t miss on your itinerary when you visit Oregon.
The iconic rock curiously protrudes to 235 feet high up along Cannon Beach. It’s undoubtedly the signature feature of Oregon’s coast that’s just over an hour’s drive from Portland.
The gigantic rock has basked in the limelight being featured on The Goonies, a popular film of the 80s.
Its base shows up at low tides when hikers can get a more intimate glimpse, although you can’t get too close as movement is restricted since it’s a segregated zone for the nesting of certain birds.
Besides the marvelous Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach is a great place for watching sunsets, surfing, watching tufted puffins, and having bonfires with friends and family during summer.
2. Multnomah Falls
Multnomah Falls is a natural wonder of twin falls. The spectacular falls cascade down a deep valley in the Columbia River Gorge swathed in a blanket of indigenous forests. It’s the tallest and most popular waterfall in Oregon, and it’s not difficult to see why.
Come fall, the surrounding dense greenery turns into a colorful display. As the leaves take on a rich blend of orange and yellow, they make this spectacular location quite photogenic. Half an hour’s drive from Portland gets you to these breathtaking twin falls. The Benson Bridge, a man-made arch bridge, intersects the two falls and is a vantage point to view the upper falls.
It’s a popular site especially over weekends so I’d recommend you schedule your visit midweek if you like it peaceful.
3. Hells Canyon
Hells Canyon is not for the faint-hearted. It’s beautiful, wild, and remote. The 10-mile canyon in northeast Oregon forms part of the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. It’s the deepest river gorge within North America at about 8,000 feet in the deepest sections; that’s about 2,000 feet deeper than the renowned Grand Canyon.
The vast 215,000-acre rugged wilderness features the formidable Snake River that crawls along the canyon. This all-year-round recreation destination attracts tourists from the world over.
The main recreational activities here are camping, hiking, jet boat tour rides, and fishing in the Snake River.
To sample this gorgeous wilderness, go with a plan.
4. Crater Lake
Arguably one of the most picturesque physical attractions in Oregon, Crater Lake is a caldera. That means it came about thousands of years ago from a monumental eruption of Mount Mazama. The eruption led to the formation of a huge hollow basin when the mountain top fell apart. As water filled the crater, the stunning lake emerged.
Crater Lake is a National Park. It also boasts of being the deepest lake in the USA at 1,949 feet at it’s deepest. The lake extends lengthwise to over six miles with a width stretching five miles. You can ride or walk on the hiking trails along the steep slopes around this gorgeous prehistoric formation and if you wish, get to swim at a designated place. But beware the waters are pretty chilly.
The lake water is extremely pure being exclusively snow or rain-fed conferring the lake its characteristic picture-perfect turquoise hue.
Adventure at the lake will be incomplete if you do not explore the multiple trails from which you’ll have spectacular views of the phenomenal scenery.
5. Portland Japanese Gardens
Looking to tour one of the most beautiful places in Oregon? Explore the immaculately manicured Portland Japanese Gardens where natural beauty blossoms. The extensive gardens feature eight authentic gardens intelligently crafted and skillfully delivered for a perfect space for meditative reflection. Beauty and purpose ooze from every inch of the botanical masterpiece.
Hallmarks of this garden include pure streams that snake their way through the landscape, stone gardens, placid ponds, and purposely landscaped spaces that complete the terrain.
Massive expansion at the garden in 2017 brought forth a string of delightful buildings, among them a bonsai terrace, a tea house, entry garden, among others. The tea garden is a must-visit where you can enjoy beverages from the restaurant and sample exquisite gift items at the gift shop.
If that’s not all, the gardens offer grand views of Mt Hood, the towering feature over Portland’s horizon.
Getting to Bend can be a taxing exercise, but pure bliss is what you get in return. Tucked between the Deschutes River and the Cascades Mountains, the city of Bend is home to more than 90,000 residents. This unique location offers a range of attractions for nature lovers.
Imagine climbing to the top of a volcanic mountain in a unique setting flanked with diverse flora. At the same time, you get a towering view of surrounding lava fields, distant mountain ranges, and the city…in a car. Impossible? Well, that’s exactly what you get when you visit “The Lava Butte” in Bend. The car gets you close to the very top of the extinct volcano. From there. you can easily survey the lush pine trees.
The Deschutes River is one more feather in the cap of Bend’s multiple attractions. It’s no wonder Bend stands as one of the most beautiful places in Oregon.
7. Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm
The attractions in Oregon are not only numerous, they’re varied. Against the backdrop of Mt Hood stand vast expanses of innumerable rows of up to 80 varieties of tulips in the plains of Willamette Valley. This man-made wonder in Oregon’s central valley plays host to droves of visitors every spring. Most tourists come here to commemorate the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival.
With near-perfect weather conditions for agriculture, the tulip reigns supreme on over forty acres of a farm owned by the Iverson family. Apart from the awe-inspiring color-schemed tulips, the valley is famed for its agricultural exploits. The land thrives in fruits, vegetables, and wine production.
Visiting what is one of America’s largest tulip farms is a dream come true for photography enthusiasts who’d relish the opportunity to capture these photogenic scenes to decorate their Instagram sites.
8. Toketee Falls
Tucked in the Umpqua National Forest, Toketee Falls is definitely one of the most beautiful places in Oregon. More to that, it’s perhaps the most enchanting waterfalls in Oregon. Whereas it isn’t the largest, it offers sensational scenery making it the most celebrated of the waterfalls in Southern Oregon.
The easily accessible waterfall is sandwiched in plush natural forests and flows between pillars of what seems like granulated rock formations.
Do not miss the opportunity to witness the waters crashing down in a tumultuous crescendo from the waterfall viewpoint that’s not far from the designated car park.
9. Painted Hills
Colorful striations of varying intensities of green, gold, red and black grace the Painted Hills of Mitchell, Oregon in a display of outlandish aestheticism. It’s no wonder that the Painted Hills have been named among the 7 wonders of the state. Although the hills are remotely located, it’s worth the effort.
These stratified layers of color comprise the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument that offers a preview of the geology of prehistoric times and the impact of climate change over the years. Changes in light and precipitation cause fluctuations in the intensity of the colors o the hills.
10. Boardman Corridor
On the sprawling southern coast lies the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. It’s a 12-mile stretch encompassing alluring beaches, coastal tree forests, inviting grasslands, and man-made forests linking Brookings and Gold Beach towns.
It enjoys warmer coastal weather and you’d enjoy panoramic views on the stretch.
Perched amidst this stretch is a 25,000-acre plantation of intentionally arranged poplar trees that make up the Boardman tree farm. The trees’ uniformity and the neat arrangement in what appears to be endless rows is an irresistible temptation for many a photographer, particularly in fall when the colors of the foliage come alive.
11. The Oregon Dunes
Wind-sculpted dunes that rival city skyscrapers adorn the 40 miles of the Oregon coastline between Coo’s Bay and Florence. The Oregon Dune National Recreation Area consists of dunes of white sand that rise to astounding heights exceeding 500 feet above sea level to form clusters of corrugated peaks and valleys that sprawl over the vast coastline.
The undulating landscape taunts photography lovers and outdoor devotees to indulge. In the dunes and on the beach hiking, swimming, kayaking, and horse riding are some of the recreational activities that flourish all year long.
You could also lounge peacefully along the sandy dunes savoring the warm sandy beach on the seaside while having a glimpse of the dense greenery in the opposite direction.
12. Three Sisters Wilderness
The Three Sisters Wilderness is a vast stretch covering over 280,000 acres within the forested area of Williamette National Forest and Deschutes. The name is derived from the three prominent peaks of the Cascade Ranges, namely the North, Middle, and South Sister.
From atop Mackenzie Pass, you get the finest view of the three peaks that punctuate the skyline steeply ascending over the topography to over 10,000 feet. The scenery is dominated by prehistoric volcanic activity and lava flow evidenced by the numerous glacier mountains and lakes, and the lava flows. The Collier Glacier can be spotted on North Sister.
The Three Sisters wilderness is the go-to-place for mountaineering, hiking, and watersport lovers as it has an abundance of hiking trails such as the Pacific Crest Trail.
13. Willamette Wine Valley
The Willamette Wine Valley is a vast expanse of vineyards that stretches over 150 miles in the Oregon countryside. Rows upon rows of vines sprawl the hillsides extending to the forest edges and mountain bases. Over 500 wineries are found here producing a steady stream of the best wines in the United States.
As you drive through the valley, endeavor to visit some of the most distinguished vineyards like Domain Drouhin, Argyle, Bergstrom, and Adelsheim, to name but a few.
Wine tasting is a favorite recreation activity as you sample the multiple wineries in the area in such a tranquil setup. You’d want to visit some of the most prominent hideaways nestled in the vast valley to dine and wash it down with the best wines. Allison Inn resort is a most-famed resort in which you can lounge, indulge in some recreation activities, and enjoy an enviable view of the vineyards.
14. Wallowa Mountains
Sometimes referred to as the “Alps of Oregon”, these mountain ranges hidden faraway in northeast Oregon are a marvel to behold. What makes the Wallowa Mountains unique is that they’re mabble-capped.
An assortment of impressive natural features makes Wallowa a tourist mecca with mind-boggling magnificence. The picture-perfect Wallowa Lake at the foot of the mountain, several lofty waterfalls, pristine blue-hued streams, and exuberant forests complete the natural mosaic that will leave you in awe when mother nature puts her best foot forward.
Fortunately, there’s a man-made tramway that makes the top of Mount Howard easily accessible. From the tramway the view down is incredible. The mountain top is perfect as a camping site, and for biking, mountain climbing, and hiking as they are biking trails. The view from the top is heavenly.
15. Eagle Creek Trail
The serpentine trail in the Columbia River Gorge follows the Eagle Creek. The trail set in a dense alpine forest features spectacular waterfalls, unique canyons draped in moss, and luxuriant forests. To say that Eagle Creek is a beautiful destination is an understatement. There’s no doubt it’s one of the most beautiful places in Oregon.
16. Jefferson Park
Mount Jefferson stands as the centerpiece of Jefferson Park. The park is an expansive rustic and scenic wilderness sprawled over 100,000 acres and accessible by trails of over 160 miles. The Pacific Crest Trail snakes its way through this park with a panoramic view of majestic mountains and meadows of indigenous flowers that stretches for 40 miles.
17. Silver Falls
Captivating may begin to define Silver Falls. Located at the foot of the Cascade Mountains lies this miracle of nature that comprises close to a dozen towering waterfalls set in a lush paradise. The waterfalls cascade down cliffs amidst a vibrant forest of trees that come into full color over fall.
18. Lithia Park
Crafted to be one of the most scenic urban spaces in Oregon, Lithia Park was designed by John McLaren, a renowned architect who was the brainchild behind San Francisco’s iconic Golden Park. The colossal park consists of close to 100 acres of nature trails, fountains, greenery, and pathways downtown Ashland.
Lithia Park makes awesome public spaces ideal for picnics and family meetings. You can also take a quiet stroll on bridges that straddle over rivers and streams.
If you think we missed any, please let us know in the comments below.
We’d love to update the article and make it as complete and thorough as it can get.