Oregon is the place that exudes natural beauty with the most enthusiasm and passion. This idyllic state in the Pacific Northwest includes ancient forests, glacier-carved mountain ranges, tranquil lakes and tranquil rivers. Nearly 95,000 square miles mean you can find a completely different kind of landscape or a new adventure, no matter your location.
These are some of the most stunning places in Oregon for nature lovers! They have everything you need to fall in love with The Beaver State, including dunes, mountain lakes, waterfalls, and canyons.
Oregon’s rugged Pacific coastline is a wind-and-water-battered labyrinth of dramatic sea cliffs and rock formations just dying to be explored. Still, arguably the most famous spot is Haystack Rock.
Haystack is located along Cannon Beach, a small community on the coast of Portland. It rises 235ft in the air, and its bulky shape marks the waterline.
Low tide allows visitors to walk near the base of the rock at low tide (but not too close as it’s a protected area for nesting birds such as tufted puffins). They can also visit the tide pools to see the tide pools and look for marine life, like starfish or sea anemones. Haystack Rock is not only a well-known symbol of Oregon, but it’s also a popular shot in the 80s movie The Goonies.
Columbia River Waterfalls
The beauty of the Pacific Northwest is that even though you live in big cities, you are never far from beautiful nature. The City of Bridges in Portland is a great example of this. It hugs the Columbia and Willamette Rivers and takes only half an hour to get to the Columbia River Gorge. Here you will find some of the most stunning waterfalls in the PNW.
These majestic falls plunge from the riverside cliffs that rise above the forest. The Columbia River Highway runs parallel to Interstate 84. Multnomah Falls is the most well-known. It tumbles in a double waterfall 620 feet down the cliff face. But there are many scenic waterfalls along the route that you can stop and admire, such as Wahkeena Falls, Horse Tail Falls, Wahkeena Falls and Latourell Falls.
7.700 years ago, a huge volcano in South-central Oregon erupted. These stories were passed down from Native American folklore. The volcano’s tip collapsed, creating a large, circular crater that eventually filled with water and created the stunning Crater Lake.
With its iconic island, the shimmering lake stretches more than six miles long and five miles wide from rim to rim. It is located in the base caldera. Woods have been planted along steep slopes and rims.
It is not only one of the most beautiful places in Oregon, but Crater lake (also a National Park), is the deepest in the United States. The snow-and-rain-fed water makes it among the cleanest in the world. Visitors can drive, cycle and walk around the rim of this prehistoric natural wonder today, thanks to roads and hiking trails. Yes, you can swim in one spot.
Oregon is often perceived as a dense forest of moss-drenched trees with constant rain and mist. You’ll find more landscapes like the Southwest or Mars if you drive east from the Cascades Mountains.
One example is the Owyhee canyons. This large expanse of rolling hills and sage-covered mountains, with meandering rivers and ramshackle canyons, carved out by desert rivers, is a great outdoor haven for hiking, rafting and rock climbing.
Red-rock canyons such as Leslie Gulch or the Honeycomb make it one of the most picturesque spots in Oregon. These have terraced cliffs made of sculpted rocks that glow in different colours when the sun shines. The canyonlands are in the most remote parts of southeastern Oregon, so there is little light pollution, which makes for spectacular stargazing.