Oregon’s 50 most beautiful places

Oregon is an incredibly beautiful place.

That much we all can agree on. But we here at The Oregonian/OregonLive – always game for a ranked list – couldn’t help but ask: What are the most beautiful places in Oregon?

Is it someplace in the majestic Cascades? Out on the wild coast? Somewhere far out in the high desert? There are beautiful places in every corner of the state, but which one takes the cake?

Let’s be clear: This exercise is EXTREMELY subjective. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so this list is naturally skewed toward our own eyes. More than likely, you disagree. You might think the mountains are underwhelming, or that the coast is overrated. We’d say you’re wrong on both accounts, but that doesn’t mean your opinion isn’t valid.

Instead of grumbling, let us know your own most beautiful places! And while you’re at it, consider ordering a copy of our new book, “Oregon’s Natural Treasures,” which is a (not ranked) look at all the incredible places around our state.

For the ranking, we considered three criteria: natural beautydiversity and majesty. In other words, places that are beautiful, with different kinds of things to see, and that inspire that sense of awe and wonder.

Jamie Hale/The Oregonian

50. Drake Park

The lovely 13-acre park in downtown Bend features Mirror Pond, mountain views and a beautiful wooden bridge. Just watch out for the geese.

Jamie Hale/The Oregonian

49. Blue Mountains

Rising above the Umatilla Plateau, the Blue Mountains are by no means the most majestic in Oregon, but their many rolling folds are a beautiful sight in northeast Oregon.

Jamie Hale/The Oregonian

48. Coast Range

Where wild coastal rainforest remains, the Coast Range is a lush wonderland of fern and moss, but after generations of logging the mountain range is now a patchwork quilt of clear cuts and young growth.

Terry Richard/The Oregonian

47. Salt Creek Falls

The 286-foot waterfall in the central Cascades is a gem, pouring off a cliff face of columnar basalt, once carved by glaciers and filled in with lava.

Kristyna Wentz-Graff/The Oregonian

46. Willamette Valley Wine Country

The world-class pinot noir helps, but there’s something just so picturesque about the rolling hills and vineyards tucked away on the northern end of the Willamette Valley.

Jamie Hale/The Oregonian

45. Skylight Cave

One of Oregon’s most fascinating natural phenomena, Skylight Cave is found on the dry side of the Cascades, where late spring light aligns with three holes in the roof of the cave.

Terry Richard/The Oregonian

44. Strawberry Mountain Wilderness

The 68,700-acre wilderness in eastern Oregon encompasses the lovely Strawberry Mountains and seven alpine lakes – rarities in the arid region of the state.

Terry Richard/The Oregonian

43. Summer Lake

Summer Lake exists at a point of transition, from the greener hills of southern Oregon to the empty expanse of the high desert. The alkali lake is home to a huge variety of birds, which flock to its waters seasonally.

Steven Nehl/The Oregonian

42. Trillium Lake

There are a lot of pretty lakes on Mount Hood, but Trillium Lake’s close proximity to the peak means spectacular mountain views.

Terry Richard/The Oregonian

41. Elkhorn Mountains

The wild mountains of eastern Oregon are populated with mountain goats and, come summer, mountain bikers and backpackers, who traverse the 23-mile Elkhorn Crest Trail to reach the peak, Rock Creek Butte.

Stephanie Yao Long/The Oregonian

40. Fruit Loop

The orchards of the Hood River Valley are conveniently cobbled together on what is known as the Fruit Loop, where apple trees and vineyards frame views of Mount Hood.

Jamie Hale/The Oregonian

39. The Cove Palisades

The confluence of three big Oregon rivers – Deschutes, Crooked and Metolius – occurs at the manmade Lake Billy Chinook, which now fills the deep desert canyons just east of the Cascades.

Courtesy of National Park Service

38. Oregon Caves

Known as the “marble halls of Oregon” (thanks to their rare composition of marble instead of limestone) the Oregon Caves are a fascinating cave system buried deep in southern Oregon.

Jamie Hale/The Oregonian

37. Lithia Park

One of the most beautiful urban parks in Oregon, Lithia Park is nearly 100 acres of paved pathways, trails and green space that run alongside Ashland Creek. The park was designed by John McLaren, the landscape architect responsible for Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.

Jamie Hale/The Oregonian

36. Cottonwood Canyon

The John Day River flows through beautiful Cottonwood Canyon, which is lush with high desert life, from sagebrush to cottonwood trees, and a wide variety of wildlife.

Terry Richard/The Oregonian

35. Oregon Dunes

The 54-mile complex of sand dunes covers roughly 40,000 acres, making it the largest dune system on the West Coast of North America. The otherworldly sight was the inspiration for the science fiction classic “Dune.”

Jamie Hale/The Oregonian

34. Newberry Volcano

Several volcanic attractions – lava tubes, an obsidian flow, large calderas – converge at the Newberry Volcano, once a mountain peak that collapsed in a catastrophic eruption.

Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian

33. Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm

One of the most beautiful manmade attractions in the Willamette Valley, the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm is a colorful, thoughtfully created display that attracts flocks of visitors every spring.

Terry Richard/The Oregonian

32. Cascade Head

The gorgeous headland on the central Oregon coast is prized for its ecological diversity, home to butterflies, rare plants and an experimental coastal forest. Grassy hillside trails lead to sweeping vistas of the Pacific Ocean.

Terry Richard/The Oregonian

31. Broken Top

One of the most distinct Cascade mountains, Broken Top is known for its turquoise glacial lakes near the unique-shaped peak, and the large amphitheater carved out of its southern side.

Courtesy of Robin Loznak

30. Shore Acres

An unexpected collision of the natural and manmade, Shore Acres is a state park perched on the sandstone cliffs of the southern Oregon coast, home to several beautiful gardens that light up in winter.

Jamie Francis/The Oregonian

29. Alvord Desert

The Alvord Desert playa is a wondrously empty expanse, bordered by Steens Mountain on one side, and the seemingly endless Great Basin on the other.

Jamie Hale/The Oregonian

28. Mosier Plateau, Memaloose Hills and Rowena Crest

Wildflowers abound in the Columbia River Gorge, but the bend in the river that includes these three areas is the absolute best, bursting with yellow, purple and red flowers in spring.

Ian Malkasian/The Oregonian

27. Sky Lakes Wilderness

More than 110,000 acres of wilderness, with three lake basins along the crest of the Cascades, the Sky Lakes Wilderness is a gorgeous getaway in southern Oregon.

Courtesy of Jeremy Fox/ONDA

26. Owyhee Canyonlands

Considered one of the wildest regions in the contiguous United States, the Owyhee Canyonlands of southeast Oregon is a rugged maze of chasms, badlands and desert landscape along the Owyhee River.

Stephanie Yao Long/The Oregonian

25. Timberline

Home to year-round skiing, a beautiful historic lodge (as seen in “The Shining) and a gorgeous look at the peak of Mount Hood, the Timberline Lodge & Ski Area is easily one of the most iconic destinations in the Cascade Mountains.

Jamie Hale/The Oregonian

24. Rogue River Canyon

The wild canyon follows the rolling Rogue River as it cuts through the Klamath Mountains to the southern Oregon coast, home to black bears, beautiful madrone trees and hardy adventurers.

Thomas Boyd/The Oregonian

23. Oneonta Gorge

People flock to Oneonta Gorge for good reason: Even though you have to wade to get in, the moss-covered canyon walls, clear water and towering waterfall at the end are like a scene out of a fairy tale.

NOTE: The damage to Oneonta Gorge from the Eagle Creek fire is not yet clear, and the area is currently closed to the public.

Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian

22. International Rose Test Garden

The International Rose Test Garden is the pride and joy of Portland, with more than 10,000 rose bushes of 650 different varieties. The garden first opened in 1917 to showcase the flower that had already become synonymous with the city, and today the park attracts about 700,000 visitors every year.

Bruce Ely/The Oregonian

21. Haystack Rock

Instantly recognizable and with generations of admirers, Haystack Rock is inarguably the single most iconic landmark on the Oregon coast. Its memorable profile lords over Cannon Beach, and come low tide the intertidal life on its lower reaches becomes accessible.

Molly J. Smith/The Oregonian

20. Opal Creek

The Opal Creek Wilderness, found in the western foothills of the Cascade Mountains, draws throngs of people to the clear pools on the North Santiam River. With cascading waterfalls, tall cliffs and old-growth forest, it’s one of the most scenic spots in western Oregon.

Jamie Hale/The Oregonian

19. Cape Perpetua

From Cook’s Chasm and Thor’s Well on the rocky shore below, to the stone shelter on the cliffs above the ocean, to the giant Sitka spruce and winding trails of the forests just inland, Cape Perpetua is a phenomenally beautiful spot from all angles.

Jamie Hale/The Oregonian

18. Blue Basin

The blue-hued canyon at the John Day Fossil Beds is an incredible, otherworldly sight, made up of cerulean claystone that ranges from bright blue to seafoam green depending on the sun. Perhaps even more incredible are the prehistoric fossils found within the canyon walls.

Terry Richard/The Oregonian

17. Oswald West

Stretching along four miles of coastline, Oswald West State Park boasts spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, including vistas from atop Cape Falcon and Neahkahnie Mountain. The beach below – accessible after a short walk through the coastal forest – is popular among surfers, fishers and day-trippers alike.

Flickr/Pinchof 2.0

16. Crown Point

Perched on the cliffs high above the river, Crown Point offers one of the very best views of the Columbia River Gorge. The Vista House, found on the point, is a beautiful stone building erected in 1917. They don’t call it the “crown jewel” of the gorge for nothing.

Terry Richard/The Oregonian

15. Steens Mountain

Standing at roughly 9,700 feet tall, Steens Mountain is the highest point in eastern Oregon, home to a rugged high desert wilderness and deep canyons filled with aspen trees that turn beautiful shades of yellow and orange come fall. It’s an especially impressive sight seen from the neighboring Alvord Desert.

Torsten Kjellstrand/The Oregonian

14. McKenzie River

The McKenzie River begins at Clear Lake in the Cascade Mountains, running 90 miles to its confluence with the Willamette River near Eugene. Along the way are beautiful forested trails for hikers and mountain bikers, where you can journey along a picture-perfect mountain river.

Jamie Francis/The Oregonian

13. Three Sisters Wilderness

The Three Sisters rise high above gorgeous meadows and lakes inside a sprawling wilderness area covering more than 285,000 acres of alpine beauty. Whether summiting the peaks or hiking around them, few places better encapsulate Oregon’s natural bounty.

Jamie Hale/The Oregonian

12. Eagle Creek

The winding forested trail along Eagle Creek in the Columbia River Gorge is home to several stunning waterfalls, moss-covered canyons and lush forest. In 2017, a teenager sparked the Eagle Creek fire with a firecracker, severely burning the area. The extent of the damage is unclear, but at its best, Eagle Creek is a stunningly beautiful destination.

NOTE: The damage to Eagle Creek from the Eagle Creek fire is not yet clear, and the area is currently closed to the public.

Randy L. Rasmussen/The Oregonian

11. Multnomah Falls

Oregon’s tallest waterfall is one of the most awesome sights in the state, a wonder compounded by its place in the incredible Columbia River Gorge, and the trails that wind up to other gorgeous waterfalls upstream. The man-made components — Benson Bridge and the Multnomah Falls Lodge — only add to its beauty.

Motoya Nakamura/The Oregonian

10. Portland Japanese Garden

The impeccably manicured Portland Japanese Garden features stone gardens, tranquil ponds and many tucked-away spaces fit for quiet meditation. In 2017, the garden unveiled a big expansion that added several gorgeous buildings, including a tea house, bonsai terrace, entry garden and Castle Wall. The intention and attention to detail makes the Japanese Garden truly special, getting the most out of every inch of the beautiful space.

Jamie Hale/The Oregonian

9. Cascade-Siskiyou

Considered an “ecological wonderland,” the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument exists at the confluence of the Cascade, Siskiyou and Klamath mountains, home to many species of butterflies, wildflowers and wildlife. From its highest reaches, you can stare south to Mount Shasta, north to Mount McLoughlin and out to the reaches of southern Oregon.

Terry Richard/The Oregonian

8. Hells Canyon

The deepest river gorge in North America, Hells Canyon plunges more than 7,900 feet at its highest point – nearly 2,000 feet deeper than the Grand Canyon. Isolated in the northeast corner of Oregon, the canyon above the mighty Snake River is rugged and wild, the scourge of many parties of pioneers who perished trying to explore it.

Jamie Francis/The Oregonian

7. Smith Rock

There’s something magnetic about Smith Rock. It might be the stark natural beauty, the way the castle-like rock formations rise majestically above the winding Crooked River, or maybe it’s the freedom offered to rock climbers and hikers who roam the thousands of routes and miles of trails in the Oregon state park.

Jamie Hale/The Oregonian

6. Silver Falls

Few places capture the magic of Oregon nature like Silver Falls. In the lush, natural wonderland in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, nearly a dozen gorgeous waterfalls cascade from high, moss-covered cliffs. A forest of evergreen and deciduous trees fill the canyons in between, making the state park especially beautiful come fall and spring.

Steven Nehl/The Oregonian

5. Crater Lake

Technically a volcanic caldera, Crater Lake is the deepest in the United States, at 1,943 feet deep. The lake’s famously beautiful blue-hued water is due to its remarkable purity, as algal growth is limited to thick belts of moss on the walls of the crater, where light is able to penetrate.

Jamie Hale/The Oregonian

4. Boardman Corridor

The 12-mile Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor runs between the towns of Gold Beach and Brookings on the southern Oregon coast. Home to warmer temperatures, stunning sea stacks and arches, hidden beaches, beautiful grassy headlands and coastal forests, the corridor might be the most scenic stretch of coastline in the state.

Jamie Hale/The Oregonian

3. Painted Hills

Layers of red, yellow and brown color the Painted Hills unit of the John Day Fossil Beds, practically the spitting image of “otherworldly.” The layers of sediment were deposited over tens of millions of years and illustrate the vast volcanic flows that shaped the area, as well as the changing climate over time. The colors of the Painted Hills change regularly based on light and moisture levels.

Ian Malkasian/The Oregonian

2. Jefferson Park

Mount Jefferson stands majestically at the heart of Jefferson Park, an immensely popular and stunningly beautiful area in the central Cascade Mountains. The sprawling wilderness area covers more than 100,000 acres and contains 163 miles of trails, including a particularly scenic 40-mile stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail. The meadows of wildflowers that grow before an incredible view of the mountain offer one of the greatest natural sights in the state.

Richard Cockle/The Oregonian

1. Wallowa Mountains

Isolated in the far northeastern corner of the state, the Wallowa Mountains are a place of incomparable beauty. The range is often called the “Swiss Alps of Oregon,” but that comparison downplays the more unique features of the Wallowas: the marble-capped mountains, roaring turquoise rivers, towering waterfalls, alpine lakes and dense forests. Wallowa Lake at the base of the mountains is a gorgeous sight in and of itself, while the tramway that leads to the top of Mount Howard is a great manmade feature. There’s nothing in Oregon quite like the Wallowas, a comprehensive display of pure natural awe.

Related Posts

Devils Kitchen Sinkhole Sedona

Hiking the Seven Sacred Pools to Soldiers Pass in Sedona

Although the Devil’s Bridge trail takes the cake as my top hike in Sedona, hiking the Seven Sacred Pools to Soldiers Pass is a very close second…

Alaska By Small Ship Cruise: Wilderness, Solitude, And Wildlife Sightings

It’s 1:30 a.m. and there’s a knock on my cabin door. It’s a crew member with news: The Northern Lights are now visible from the bow of…

The 10 Best Places To Go ‘Lazy’ River Tubing In Florida, USA

Are you looking for a great place to go tubing? Are you headed for the US state of Florida? Do you enjoy laidback, lazy river tubing? If…


21 Best Places To Ski In The US

Are you ready to hit the slopes? Are you hoping to ski fresh corduroy? Maybe the ski lingo is foreign to you because you are new to…

5 Reasons Why You Should Visit Leavenworth, WA

Located 188 kilometers or 117 miles east of Seattle, Leavenworth is a charming village in the Cascade Mountains at the center of Washington State. With its Bavarian-themed…

The ultimate guide to Colorado’s San Juan Skyway

rguably one of the most scenic roads in the U.S., Colorado’s 235-mile San Juan Skyway showcases a diverse landscape featuring high mountains, striking rock formations, gorgeous alpine…

Trả lời

Email của bạn sẽ không được hiển thị công khai. Các trường bắt buộc được đánh dấu *