With quiet beaches, vibrant cities, and massive expanses of forest, Oregon has something for everyone.
Oregon has long been known as an outdoor destination, with snow-capped mountains, rugged high desert, Pacific Coast beaches, and roaring rivers all within a few hours’ drive of one another. While Portland attracts visitors with its celebrated food scene and music venues, Oregon offers much more for those who’d prefer a quieter getaway out in nature. If you’ve come to camp or hike, you’ll have no shortage of options to choose from—in fact, there are 11 national forests, hundreds of state parks and recreation areas, and 2.5 million acres of protected wilderness within the state’s borders.
Extending from the border with Washington state down to the community of Springfield, the Willamette Valley is Oregon’s main economic and cultural hub. Although it’s home to the state’s three most populated cities (Portland, Salem, and Eugene), much of the Willamette Valley is dominated by forests and countryside, with plenty of state parks, hiking and mountain biking trails, hot springs, and rivers.
Just east of Portland on the border with Washington, the Columbia River Gorge offers easy access to miles of hiking trails, waterfalls, and great skiing and snowboarding. The adjacent Mt. Hood region has equally beautiful scenery and is as popular for winter skiing and snowboarding as it is for hiking, swimming, and camping in the summer months.
This region is popular year-round, attracting whale-watching fans in the cooler months and campers and hikers in the summer months. Popular Oregon Coast activities include hiking, tide pool viewing, clamming, crabbing, off-road vehicle rides on the sweeping Oregon Dunes, and sampling world-famous cheese and ice cream in Tillamook. While some brave souls don wetsuits for surfing and diving, the Pacific Ocean waters rarely get warm enough for comfortable dips. Some of the area’s best camping options can be found at Harris Beach State Park, Sunset Bay State Park, and Cape Lookout State Park, all of which offer tent camping, yurt rentals, and RV sites with hookups.
Stretching from the portion of the Cascade Range south of the Columbia Gorge all the way east to the Oregon-Idaho border, central and eastern Oregon offer a dryer, sunnier alternative to the rainier parts of the state, with a mix of lush forest and craggy high desert landscapes. Highlights include Deschutes National Forest, popular for backpacking and backcountry stays, while campers in search of a more developed camping experience can head to one of the many Oregon state parks along the Deschutes River, near Bend.
Oregon’s southernmost region offers a variety of scenery, with a mix of lakes, forests, and rivers interspersed with rolling expanses of countryside (not to mention some great wineries). The region’s most famous natural attraction is Crater Lake National Park, Oregon’s only national park, set near the southeastern reaches of Umpqua National Forest.