4 Best Natural Parks in Oregon
Oregon, also known as the Beaver State, is heaven for outdoor enthusiasts. This state is filled with natural wonders, ranging from tall mountains to dormant volcanoes, dunes, and river gorges. Of course, you will get a chance to enjoy spectacular scenery anywhere you go. Just remember to pack your sense of adventure because Oregon is for exploring!
Crater Lake National Park
Only four hours away from Portland lies Crater Lake National Park, one of the most beautiful outdoor locations in the Pacific Northwest. With a depth of 1,943 feet (or 592 meters), Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States. It is essentially Mount Mazama's caldera. Mount Mazama was a mighty volcano that erupted around 7,700 years ago. The oral tales of the Klamath tribe who resided nearby feature the descriptions of the mountain's collapse.
There are no rivers connected to Crater Lake. Instead, rain and melting snow are the only water sources. Therefore, this lake tops the list of the cleanest lakes in North America. Crater Lake's surface is incredibly calm, almost mimicking a mirror, so the sky reflects perfectly in it. Visitors are often mesmerized by the intense blue color of the lake.
Outdoor enthusiasts enjoy this place because it has miles and miles of hiking trails that lead around the water. Inexperienced hikers shouldn't miss out on the opportunity to conquer the Discovery Point Trail. It is one mile long and offers impressive views of the lake, as well as the nature around it.
Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area
Located between Coos Bay and Florence, Oregon Dunes national recreation area is a unique sight. But this part of the Oregon coast is not all about beaches. Here you will find dense forests, crystal clear lakes, and tiny islands. However, the super tall dunes steal the spotlight. And why wouldn't they?
After all, this is the largest area in North America that has coastal dunes. The dunes can rise for up to 400 feet (or 150 meters) above sea level. Their size depends on the time of the year. Camping is super popular here, especially by the water.
Visitors flock to this place in winter and spring to watch whales migrate right next to the coast of Oregon. The best place to watch this incredible show is the Umpqua dunes. Traffic is strictly forbidden there, creating a serene atmosphere perfect for relaxation and some nature observation.
Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
Nestled on the border between Oregon and Washington, the Columbia River Gorge national scenic area is filled with stunning landscapes and diverse nature. The Columbia River Gorge is 80 miles long (or 130 kilometers) and has more than 70 waterfalls. One of them is the Multnomah Falls, the second largest waterfall in the United States.
Visitors may engage in various activities within this national scenic area. There are dozens of available campsites by the river, and most of them are open all year round. The hiking trails range from extremely difficult to very beginner-friendly so that you can explore the surrounding nature regardless of your fitness level.
The best way to take in the beauty of the Columbia River Gorge is to go on a drive on the Historic Columbia River Highway. There is so much to see on this scenic route, including the river, mountains, and waterfalls.
Lewis and Clark National Historical Park
If you want to experience the beauty of Oregon’s coast, you should visit the Lewis and Clack national historical park. It is situated right next to the Pacific Ocean and the Colombia River. This location is ideal for history buffs interested in learning about the famous American explorers and the Native Americans who once resided in this part of the States.
There are twelve sites along the coast, but the central part of the Lewis and Clark national historical park is Fort Clatsop. It is where the pair spend the winter before deciding to turn around and head back home. Visitors can discover more about the Native American heritage at Clatsop Indian village.
Hikers should check out the Fort to Sea Trail, a picturesque walk that will take them from Fort Clatsop to the coast. The terrain could be a bit steep at times, but you will get to enjoy breathtaking views from the Clatsop Ridge. If the weather is nice, you will see the Pacific Ocean in the distance right away.