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Elle Ossello | 11.21.2016

Oregon State is an untamed tangle of ecology and natural beauty. Sometimes, driving through the state can feel surreal: One moment, your car is kicking up dust in the high desert, the next, the windshield is dotted with dew within a towering, misty, old-growth forest. 

From the subarctic climate atop behemoth glacier-clad volcanoes to the shockingly vibrant high desert that sprawls eastward beyond the Cascades, Oregon is a study in beauty and variety. It is renowned as one of the country's best outdoor playgrounds, and for good reason: World-class steelhead and trout fishermen, mountaineers, skiiers, kite boarders, and whitewater kayakers all call Oregon home. That's not to mention that Smith Rock State Park is a seminal location for modern sport climbing as we know it. 

Whether you're an extreme athlete or simply looking for a breath of fresh air with a stunning backdrop, Oregon delivers. Millions flock annually to the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area for a peek at one of its 25 waterfalls and to Crater Lake, the deepest in the United States. Fewer are aware, though, of the natural wonders peppered among The Honeycombs along the Owyhee Plateau or the shocking colors of The Painted Hills.

Even the most prolific adventurer could tucker herself out attempting to overturn every natural curiosity within this expansive state. Below is a less-than-exhaustive starter pack. Please bear in mind that there are a number of adventures on this list that require a specific skill set or professional guides. Always assess your own abilities before embarking beyond the trailhead or the put-in.


1. Mount Hood Wilderness

2. Three Sisters Wilderness

3. South Sister Hike

4. Diamond Peak


5. Tilly Jane A-Frame

6. Warner Mountain Lookout Tower


7. Crater Lake, Wallowas

8. Lost Lake

9. Crater Lake National Park


10. Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

11. The Clackamas

12. The John Day

13. The Rogue

14. The Deschutes

15. Eagle Creek to Tunnel Falls

16. White River Falls State Park

17. Sahalie Falls

18. Multnomah Falls

Hot Springs

19. Umpqua Hot Springs

20. East Lake Hot Springs

21. Hart Mountain Hot Springs


22. Alvord Desert

23. Painted Hills Unit

24. Smith Rock State Park

25. The Honeycombs


26. Thor's Well + Cook's Chasm

27. Cape Perpetua Scenic Area

28. Ecola State Park

29. Seal Rock State Recreation Site

City Adventures

30. Forest Park


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