Oregon is home to some of the most amazing national parks in the country. These natural wonders are a must-visit for anyone who loves nature and outdoor activities.
From Crater Lake to Hells Canyon and Fort Clatsop, there are plenty of stunning landscapes and awe-inspiring nature that awaits you in Oregon. So take your time and enjoy all that this great state has to offer!
Crater Lake National Park is one of the world’s most iconic and popular national parks. Located in southwestern Oregon, the park is known for its stunning views, deep canyons, and unique geological formations.
Crater Lake is one of the deepest lakes in America and is located within a caldera that formed from a volcanic eruption 7700 years ago. The resulting lake is 1,943 feet (500 meters) deep.
In addition to its magnificent blue water, Crater Lake has other attractions including old-growth forests, pumice plains and waterfalls. It’s also a top destination for stargazing, as the skies are some of the darkest in the country.
The best time to visit Crater Lake National Park is in the summer. The weather is usually good and there are plenty of activities to enjoy. However, the park does get snow during the winter, and some roads are closed. So it’s important to plan ahead.
The Hells Canyon National Recreation Area straddles the border of northeastern Oregon and western Idaho. It encompasses a vast and remote region with dramatic changes in elevation, terrain and vegetation.
The 652,488 acres of this national showcase are managed by the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. The gorge is home to a variety of natural attractions, as well as cultural heritage and history.
Hiking trails abound, offering opportunities to see craggy mountains, soaring waterfalls and verdant forests. A visit to this national park is sure to be a memorable one!
Aside from scenic vistas, visitors can also enjoy whitewater rafting and jet boating trips. The Snake River and Salmon River offer excellent fishing opportunities, as well.
The Hells Canyon Scenic Byway is a famous highway in Oregon that hugs the eastern border of the park and provides incredible views of the wilderness around you. The byway passes through several small towns where visitor services are offered for your convenience.
A visit to Fort Clatsop takes you back in time to the Lewis and Clark Expedition's winter encampment during 1805-1806. The replica of this fort is full of historical artifacts, a small visitor center and short interpretive trails.
Fort Clatsop National Monument, Oregon is a national park that honors the explorers' final stop before they crossed into the Pacific Ocean. This area was where Lewis and Clark prepared maps, journals, and scientific data that would prove crucial for future travel.
The park grew out of a period of National Park Service development called Mission 66, which was aimed at building or improving facilities to meet the increasing number of visitors and the challenges associated with aging infrastructure. During this time, a significant number of roads and visitor centers were constructed or improved.
The memorial was established on a 32-acre site recommended by regional historian John Hussey in 1957. The boundaries took into account re-creation and protection of the historic setting, a neighboring residence and property, and needed administrative buildings.
One of the most off-the-beaten-path national parks in Oregon, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument is a must for anyone interested in road tripping through the scenic countryside of eastern Oregon. Here, rock layers reveal a rich history of animals and plants spanning more than 40 million years.
The monument is divided into three units, each with its own unique history and geological formations. The Clarno, Painted Hills, and Sheep Rock Units preserve fossilized remains of plants and mammals that lived in diverse eras and ecosystems.
A working laboratory and exhibits at the Thomas Condon Visitor Center, as well as scenic drives and hikes in all three units, allow visitors to explore the prehistoric past of Oregon and see science in action.
In the 1860s, the discovery of fossilized creatures in the John Day basin spurred interest from paleontologists worldwide. Scientists from Yale, Princeton, and the University of California acquired fossils in the area and classified them for research. Early field expeditions led by Merriam, Ruben Stirton, and Chester Stock from UC Berkeley helped to establish John Day as an important fossil site.