When you’re born in Oregon, you quickly learn that no other place will ever feel like home simply because there are so many beautiful places in Oregon that make it impossible to stay away too long.
How do I know? First hand experience!
My husband and I recently relocated to New York City and nothing prepared me for how much I would miss exploring Oregon.
Out of sheer homesickness, allow me to share my personal list of the most beautiful places in Oregon.
Feel free to comment below if you think any other place should be added to the list, I’m sure other folks would love to know too!
With that said, let’s get to it.
Helpful tips for visiting the most beautiful places in Oregon
Practice Leave No Trace
You + Sunscreen = Best Friends (Forever)
- I swear by this sunscreen (and so do 5,000+ other people), I discovered it in France and now buy it in bulk. It works like a charm and doesn’t leave strange residue or smells, you’ll NEVER catch me without it!
Wear hiking boots with good traction
- Even though (most) trails are well maintained, exposed roots are common. It’s easy to trip on the trail, so set yourself up for success by wearing proper shoes. These are my hiking boots and I’d sleep in them if I could.
- Some trails require wilderness permits, if you see one at the trailhead make make sure to complete the form. Not only are Wilderness Permits FREE, but they’re helpful for tracking usage trends and assisting with search & rescue efforts. It is imperative that you complete them when you see them at the trailhead.
Stick to the main trail
- There are a lot of social hiking trails in Oregon (social trails are created by hikers going off the main trail). These trails cause damage to sensitive areas, so stick to the clearly marked trail to preserve delicate flora and wildlife.
#20. Toketee Falls
Oregon is the land of waterfalls, make no mistake about it. And we definitely have our fair share of jaw-dropping waterfalls to choose from but for me personally, none is more notable than Toketee Falls in Douglas County, Oregon.
The name Toketee stems from a Chinook word meaning “graceful” or “pretty” and there’s no denying this is an aptly named waterfall.
This two-tiered waterfall cascades an impressive 113 feet into a pool of pristine aqua-colored water. It feels like a scene from a fairy tale, which is why I consider this one of the most beautiful places in Oregon.
#19. Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor
Some people consider the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor to be one of the most beautiful places in Oregon, if not the entire country.
Massive rock outcroppings adorned with towering trees pepper the rocky shoreline and create various bridges laden with moss.
There’s various trails to choose from to get sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean but the best trail by far is natural bridges viewpoint trail, which is where this photo was taken from.
#18. Cape Kiwanda
A sleepy beach town with stretches of soft sandy shoreline and countless epic hikes that offers panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, can you think of a more relaxing way to spend a long weekend?
Cape Kiwanda is one of the best places in Oregon because it combines the two things Oregonians love most — the breathtaking Oregon coast and hiking.
The surrounding area is full of rolling hills and sand dunes ripe for exploration.
Certain spots reminds me very much of Italy’s Tuscan countryside (see photo below), it’s a lovely area to watch sunset while picnicking with a special someone.
#17. Hells Canyon
Photo credit | Peak Visor
The name is intimidating but the landscape is sheer bliss, which is why I think everyone should make an effort to see one of the most beautiful landscapes in Oregon.
Found on the border between Oregon and Idaho, the Snake River cuts through Hells Canyon and offers visitors ample outdoor recreational opportunities in the deepest canyon in North America (deeper than the Grand Canyon by almost 2,000 feet!).
#16. The Hood River Lavender Farm
The lavender fields in France are known the world over for their stunning beauty and heavenly smell. But you know what? You don’t even need to buy a plane ticket to have an equally memorable experience in our own backyard.
Hood River Lavender Valley comes alive with pretty shades of deep purple during July and August for the enjoyment of visitors and bees.
Both flock to this area to take in the beauty of lavender growing at the feet of a charming old barn while Mt. Hood gracefully looms in the background.
You know what they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Obviously, Hood River Lavender Farm needs to explanation — the picture speaks for itself. This is one of the most beautiful places in Oregon!
#15. Willamette Valley
Photo Credit: Go Next
Everyone knows that Oregon is an outdoor enthusiasts dream. The drastic (and diverse) natural landscapes can keep anyone entertained for years with miles of hiking trails and sweeping vistas.
But what’s the point in hiking without a proper reward afterwards? Well, Oregon has you covered in that department as well — in fact, Oregon is the 4th most wine producing state in the country.
And of all the notable wine regions in Oregon, perhaps none is more famous than Willamette Valley because it is home to 500+ wineries.
Sitting at the same latitude as France’s notable wine regions, Willamette Valley is known for producing knock-out award-winning Pinot Noirs that can hold their own in worldwide competitions.
Sipping a chilled glass of Chardonnay in the summer (or robust glass of award winning red in fall) while overlooking rolling hills of healthy vines? Just name a time and I’ll be there.
#14. Three Sisters Wilderness
Surrounded by the jaw-dropping Three Sisters Wilderness, it’s no secret that Bend Oregon is a great place to live. In fact, Bend is the second-fastest growing medium sized city in America.
Three Sisters Wilderness is the second largest wilderness area in Oregon and is comprised of 286,000+ acres of pristine wilderness.
Looming volcanoes seem impossible to avoid, as they’re always within view. The most notable peaks are the South, Middle and North Sisters, which all exceed heights of 10,000 feet.
This wilderness area offers everything from hearty hikes, alpine lakes, interesting lava fields, lush meadows, a plethora of waterfalls, glaciers galore or ample swimming lakes.
#13. The Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival
It seems like attending a tulip festival in the Netherlands is high on most people’s bucket lists. Yet so many folks make the mistake of overlooking Oregon’s breathtaking Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival held in the spring.
Originally started by a married couple, the tulip festival offers visitors an opportunity to frolic through 15 acres of densely planted vibrant tulip blooms. Try visiting when the hot air balloons are out for an extra-special experience.
Read More: Visiting the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival
#12. The Painted Hills
Oregon’s Painted Hills is one of three units in the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. The area is comprised of striking colorful hill formations in the high desert of central Oregon.
An other-worldly planet is the best way to describe Oregon’s Painted Hills. The closest comparison I can think of is the breathtaking landscape of an African desert.
The colors on the Painted Hills are attributed to ancient eruptions that caused ash layers to deposit over many years and caused different minerals to reach and solidify into various colored bands over time.
This makes the Painted Hills a study in stratigraphy (the study of rock layers to determine geological time scales). All this to say, the area is very interesting to explore and one of the most beautiful spots in Oregon.
#11. The Alvord Desert
Image credit Catalina Jean
I was so surprised the first time we visited Alvord Desert because it was hard to believe that such a striking desert landscape could be located in the state home to the towering Cascade Range.
But lo’ and behold, the Alvord Desert is not only real, but it’s also one of the most beautiful places in Oregon.
Home to fascinating light shows, referred to as The Happening due to their inexplicable nature, the Alvord Desert is a photographers dream.
#10. Multnomah Falls
Arguably the most famous waterfall in a state known for waterfalls, Multnomah Falls is one of the most visited spots in Oregon for good reason.
Dropping a staggering 620 feet, Multnomah Falls is the tallest waterfall in Oregon.
Visitors are allowed to hike up to an overlook bridge for a better vantage point of the towering falls.
The trail leading up to the falls is one of the best hikes in Oregon because it gets you up close and personal with the state’s most famous waterfall.
The trailhead is located a mere half-hour from downtown Portland and since seeing Multnomah Falls is on everyone’s bucket list when they visit Portland, you can expect crowds on this popular Oregon hike.
Passing by the rushing force that is Multnomah Falls, the paved trail turns into roughly 11 switchbacks that are easy to follow and not too taxing on the knees — making this one of the best family-friendly hikes in Oregon.
#9. Owyhee Canyonlands
Photo credit Willamette Week
If you’re looking for solitude, look no further than Owyhee Canyonlands in the southeast corner of Oregon, considered the Grand Canyon of Oregon.
It doesn’t get more remote than this and very few Oregonians take the time to visit, which is why this is one of the best things to do in Oregon for anyone looking to escape crowds.
There’s so many interesting hiking opportunities in the region and chances are good that you won’t come across others on while hiking the numerous trails. In fact, this is one of the least crowded places we’ve explored in Oregon.
We plan to return to Owyhee Canyonlands again soon to explore it in depth because there’s so much to see. We were ill-prepared for the sheer amount of recreational opportunities and the breathtaking scenery — trust me when I tell you, this is one of the most beautiful places in Oregon and you won’t want to miss it.
#8. Smith Rock State Park
A fantastic rock outcropping in the middle of a breathtaking desert landscape, surrounded by panoramic views of the cascade range. What’s not to like?
And as anyone who has visited Smith Rock State Park can attest, I would be remiss to this striking landscape from a list outlining the most beautiful places in Oregon.
My favorite hike at Smith Rock State Park is the beloved (and very popular) Misery Ridge Trail Hike. The trail takes hikers past Monkey Face, which is considered one of the toughest rock climbs in the world.
The first mile of this scenic Oregon hike is challenging, but you must preserve because the views from the summit are worth the effort. If you’re not in the mood for a high elevation hike near Bend, I suggest the River Trail because it offers phenomenal views and lacks elevation.
The landscape is so beautiful, especially at sunrise. An early morning wake-up call is well worth the effort.
We hiked the Misery Ridge Trail at sunrise to avoid crowds and watched a hot air balloon take in the splendor of the sun greeting the valley floor. Hot air balloon ride over central Oregon? Now that’s an idea I can get behind!
#7. Ramona Falls
Tell any Oregonian that you plan to spend a day at Mt. Hood National Forest and you’re bound to get a recommendation to visit Ramona Falls, one of the best waterfall hikes in Oregon.
Starting at the Mount Hood Wilderness area, the Ramona Falls Trail is 7 miles round trip and follows the scenic Sandy River throughout various portions of the trail.
Reaching Ramona Falls requires sturdy footwear and a sense of adventure. An old bridge that connected the trail past the Sandy River was washed out and hikers now need to cross the river by balancing on logs.
This is a popular hike during summer because of the trail’s proximity to Portland and the euphoric reward of cooling off next to one of the most epic waterfalls in Oregon.
Image courtesy of Hiking Project
#6. The Columbia Gorge
Few know that the Columbia River Gorge is America’s largest National Scenic Area. And once you drive through this stunning landscape it won’t take long for you to realize that the honor is well deserved.
Take the Historic Columbia River Highway, known as the “King of Roads,” which was the first scenic highway in America to be designated as a National Historic Landmark, an incredible achievement.
The Highway was constructed with the intent of working with the natural wonders of this area, not against them and the end result is a beautiful thing.
The highway hugs the Columbia River and passes numerous cascading waterfalls. I guarantee this will be one of the most beautiful drives you’ve ever done — make sure you pop off to see Multnomah Falls otherwise no one will believe you were actually here!
I should also confess that the breathtaking Columbia River Gorge is one of my favorite day trips from Portland, because there’s no shortage of adventurous things to do.
I especially like spending warm summer days at the numerous award-winning wineries in Hood River while sipping cold Chardonnay and watching the sunset over Mt. Hood.
#5. Mt. Hood National Forest
Photo Credit Central Oregon Daily
Ask any resident to list the most beautiful places in Oregon and most will undoubtedly mention Mt. Hood National Forest.
Reaching an impressive height of 11,250 feet, Mt. Hood is the tallest volcano in Oregon and the fourth tallest in the Cascade Range.
But fret not, the volcano is dormant and doesn’t pose a threat (or so they say…). What’s more, Mt. Hood is home to America’s only year-round ski resort!
As you can imagine, every inch of Mt. Hood National Forest is bound to impress but make an effort to visit McNeil Point, Paradise Parks and Elk Meadows to see why Oregonians find this area one of the most beautiful in Oregon.
Fun fact: Mt. Hood is the third most climbed mountain in the world.
#4. Steens Mountain
Photo credit Danner
Steens Mountain is the highest point in southeastern Oregon and it has a hold on visitors that few can explain. Once you visit, you will instantly feel compelled to return.
Looming at an elevation of 9,733 feet, Steens Mountain feels like an island in the surrounding desert landscape — a sight few can fathom. Various trails lead to breathtaking viewpoints that make you feel like you’re at the edge of the world.
The other-worldliness of Steens Mountain, coupled with the isolation and solitude makes this one of the prettiest places in Oregon to me.
The road leading up to Steens Mountain Gorges Loop is considered the most spectacular road in Oregon so you can believe the views from this Oregon trail will not disappoint.
The “gorges loop” portion in the trail’s name refers to the connection between the two gorges — Big Indian Gorge and Little Blitzen Gorge.
#3. Crater Lake
It’s no surprise that the state’s sole national park would be one of the most beautiful places in Oregon, right?
Crater Lake formed thousands of years ago when Mount Mazama, a massive volcano, erupted and collapsed. The caldera filled with rainwater and snow melt, which eventually formed the lake we see today.
Clocking in at a depth of 1,943 feet, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in America and the ninth deepest lake in the world.
In fact, Crater Lake is deeper than the One World Trade Center in New York City is tall. In fact, if the building were submerged in the lake, there would still be 200′ of water above the One World Trade Center. That definitely puts the depth into perspective for me!
If that’s not impressive enough, Crater lake is also one of the purest and clearest lakes in the world because there’s no inlets, meaning there’s no sediment or mineral deposits being introduced to the lake.
Best time to visit: Crater Lake National Park is open year-round, but the best time to visit is between July – September when the temperatures are favorable and chance of rainfall is minimal.
#2. Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach
Oregon’s nearly 400-mile coastline is famous nation-wide for good reason. The striking shoreline is lined with massive rock formations, the largest coastal sand dunes in America and a breathtaking view of the chilly Pacific Ocean.
But what makes the Oregon Coast so special? Well, for starters, every inch of the coastline is public property (and therefore freely accessible to everyone). Thanks to the Oregon Beach Bill from 1967, it is unlawful for any entity to privatize any stretch of Oregon’s shoreline.
What’s more, you’ll be able to tour up to 11 lighthouses (9 of which are historic) and visit 79 state parks. There’s definitely something for everyone.
Yet when most folks think of the Oregon coast they instantly picture the most iconic features, which is Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, and make no mistake — you absolutely MUST visit this epic spot!
I mean look at it! Haystack Rock is clearly one of the most beautiful places in Oregon.
#1. Wallowa Mountains
During my visit to the Wallowas I couldn’t help but notice how much the sweeping mountain views reminded me of the breathtaking alpine wilderness in Switzerland.
For first timers, I suggest exploring the Eagle Cap Wilderness where alpine meadows and granite peaks engulf you and transport you to paradise. With breathtaking alpine landscapes like this it’s no wonder this is considered one of the Seven wonders of Oregon!
Do yourself a favor before visiting the Wallowas and read up on Chief Joseph, the beloved Native American Chief of the Nez Perce tribe who led his tribe through the darkest periods in Native American History. The story of this compassionate and important leader is just as fascinating as the land you will be exploring.
If you plan to visit for yourself, make sure to check out the charming towns of Joseph and Enterprise during your visit. The Wallowas are easily one of the most beautiful places in Oregon.
Most Beautiful Places in Oregon (Post Summary)
In sum, these are the most beautiful spots in Oregon:
- Wallowa Mountains
- Haystack Rock
- Crater Lake
- Steens Mountain
- Mt. Hood National Forest
- The Columbia Gorge
- Ramona Falls
- Smith Rock State Park
- Owyhee Canyonlands
- Multnomah Falls
- The Alvord Desert
- The Painted Hills
- The Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival
- Bend, Oregon
- Willamette Valley
- Hood River Lavender Farm
- Sam Boardman Natural Bridges
- Hells Canyon
- Cape Kiwanda
- Toketee Falls
And there you have it my friends – a roundup of the best places in Oregon. I hope you enjoyed the post!
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