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.
Snow-covered Mt. Hood from ZigZag Mountain. Photo by Outdoor Project Contributor Zachary Smith.
4. Diamond Peak
Sleepy bunk upstairs in the Tilly Jane A-Frame. Photo by Outdoor Project Co-Founder Tyson Gillard.
View from the Watchman Overlook at Crater Lake National Park. Photo by Outdoor Project Co-Founder Tyson Gillard.
8. Lost Lake
Ramona Falls. Photo by Outdoor Project Team Member Kat Dierickx.
11. The Clackamas
12. The John Day
13. The Rogue
14. The Deschutes
17. Sahalie Falls
18. Multnomah Falls
Umpqua Hot Springs. Photo by Outdoor Project Contributor Chris Young.
Smith Rock State Park: View from Asterisk Pass. Photo by Outdoor Project Team Member Kat Dierickx.
22. Alvord Desert
25. The Honeycombs
Cape Perpetua: View south toward Heceta Head. Photo by Outdoor Project Co-Founder Tyson Gillard.
28. Ecola State Park
Forest Park, Maple Trail. Photo by Outdoor Project Contributor Halvor Tweto.
30. Forest Park