When I first looked at Travel Oregon’s wonderful website, I found out about the Seven Wonders of Oregon. The state of Oregon is one of only three that make up the west coast of the USA (Washingston and California being the others), so it’s pretty big. There was no way that on my trip I would be able to see all of them.
We managed 4 out of the 7, which I think is pretty good going for a short time in Oregon. And do you know what? They’re all amazing. I’m completely bowled over by the state of Oregon: it’s beautiful, laidback and fun to experience.
First, I’ll introduce you to the 4 Wonders I saw, then let you know of the others that I sadly couldn’t make. But I want to include them because I will definitely go back to Oregon and seek them out (I’ll even return to a couple of the ones I visited).
Columbia River Gorge
A National Scenic Area, the 40-mile stretch of the Columbia River Gorge really does boast a lot. Wine, hiking, kitesurfing, waterfalls… sigh. Our first stop on the Highway was Multnomah Falls, a short drive from Portland. And if you’re in Portland, you’ll see pictures and pieces of art everywhere of these falls:
We ate lunch in the town of Hood River, tried its beer while overlooking the lake that’s known for its kitesurfing. We didn’t have a go, but it’s worth knowing if you’re in the area! My favourite place, though, was Oneonta Gorge. There are loads of trails throughout the Columbia Gorge River, but this was The One I wanted to do.
We clambered over rocks and fallen logs and waded through chest-high water, all to get to Lower Oneonta Falls at the end. The waterfall reward was worth it, sure, but to be honest, the whole journey was spent in complete awe, taking out my camera (no way was I going to leave that badboy behind) at any opportunity where I didn’t need my hands to navigate.
The first peep of Mt Hood is impressive enough, let alone when you get closer and closer. You can ski on it during winter, which makes it immediately more welcoming to me. But we were here during summer and although it always has a snowy peak, it was mostly an imposing brown, with its pure white glaciers (there are 11 altogether) snaking their way down.
We viewed it from the road and then at Trillium Lake. It reminded me of how I’ve always wanted to see the Canadian Rockies, reflected in clear, still lakes… but here I was in Oregon with the same thing!
Seriously, this thing is big. Stretching 8km wide, almost 2000 ft high and the deepest lake in the US (9th deepest in the world). A blog post dedicated to Crater Lake will be coming up, so I won’t go too much into it here, but it was one of the places that left me stunned. The whole time we were there, I couldn’t speak much because there was too much to take in to be able to gather your thoughts. The water is so dazzlingly blue, it doesn’t look real.
What’s interesting is that it’s not a crater because of a meteorite, but rather a volcano that collapsed. It was a very odd feeling to be in a National Park that was actually full of volcanoes. Every peak, we were told, is a volcano. Eeek.
I hadn’t really heard about the Oregon Coast until recently, so to me it was a bit of a secret. It’s a great road trip, totalling 363 miles (but I won’t force you to do all of it…) of dramatic coastline. Everything’s really well signposted, with plaques describing what you’re seeing and why it’s important. What surprised me that not only could you surf here (it looks pretty dangerous from some lookouts), but there are sand dunes here which you can sandboard down. We tried it and it was a pretty awesome – and a bit frustrating – experience!
That’s the end of the Wonders of Oregon I was lucky enough to see! More briefly but no less interesting, these are the remaining three, pictures of which are all from the Travel Oregon website:
I really wish I could have seen these. The Painted Hills look like something from the surface of Mars, with layers of earth shades of yellow, red, brown and gold. They’re more inland in Eastern Oregon, which is why we didn’t manage to get there!
This is basically an adventuerer’s dream. The spires of Smith Rock are made from volcanic ash, and people frequently rock climb here. You can also ease up on the danger and go paddleboarding and caving closeby, or cycle some of the trails. If I was here, I’d also love to catch sight of a golden eagle.
By now you must have figured out that Oregon is pretty big on its dramatic natural scenery. The Wallowa Mountain Range is in northeastern Oregon and offers yet more incredible views as well as cute little towns to explore.
There you have it! Oregon seems pretty huge after all that, doesn’t it?! I’ll be posting about each of the Wonders I experienced in more detail in the upcoming weeks on the blog, so watch this space for more pictures and my stories.
If you didn’t catch it on the first link to Travel Oregon’s website, this is their video on the Seven Wonders. Worth a watch. Each of the Wonders has their own video too!