Oregon is a beautiful state full of national parks to explore. Inland, it is bordered by the state of Washington, California, Idaho, and Nevada. The remaining border is that of the Pacific Ocean, where cliffs, beaches and crashing waves make some gorgeous scenery and sunsets. The state has very different areas to experience including rain forests, coastal settings and a barren desert towards the southeast. The state has five national parks, three national trails, 17 national historic landmarks, ten national natural landmarks, all managed by the National Park Service. Oregon National Parks present some of the best of Oregon and are well worth the visit.
Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve
Travel to the Siskiyou Mountains where caves have been formed from the forests above. The water has seeped into the area below, carving and eroding some amazing caves and cave systems into the marble. The area has come to be known as the “Marble Halls of Oregon.” Due to the unique geology, there are rare plants and animals found in the park. Try some of the scenic hiking trails in the park. The Mt. Elijah Loop Trail is a longer route of over 9 miles. Here, you can see lovely meadows, lakes, and views of Mt. Shasta and Preston Peak. The Cliff Nature Trail is another visitor favorite and is approximately a mile long. This trail will lead you through the majestic forests and over marble outcrops. There are some fantastic views of the Illinois Valley below as you walk along. Of course, while you’re there, you must take a guided tour of one of the marble caves. There are no self-tours, so you will have to watch the schedule to partake in one of the 90-minute tours of the caves below. The park has plenty to do, but nearby there are also wineries and many local events scheduled cave systems into the marble. The area has come to be known as the “Marble Halls of Oregon.” Due to the unique geology, there are rare plants and animals found in the park. Try some of the scenic hiking trails in the park. The Mt. Elijah Loop Trail is a more extended route of over 9 miles. Here, you can see lovely meadows, lakes, and views of Mt. Shasta and Preston Peak. The Cliff Nature Trail is another visitor favorite and is approximately a mile long. This trail will lead you through the majestic forests and over marble outcrops. There are some fantastic views of the Illinois Valley below as you walk along. Of course, while you’re there, you must take a guided tour of one of the marble caves. There are no self-tours, so you will have to watch the schedule to partake in one of the 90-minute tours of the caves below. The park has plenty to do, but nearby there are also wineries and many local events scheduled
throughout the summer.
Photo credit: Oregon Caves
John Day Fossil Beds National Monument
Located in east-central Oregon, Fossil Beds National Monument is home to some of the best preserved prehistoric fossils from millions of years ago. Activities include hiking, camping, river rafting, fishing, mountain biking and others during your visit. The park consists of three areas known as the Sheep Rock unit, the Painted Hills unit and the Clarno unit. Sheep Rock has mainly volcanic ash in its layers which appear as a green rock. There are several trails to hike here, and the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center can be found close to Sheep Rock as well. In the center, visitors can see fossils from all three units as well as surrounding lands beyond up close and personal. The Painted Hills unit has remarkable hills that can be seen in several tones and hues, especially in stripes of red and gold. There are some nice hikes here, just be sure to stay off of the clay. The Clarno unit has remarkable castle-like rocks, known as the Palisades. A few trails will lead you to the bottom or up closer towards the top of the rocks for some great views. Don’t forget to see the historic Cant Ranch located in the Sheep Rock unit. The house has been restored to how to look in the 1930s, and there is now a small museum about the human history of the ranch and how they lived.
Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake National Park is one of the top parks in the U.S. The beauty of the area is magnified by the presence of a deep blue lake in a sleeping volcano. The lake was formed from a massive eruption collapsed the volcano, and the lake was created by the rain and snow of the area. It is also the deepest lake in the United States and is a favorite setting for artists and photographers. The lake is often hidden by clouds, but the park has an online webcam that shows current weather conditions so you can look before you go. The winter months bring snow to the area, making it white and beautiful. Summer and fall are great times to visit where you can jump in the freezing water of the lake or take a scenic hike. There are two visitor centers available, and they are the Steel Visitor Center and the Rim Visitor Center. Here, you can schedule a guided walk, hear a talk, watch a short video, see the exhibits and learn about the area. Take the Rim Drive to drive 33 miles that encircle Crater Lake. Along the drive, there are over 30 pullovers that offer some great views of the park. Take a boat tour on the lake for some different and scenic views. Try the Pinnacles Trail for a leisurely walk around the rim of the Pinnacle Valley near cliffs and with views of a rock in the water called the “Phantom Ship.” There are guided walks, hikes, tours and more available to see one of the most beautiful and heavily visited parks in the U.S.
Oregon National Historic Trail
This historic and famous trail covers a multitude of states leading the way to Oregon. Over 2,000 miles of tracks and ruts can be seen along the historic path as settlers headed for Oregon to seek new lands. Baker City, Oregon has the Flagstaff Hill/National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center that overlooks 7 miles of preserved ruts along the trail. The outdoor exhibits featuring covered wagons and other types of items will give visitors insight to how it was traveling across the country to start a new life. See and learn about an essential part of history and the brave people that faced countless challenges and terrors trying to cross terrain, rivers and more while battling hunger, thirst, and disease in search for the state of Oregon.
More to Offer
The lovely state of Oregon has more to offer. Fort Vancouver historical site, Ice Age Floods National Trail, Lewis and Clark National Trail and the Nez Perce National Historic Park are all part of Oregon and its landscape and history as well. The coastal state has some lush and beautiful forests that would appear on a postcard. The coastal region too is lovely, with cliffs and the Pacific Ocean as far as you can see. The mountains and lakes also are stunning, and Crater Lake is famous throughout the U.S. Experience this beautiful state and the Oregon National Parks, sites and trails it has to offer. The state is packed with natural wonders to see; with scenic views almost every which way you turn.