Oregon is revered for its many natural attractions. The beautiful scenery, the majestic wildlife – nature is an inherent part of the Oregon experience. To get the most of your Oregon stay, check out these 11 top natural attractions in Oregon presented by Lerner and Rowe. From the ocean to caves, from the woods to the mountains, there is a piece of Oregon’s sublimity for everyone.
Portland Japanese Garden
Portland has had an interest in Japanese culture since the late 1950s. In the 1960s, Mayor Terry Schrunk and other Portland community members banded together to create this tranquil garden. In 1963, Professor Takuma Tono from Tokyo finalized the design for the garden, and in 1967, the Portland Japanese Garden opened to the public for the first time.
There are five separate gardens, all with distinct traditional styles. The entire site spans 5.5 acres, and there is always something to see, no matter the time of year. You can purchase a regular membership, or you can get a photographer’s membership if you want to take pictures of the carefully tended sanctuary. Also, don’t forget to check out the authentic tea house that was built in Japan, disassembled, and reassembled at the Portland Japanese Garden.
Stay safe, though! There are plenty of stone bridges and statues in the garden that can harm you if you fall onto them. Moreover, there are even some bodies of water that may unintentionally attract children. Keep an eye on everyone in your party, and if you or someone you know suffers injury, contact Lerner and Rowe right away.
This enormous mass located in Ecola State Park is approximately 1,200 feet high and rests on the ocean near the coast. You can hike through the very trail that Lewis and Clarke trekked in 1806 when they went in search of whale blubber. Oh, and a fun fact: the mass is made of solidified lava! That’s right: it’s a remnant of 15-million-year-old Columbia River basalt flow.
There are plenty of other trails to hike through, as well, and there are even picnic areas and campsites. Pets are welcome (though they must be on a leash), and the entire site is lush with greenery. It’s one of the most magnificent natural phenomena in the entire state, so you won’t want to miss it!
Mount Hood National Forest
Over one million acres of forest spread across and beyond Mount Hood, a potentially active volcano. The forest is approximately sixty-miles long and covers territory in many Oregon counties. Visit the streams, lakes, or even the volcano itself! You could even enjoy yourself in one of their campgrounds. When camping, though, make sure you have the appropriate supplies and know proper safety procedures.
The forest can be found about 60 miles east of Oregon. First opening in 1892 and later being expanded in 1893 and again in 1908, the forest has a rich, scenic history. The forest was even featured in the 1952 film Bend of the River. That’s right: Not only is Mount Hood National Forest an area with ecological importance, but it’s also a part of film history. You can come check it out yourself and see the historical site with your own eyes.
The Mycelial Mat
For those visiting Oregon that want a truly unique experience, the largest living organism (by area) is available right inside Oregon’s Malheur National Forest. No, seriously. The organism is labeled Armillaria ostoyae, otherwise known as the honey mushroom. That’s right: it’s a fungus that spans 2,200 acres (nearly 3.5 mi2) and is well over 2,000 years old.
Much of the year, the organism takes the form of a thin, white layer known as mycelium. Other times of the year, the fruiting bodies may reveal themselves – these are the mushrooms with the stems and caps, as many are used to. Additionally, people often refer to the organism as “the shoestring mushroom” because of how its underground tendrils resemble shoestrings.
The fungus aggressively spreads and invades tree roots, starving and dehydrating them. Spreading one to three feet per year, the organism is a nearly unstoppable force and a true marvel of nature.
Silver Falls State Park
This is the largest (and arguably most gorgeous) state park in the state of Oregon, and the beauty is just as vast. Silver Falls State Park features trails that allow you to walk behind a waterfall – how cool is that? Furthermore, if you don’t want to get all wet and wild, you can meander along other trails that feature hiking, biking, horseback riding, and even pet accessibility.
Since its public opening in 1933, Silver Falls State Park has been used for family reunions, weddings, barbecues, and other events. There’s plenty of fun available for everyone, whether you’re a child and want to have fun at the playground, or a serious hiker taking on a difficult trail. Silver Falls State Park is a versatile expanse of nature with much to offer – including, of course, just short of 20 waterfalls to witness.
Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area
If you prefer a sandier adventure, the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is the place for you. Ride your off-road vehicle on 40 miles of sand along the Oregon coast for a thrilling experience. The dunes are naturally sculpted by the elements of wind, water, and time, and they are the largest coastal dunes in the entire North America region. Some of the dunes even reach as tall as 500 feet above sea level! Furthermore, fans of best-selling science-fiction author Frank Herbert will be pleased to know that his hit novel Dune was partially inspired by his research of the Oregon Dunes.
If you do decide to ride a vehicle in the Oregon Dunes, make sure you always stay safe. Just because you’re off-road doesn’t mean you’re immune from harm. When injury strikes, contact Lerner and Rowe Injury Attorneys.
Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve
The Oregon Caves is certainly one of the top natural attractions in Oregon. The caves feature winding, twisting pathways with narrow passages and low ceilings. Because of this, a certain level of agility and flexibility is required. Once inside the caves, the chilling below-50 degrees environment immediately takes over (bring a jacket!), and a tour guide will lead the adventure. This is a safe, family-friendly option that is popular among tourists and locals alike.
There are plenty of safety protocols to keep in mind when visiting the caves. Do not wear shoes or clothing that has been in any other cave or mine (this prevents an invasive fungus from infecting the caves’ native bats). Additionally, always maintain your balance by grasping the handrails, walk slowly, and check for slippery spots so you don’t slip and fall.
The Painted Hills
The colorful Painted Hills of Oregon are a marvelous sight to behold. The vivid reds, tans, oranges, golds, and other colors shine from morning to late afternoon. The site features many fossils that are millions of years old, and you can learn how wildlife in the past influenced the site you now visit.
Honored as one of the seven wonders of Oregon, you can ride your bike or hike on one of many trails the Painted Hills have to offer. Just as individuals change throughout their lives, so too do the Painted Hills change with the seasons. The time of day and weather can both affect how the Painted Hills look at any given time, yielding unexpected and unique picturesque scenes unlike any other place in Oregon. Check it out during the late afternoon for the best photos!
Whale Research Ecoexcursions
If you want to get up close and personal with some aquatic life, you can view gray whales in their natural habitat by going on an expedition. Marine Biologist Carrie Newell and her team lead you into the ocean where you’ll potentially encounter seals, sea lions, and of course whales! It’s a fantastic opportunity to see all the sea creatures that live in Oregon’s waters.
Make sure you stay safe while on the water, though. As Carrie states, everyone must wear a life jacket for safety purposes. Additionally, if you easily become seasick, talk with a crew member to see if a whale expedition could be potentially harmful to you. If you have further questions about how to stay safe on a boat, check out our blog, and don’t do anything hasty while on the water.
The Alvord Desert
Once you’re done with the ocean, you can come back on dry land – really dry land – and visit the mesmerizing Alvord Desert. During the driest periods, you can walk, drive, and even camp on the playas. Stay safe, though! If there is any water on the site, it can move quickly, especially if there is wind. Because of this, you should try to camp during the fall when there is little rainfall and it’s not too hot to handle.
If camping isn’t really your style, you can take advantage of some of their hiking trails, or even visit the hot springs! That’s right: there are hot springs in the seemingly barren wasteland. Whether you’re taking pictures or stargazing, the Alvord Desert is sure to offer a memorable experience.
Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area
One of the most fascinating places to visit in Oregon is the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. With an impressive headland and the site of the famous lighthouse featured in the film The Ring, you can journey along the Oregon coast and feast your eyes on its peaceful waters.
The entire site is approximately 95 acres, and you can do everything from bird-watching to touring the lighthouse. Also, there are a few hiking trails available in the area, and these ones are shorter and less strenuous than previous ones mentioned in this list, making them perfect for brief adventures without too much hassle.
Suffer an Injury During Your Oregon Vacation?
No matter where you choose to visit in Oregon, it’s important to stay safe on your trip. If you or someone you know suffers injury due to someone else’s negligence, contact Lerner and Rowe right away. Our personal injury lawyers have years of experience, and we know how to fight for the compensation you deserve.
Call us anytime at 844-977-1900. Alternatively, you can contact us online by filling out a form or by taking advantage of our LiveChat feature. Don’t wait to contact us after an injury; speak with an attorney right away!
The information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.