22 Things to Do in Oregon — From Coastal Bike Routes to Canyon Hikes

Rugged coastline, starry night skies, and local breweries — these are the best places to visit in Oregon.

Snowy winder scene of Crater Lake in Oregon
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There's a reason why hundreds of thousands of pioneers braved the Oregon Trail in the mid-1800s. At the end of the roughly 2,000-mile route was Oregon — a state with a little bit of everything, from lush, fertile valleys where berries, pears, plums, and cherries thrive, to expansive high deserts and wild coastlines. And let's not forget the skyscraper-high waterfalls (many flow all year round) and the fact that in modern-day Oregon, you can ski on a potentially active stratovolcano.

There's plenty to see and do — so where do you start? We sifted through the state's 11 national forests, 361 state parks, quaint small towns, and unique sites to determine the best of the best. Here are 22 things to do in Oregon.

Hiker taking in the view of the Cascade peaks from Castle Rock Trail, Willamette National Forest, Oregon.
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Willamette National Forest

Situated between Eugene and Bend is the expansive Willamette National Forest (clocking in at a whopping 1,678,031 acres). Within the wooded expanse are eight wilderness areas, seven volcanic mountain peaks, and enough waterfalls to keep even the biggest cascade lover entertained for days.

Alvord Hot Springs

Two pools dating back to the 1940s sit at the edge of the Alvord Desert, near the eastern base of Steens Mountain. Day trippers and overnight guests at the Alvord Hot Springs Bath House & Campground can soak the day away in one of the state's most renowned and historic geothermal springs. (The water comes out of the ground at 170 degrees, cooling when mixed in the soaking pools.)

Aerial View of Leslie Gulch in the Owyhee Canyonlands
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Owyhee Canyonlands

Those looking for a remote, off-the-grid getaway will find it in the Owyhee Canyonlands in southeastern Oregon. Here, hikers will discover a side of Oregon not seen by most travelers — a place of deep canyons, petroglyphs, and bighorn sheep. And thanks to its remote, dark-sky locale, the stargazing is out of this world.

Hells Canyon

Hells Canyon holds the title as the deepest river gorge in North America, topping even the Grand Canyon. In addition to being over a mile deep, the canyon is 10 miles wide. Visitors to the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area (managed by the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest) can float the mighty Snake River and hike along the rim.

Timberline Trail

If you're an experienced hiker with a penchant for adventure, make your way to the Timberline Trail on Mount Hood. The 41.4-mile loop fully circumnavigates the stratovolcano, taking those willing to put in the work through alpine meadows, Cascade forests, and glacial-fed drainages. If you don't have time to do the full trail, you can do just a segment — including one that overlaps with the iconic Pacific Crest Trail.

Multnomah Falls, Oregon
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Multnomah Falls

One of the most beautiful and accessible waterfalls in the state is Multnomah Falls, a cascade found just off the interstate in the Columbia River Gorge. The best time to see the falls is in the winter and spring, when the flow of water is at its peak.


The oldest city in Oregon (founded in 1811) remains one of the state's most stunning, with a location on the Columbia River, near the Pacific Ocean. In addition to offering views for days, Astoria has a distinct Scandinavian feel, plenty of local breweries, and a rich history.

Cottonwood Canyon State Park

Cottonwood Canyon State Park is known for its wide-open expanse of grasslands cut by canyons and cliffs carved by the John Day River. It's the place to go for year-round camping, hiking, fishing, boating, and wildlife spotting — the 8,000-plus acre park houses elk, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, coyotes, and bighorn sheep.

Ecola State Park

Misty mornings are common in Ecola State Park, a piece of land that stretches nine miles along the rugged Oregon coast. Sea stacks shoot out of the sand, surfers line up along the break, and hikers meander along the park's network of trails — including an 8-mile segment of the Oregon Coast Trail.

View of South East (SE) Portland, Oregon from Pittock Mansion.
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While not the state's capital, Portland is easily Oregon's most famous city. Food trucks, hip coffee houses, breweries, and donut shops seem to be everywhere, but no trip is complete without a visit to the Portland Japanese Garden and an afternoon spent perusing Powell's Books, the world's largest independent bookstore.

Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort

Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort has the highest base elevation of any ski area in Oregon, which makes for lots of snow and great skiing in the winter and wonderfully cool temperatures in the summer. In addition to everything the resort offers, the Anthony Lakes area is home to 15 lakes and marshes set amongst the stunning Blue Mountains.

Hood River

Just an hour east of Portland is the small, but growing community of Hood River. It's the place to try your hand at windsurfing (the town is often called the windsurfing capital of the world, after all) followed by a farm-to-table dinner and locally made beer and wine.

Devils Punch Bowl

The Oregon coast is a wild place, and nowhere is that more apparent than at the Devils Punch Bowl. In the winter, the ocean collides with the punch bowl (a hollow rock formation resembling a huge punch bowl) creating a thunderous roar and a dramatic churning of water. The area is also home to great tidepools, surfing, and whale watching.

Snowy winder scene of Crater Lake in Oregon
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Crater Lake National Park

The heart of Crater Lake National Park is Crater Lake, which was formed by a collapsed volcano and is now the deepest lake in the U.S. (the average depth is 1,943 feet). You can drive around the lake, which is fed by rain and snow, and scope out Wizard Island near the lake's western edge.

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

To time travel to ancient Oregon, you only need to visit the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, a series of colorful rock formations that have recorded climate changes and planet and animal evolutions for millions of years.

Haystack Rock Reflection at Cannon Beach
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Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach may be small, but it makes up for its size with a landscape that includes long, sandy shores, tide pools, and the iconic Haystack Rock, a giant sea stack that houses tufted puffins. The town has plenty of galleries and boutiques to keep you entertained once you're done exploring the area's wild coastline.

The Oregon Trail

The Oregon National Historic Trail, better known as "the Oregon Trail" traverses through six states, but the trail's ultimate destination was and is the state of Oregon. Multiple sites in the state transport you back to the days when brave pioneers slowly made their way west of the Rocky Mountains.

Oregon Caves

Going inside the Siskiyou Mountains is more than doable thanks to the Oregon Caves, also known as the "Marble Halls of Oregon." Twisted passageways make their way through the marble-like rock leading to jaw-dropping caves.

Mount Bachelor and Lava Lake Sunset
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Mt. Bachelor Ski and Snowboard Resort

With over 460 inches of snowfall a year (on average) and a ski season that lasts much longer than most, Mt. Bachelor has made a name for itself across the country. Plus, once summer hits, the mountain morphs into a mountain biker's paradise.

Oregon Coast Bike Route

Most people do only a segment of the 370-mile Oregon Coast Bike Route, but the full route is doable — and truly enjoyable. The journey is best undertaken in late summer and early fall and best ridden north to south (due to wind). Along the way you'll enjoy coastal views and more than your fair share of stunning Oregon sunsets.

Sea lion caves in Oregon
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Sea Lion Caves

In addition to being America's largest sea cave, the Sea Lion Caves are home to — you guessed it — hundreds of sea lions who spend the winter in the caves before venturing out to the rookery areas for breeding and birthing.

Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is home to one of the largest expanses of temperate coastal sand dunes in the world. Here, you'll find a welcome dose of solitude as you explore 40 miles of dunes stacked along the Oregon Coast.

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