Did you know that Oregon is home to a whole bunch of mesmerizing things you would never believe existed in this Pacific Northwest State? Iceland or Utah maybe, but Oregon? You would never guess! Oregon is famous for the over-crowded-yet-beautiful Multnomah Falls, the Columbia River Gorge, the stunning coast, and the foggy forests, but there are so many crazy-cool places to be discovered!
5 Crazy-Cool Oregon Landscapes You Didn’t Know Existed
1. Hot Springs
Hot springs in Oregon? You bet! Many of the mountains in the Cascades are volcanic in nature and the subterranean heat helps to produce hot springs. People often travel abroad to Iceland to visit geothermal pools but not many know that Oregon is home to many.
Don’t forget to check out some of the Best Airbnbs In Oregon, from cute cabins to treehouses and more!
Whether you are interested in crystal clear blue pools in the middle of the woods, springs hanging off the side of a mountain, hot pockets nestled right alongside a glacial river, or man-made wooden hot tubs, there is an epic Oregon hot spring for you to run away to. A word of caution: some hot springs are clothing optional and many bathers opt out of swimwear.
2. Lava Fields
The stark landscape of hardened lava as far as the eye can see is a sight to behold and many people travel to Hawaii, Italy, Iceland, or New Zeland to visit these unique locations. Not many people know that a vast network of lava fields and caves can be found right in Oregon! The state is often associated with lush forests and a lovely coast, but thousands of acres of straight-up lava surrounded by volcanic mountains is a sight that shouldn’t be missed!
3. Basalt Columns
People who have visited Northern Ireland [Giant’s Causeway] or Iceland like to perpetuate the myth that basalt columns are unique to these locations and therefore travelers MUST see them. While not every destination is known for its columnar basalt, it certainly isn’t specific to Iceland/Ireland.
Oregon has TONS of easily accessible basalt columns that are just as stellar as their European counterparts and Latourell Falls in the Columbia River Gorge [pictured above], is just one of many easy day trips you can make from Portland! Columnar basalt can be found all over the state including near waterfalls, in the middle of the woods, and on the coast. By the time you leave the state, you will have seen enough unique basalt to satisfy even the pickiest geologist.
4. Covered Bridges
If you have spent time in places such as Ohio, Vermont, or New Hampshire, chances are you have seen a covered bridge. That being said, who the heck knew they were plentiful in the likes of Oregon? Central Oregon’s Lane County is home to the largest number of covered bridges in the west. Covered bridges are a lovely reminder of a bygone era and driving past them makes you feel like you are living in a real life postcard. Make sure to take a moment to drive through the bridge too for a different perspective.
5. The Desert
Lush forests, towering mountains, plenty of rain, and misty fog are all what you would expect to find in Oregon…but the desert?! In reality, about two-thirds of the entire state is covered in the type of landscape you would find in Arizona, Nevada, and Utah! If you don’t know what you are getting into, the striking contrast between visiting moss covered trees and then discovering that stark red rocks exist less than an hour away is quite breathtaking.
In Oregon, you can go crazy with rock climbing, fossil beds, sleepy towns, and basking in the history of the old Wild West. If you only have a few days, John Day Fossil Beds/The Painted Hills and Smith Rock State Park should top your bucket list!
READ NEXT: 5 Of The Best Airbnb Getaways In Oregon
Special thanks to Travel Oregon for hosting us during our entire trip and to Eugene, Cascades, and Coast for hosting us during our stay in Lane Country. As always, all opinions are our own.
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I have plenty of friends and family in Oregon, and your post is making me wonder why I haven’t visited since I was literally 5 years old! Also, I really like your two options of images to Pin at the bottom – that’s a cool idea I may need to borrow for some of my blog posts. =)
I’ll take the hot springs please! Cool travel post; thanks for sharing. 🙂 I’ve never been to Oregon.
SOOOO pretty. My husband and I used to talk about all the places outside the US we wanted to visit but now we try and focus on the beauty that is right here in our own country.
Beautiful! Never had Oregon on my list to visit but these are beautiful!
How gorgeous! Honestly didn’t know all the Oregon had to offer, it’s now added to my list! Maybe I’ll even find a race out there…
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A race there would be absolutely beautiful! Plus, it isn’t even that expensive to fly to!
The landscapes in Oregon are one of the major reasons why people love it here. And so many outdoor activities to experience…
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You are so lucky to live in such a beautiful place!
I do think Oregon needs to be added to our wish list, I had it on my original list but it was cut. It is incredible how diverse the state is!! Definitely in the running for the final 4 to be added to the list!!
My friend just moved to Oregon. This post makes me so excited to visit!
Love the articles but PLEASE LET YOUR READERS KNOW that all that wonderful greenery is fed by NONSTOP RAIN. It rains all the time. Can I emphasize that it’s simply CONTINUAL. The Native Americans had over 500 classifications of rain and Oregon is the reason why. So if cold and wet is how you want to spend your vacation, I guess we can’t stop you from coming but then also know that THE VOLCANOES EXPLODE. Just today there was a cluster of tremors on Mt. Hood, looming over Portland like a menacing spear of destruction. And of course everybody read the big New York Times article on the MASSIVE TSUNAMI that is about the inundate our coast with a 500-foot wall of water that will reset history as we know it. Right? So while you may not HEAR about Oregon disasters as often as California, Texas or Florida….ours will be bigger and inescapable. So may we suggest that Banff has better mountains? Or Colorado? Or that the climate in Cincinnati is absolutely marvelous in June? Everything nice in Oregon burned this summer in MASSIVE WILDFIRES, anyway….so don’t bother.
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Hey Clint! This is all SO TRUE!! We were actually less than 10 miles away from the horrible fires in Oregon for 2 weeks this summer/fall. We didn’t see the sun for two weeks because the ash cloud was that bad and we cheered with the locals when the first drizzle of rain came down! Oregon does rain a ton but it also rains a ton here in Florida and people still flock here for some unknown reason! Perhaps we should write a post about the best time to visit Oregon and warn readers about the rain too! We have been lucky to travel right before rainy season and escape it!