4 MUST SEE OREGON MARVELS
Updated: Aug 21, 2020
For those of you that live in the Pacific Northwest, you may already know of these must-see Oregon wonders. But for those of you visiting and wanting an outdoor playground, these are some of the best places to go to. These are spots that, whether you are hiking, walking, or camping, have a view worth seeing.
1. DETROIT LAKE STATE PARK
Located east of Salem, Oregon, Detroit Lake was created as a water reservoir for its nearby communities. The lake's original purpose was for flood control from the Detroit Dam, but it has since become a multi-purpose state park.
We stayed at the Detroit Lake campsite for a few days; kayaking, walking trails, and riding our bikes. The afternoon we kayaked, we realized that the lake was so large there was no way we could get through it all. The entire perimeter of the lake is about 9 miles long!
The water level fluctuates depending on what season you go, so you may find that parts of the lake are dried up. We found this area, which led to the boat ramp, and decided to have our own hiking excursion through it.
Our visit was during the fall season, which meant fewer people on the site, giving you a more remote and cozy camping vibe. It was such a chill and beautiful place to see, whether you go with the family, or furry friends, Detroit Lake is an Oregon gem.
2. CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK
Crater Lake was created through the volcanic eruption of Mount Mazama, which once exploded formed the large caldera we now know as the lake. It is the deepest lake in the United States and the ninth deepest in the world! It is part of the Cascade Ranges and is located in Southern Oregon near the city of Klamath Falls.
Going to Crater Lake was a highlight of visiting Southern Oregon. While there, you can take several trails, check out the visitor center, or my all-time favorite, stare at the lake in awe. That is basically what we did while there, and have absolutely no regrets.
The drive to Crater Lake is beautiful and covered in pine trees. You may lose reception on the way, so if you make the trip be sure to download the offline google maps for a safe venture. We went in October, and it was perfect. There was snow, but not too much where we couldn't drive. Although if you go a bit later, it could be challenging to get to the park or even be closed.
3. SMITH ROCK STATE PARK
Smith Rock State Park is covered in deep river canyons formed through a series of volcanic eruptions almost 30 million years ago. Then about 400,000 years ago, Newberry Volcano exploded, sending lava flows through the canyon and creating even more rock formations. Through the canyon flows a river which creates and even more intriguing view of nature.
Out of the list of Oregon must-see places, Smith Rock was my favorite. We spent three days camping here and hiked throughout the canyon. We went with dogs and had to keep them on a leash at all times. For us, that worked out great with one of our dogs, but the other one who is an energetic lab had a difficult time with it. This would be something worth if you have a pup that wants to roam on their own.
There are 12 official trails in the park, although there are over 650 acres of land to explore. This park is also really well known for climbing, attracting climbers from all over the world! Although I like climbing, this was on another level and somewhat intimidating to see!
The best part of my stay, was camping and waking up to see this.
4. JOHN DAY FOSSIL BEDS
John Day Fossil Beds is the epitome of millions of years of history (maybe more) in one place. It is covered in colorful erosion and ancient life. Within John Day, there are different areas or "units" to see. We went to the Painted Hills Unit, which shows exposed volcanic layers and rocks containing leaf and animal fossils.
We made it to John Day on the same trip as Smith Rock State Park as they are about 1.5 hours away from each other and spent a full day here.
While there, we went to the visitor center and learned about the science within fossil beds. This gave us a cool perspective for when we walked around the premises to our first trail, the Painted Hills Overlook.
We went on about two or three different trails. Some of these you can start from the visitor center, but others you have to drive to other areas within John Day.
I visited the Painted Hills in the fall, and the drive and weather was so lovely and easy. I had never been to a place with so much ancient history and beauty at the same time. It was shocking to see all of the browns, oranges, and yellow hues at painted hills, making my time there highly memorable.
Each of these four marvels provides a diverse and unique landscape. Even if you think you've seen it all, these spots offer a dynamic experience. Next time you visit Oregon, consider taking the time to go to at least one of these!