National and State Parks to visit in Oregon

An+illustration+of+a+person+and+their+dog+visiting+three+different+national+parks%2Freserves

By Alex Koetje, OMN Illustrator

An illustration of a person and their dog visiting three different national parks/reserves.

Taylor Bacon, Beaver's Digest Contributor

1. Crater Lake National Park

Oregon State’s only National Park, known for being the deepest lake in America, is Crater Lake National Park. The water is so blue because the only water it gets is from either rain or snow melt, as it has no other inlets for water. It has over 20 different hikes, the top ones being Garfield Peak Trail, Cleetwood Cove Trail and The Watchman Peak Trail. Garfield Peak Trail is a moderate 3.4-miles out-and-back loop and the trailhead is located at the east end of Rim Village. Cleetwood Cove Trail is a bit shorter at two miles, and is also a loop-style trail. It is best to visit this trail July through October. The Watchman Peak Trail is the shortest of these three top ones at 1.7 miles. It leads to a steep 360-degree lookout point on the west side of the lake, above a historic fire lookout. Park entry is $55 for a season pass, and a private vehicle pass (15 passengers or less) is $20-30. 

 

2. Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

At over 130 kilometers in length and up to 12,000 meters in certain places, this nationally-protected area has tons of scenery and different kinds of nature. About two hours from Corvallis, Ore., and east of Portland, this route passes through the beautiful mountains and the wondrous 190-meter-high waterfall called Multnomah Falls. Columbia RIver Gorge offers many different hiking and biking paths, as well as rock climbing and rafting spots. Its top trail is the Multnomah Falls Trail. It is open year-round and is a very popular 2.4-mile out-and-back trail. Its second most popular is the Wahkeena Falls Loop. It’s a longer trail, at 6.1 miles, but it has tons of viewpoints and even a waterfall. It is best used from the months of April through October. It’s also very affordable, at only $5 for a day pass. 

 

3. Ecola State Park

Although Oregon might not be known for its beaches, one in particular is very well known. Ecola State Park, located off of Cannon Beach in northwest Oregon is one of the most stunning beaches in the state. This 15 kilometer beach offers sensational tide pools where all different types of species call home, and beach stacks as well as lush rainforest inland of it. Ecola State Park is also known for being in films like “The Goonies” as well as “Twilight.” This state park also offers a couple hiking trails to view the Pacific Ocean from. This state park is also affordable, a day pass being $5. 

 

4. Silver Falls State Park

Throughout all of Oregon’s State Parks, this one in particular is deemed the “crown jewel” of the park system. It’s the closest to Corvallis in this list—located in Salem, Ore., just an hour away. Not only does it have many beautiful hiking trails lined with waterfalls, it also offers trails for horseback riding as well as camping spots. The top attraction here is the 54-meter waterfall called South Falls, as well as the North Falls and the Winter falls. These three waterfalls are a part of the Trail of Ten Falls Loop, which is nine miles long. The Lower North Falls also offers views of waterfalls but at a shorter distance of 3.8 miles. As part of the state parks, the cost to enter for the day is $5.

 

5. Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

Looking for a change of pace? Look no further than Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. Located in southern Oregon between Coos Bay and Florence, about two and a half hours away, this area is packed with different experiences. What makes it so special is the range it has, from camping to dune-buggying. The dunes are the largest coastal sands in North America and can be as high as 150 meters in some places. For an entry fee of $5, visitors have access to lakes, islands, beaches, forests, and fueling activities such as hiking, camping, canoeing and fishing.