Scaling Somnambulant Summits: Mount Hood and Volcanic Vistas of Oregon
Oregon is a state filled with natural beauty begging to be discovered. From epic coastlines and windswept beaches to thick forests and towering volcanoes, the landscape of Oregon offers an adventure around every corner. In this travel guide, we'll share some of the top destinations and trips that will leave you breathless in the Beaver State.
No trip to Oregon would be complete without spending time along its rugged Pacific coastline. One of the premier destinations is Cannon Beach, located just over 100 miles west of Portland. Home to some of the most stunning beaches you'll ever see, Cannon Beach is most famous for its towering sea stacks just offshore. Haystack Rock is the most prominent of the group and makes for some picture-perfect scenic shots. Be sure to brave the cold Pacific waves here - the feeling of standing amidst the immense power of the ocean is truly exhilarating.
Just a short drive up the coast is Ecola State Park, with hiking trails that reward you with breathtaking cliffside views of sea stacks, waves crashing below, and green forests stretching for miles inland. Late summer and early fall are the perfect times to visit, when you can potentially spot migrating gray whales from the park's scenic overlooks. And if you can hold off your travels until winter, you might even experience the occasional snow!
Another must-see along the coast is the whimsical Victorian village of Cannon Beach. Wander the shops, breathe in the ocean air, and grab a bite of clam chowder from one of the local seafood shacks. Then hit the beach in the evening to watch the sunset over the Pacific - it's a truly magical experience. The coast of Oregon holds remarkable natural beauty, so be sure to slow down and truly appreciate the rugged shorelines.
When you need a break from the Pacific's power, retreat inland to explore Oregon'sabundant forests. One excellent basecamp is Bend, a city surrounded by hundreds of thousands of acres of national forest land ripe for exploration. Within an hour's drive from Bend are countless trails suited for every ability, from relaxed jaunts amongst ponderosa pines to steep climbs up the flanks of glacier-capped volcanoes with panoramic mountain views.
A particularly worthwhile hike starts at the Mt. Bachelor Trailhead and ascends through forests to Pine Marten Lake, a verdant alpine cirque holding crystal clear waters. On a clear day, the rugged Three Sisters massif looms above, their glaciated peaks reflecting turquoise hues. Multi-day backpack trips deeper into the Cascades are also an option for those seeking solitude amidst Oregon's wilderness.
When you need a break from hiking, Bend is also rapidly becoming one of Oregon's top mountain biking destinations. Over 500 miles of trails wind through pine forests, along riverbanks, and up into high alpine valleys - there truly is no shortage of pedaling adventures. For those new to mountain biking, exploring the groomed greenway trails along the Deschutes River is a relaxing way to dip your tire. More advanced mountain bikers can tackle challenging downhill runs like the Pine Marten or Black Butte routes.
With so much natural splendor close by, it's easy to while away several days exploring the forests around Bend. But don't forget to experience the city itself! From acclaimed breweries and restaurants to world-class mountain sports shops, Bend has much to offer when taking a break from the trails. The city rightly calls itself the outdoor capital of Oregon.
No trip to the Beaver State would be complete without seeing some of its iconic volcanoes. Newberry Volcanic National Monument lies just two hours southeast of Bend, preserving one of the few active volcanoes in the Cascade Range. Hike the Rim Trail here for close-up views of red volcanic cinder cones and obsidian fields polished smooth by eons of geological activity.
Keep heading southeast and you'll reach the awe-inspiring Mount Hood, Oregon's highest peak and the most symmetrical mountain in the nation. In the summer, its massive glaciers glow brilliant cobalt blue against lush pine forests. Be sure to spend a night at the historic Timberline Lodge, built in the rustic allure of a Rocky Mountain ski resort. At over 6,000 feet elevation, enjoy breathtaking views of the mountain from the lodge's terraces as alpenglow colors the snowy flanks.
Vineyard hopping along the Columbia River is another top activity. The Willamette Valley boasts over 800 vineyards, many specializing in cool climate varietals like Pinot Noir. Stop in at Anne Amie or Stoller Family Estate for award-winning wines served with delectable appetizers, then admire views of emerald hills dotted with grapevines as far as the eye can see. No visit to Oregon would be complete without indulging in some acclaimed wines from this region.
Multnomah Falls is another must-see natural wonder, plunging 620 feet as one of the highest urban waterfalls in the nation. Located right off I-84 just east of Portland, it's easily accessible yet retains a sense of rugged grandeur. Walk the paved trails and feel the mist from the falls, gazing upon emerald rainforests cloaking the Columbia River Gorge. Oregon truly holds some of America's most breathtaking landscapes.
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From epic coastlines to verdant rainforests, snowcapped volcanoes to vine-striped valleys, Oregon holds adventures and discoveries around every turn. Spend your time appreciating the profound beauty of the state's wilderness areas, from the crashing surf of the Pacific to the stark otherworldliness of volcanic fields. Indulge in acclaimed local fare, libations and accommodation.
Most importantly, experience Oregon at a comfortable pace. Slow down to truly appreciate the raw power of the landscapes, and you'll leave with memories to last a lifetime. With so much to discover in the Beaver State's diverse terrain, you may just need multiple trips to soak it all in. Oregon calls to outdoor lovers seeking to reconnect with nature - now go and answer that call.