Due to its untamed natural beauty and seemingly endless coastline, Oregon has long distinguished itself as one of the nation’s top travel destinations.
However, its landscape is still much more varied and beautiful than any images or descriptions could convey. You have to see it to believe it.
Oregon has also played a fascinating part in American history. Native Americans lived there, it was the end of Lewis and Clark’s Voyage of Discovery, and the United States and Britain disputed it before being incorporated as a US territory in 1848.
Below, you’ll find a list of some of the most famous landmarks in Oregon that showcase the state’s natural, historical, and cultural attributes.
Famous Landmarks in Oregon
1. Timberline Lodge
Located in Clackamas County, Oregon, about 60 miles east of Portland, Timberline Lodge is a mountain lodge on the south side of Mount Hood.
The Works Progress Administration built it between 1936 and 1938, and local craftsmen built and furnished it during the Great Depression.
The Mount Hood Scenic Byway connects to the National Historic Landmark, located in the Mount Hood National Forest at an elevation of 6,000 feet.
Timberline Lodge, a well-liked tourist destination with two million annual tourists, is privately and publicly owned. It is significant in cinema since it served as the Overlook Hotel’s exterior in the 1980 film, The Shining.
The Timberline Lodge ski resort is located on the lodge’s property. It features the United States’ most extended skiing season and is accessible to snow lovers throughout the year. Skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, hiking, biking, and climbing are among Timberline Lodge’s accessible activities.
2. Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
The 80-mile-long and up to 4,000-foot-deep Columbia River gorge is a gorgeous river canyon that meanders past towering cliffs, daunting spires, and impossible ridges.
Carved out of the Cascade Mountains in Oregon and Washington as the mighty Columbia River flows toward the Pacific Ocean, the gorge was created by ancient volcanoes and molded by enormous floods.
The Columbia River Gorge is a region of true Pacific Northwest contrasts because it is the sole sea-level passage from the Great Basin to the Pacific Ocean.
The western gorge is home to misty mountains, lush forests, and more waterfalls than any other region in the nation, with an average annual rainfall of 75 inches.
Conversely, with fewer than 15 inches of yearly precipitation, the eastern gorge is home to rim-rock bluffs, rolling hills, farms, and ranch lands.
3. Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake is awe-inspiring. Native Americans were present to witness its creation 7,700 years ago when a powerful eruption caused a high peak to collapse.
The park, which crowns the Cascade Mountain Range, is home to lush woods, an abundance of wildlife, and a stunning blue lake deserving of the moniker “lake majesty.” It is one of the most pristine lakes on Earth and the deepest in the United States. Scientists are astounded by its purity.
Fed by rain and snow, the lake’s clear water and breathtaking location above the Cascade Mountain Range are marveled at by artists, photographers, and tourists.
Visitors today are inspired by the region’s ancient geologic history as they swim, snowshoe, ski, hike, and cycle through the breathtaking environment. At Crater Lake National Park, there are countless additional activities to participate in and thousands of acres to discover.
4. Washington Park
You won’t have to travel very far to get away from the urban city center because Washington Park, a free urban park, is only two and a half miles east of Portland.
It has a zoo, museums, an arboretum, a rose garden, a Japanese garden, an amphitheater, memorials, an archery range, tennis courts, a soccer field, picnic spaces, playgrounds, public art, and a great deal of open space with miles of hiking trails.
Washington Park, a cultural gem of Oregon, boasts more than 400 acres. Located atop a forested hill above Portland, the park was initially designed in 1871. However, it remained undeveloped for years until construction slowly began in the early 20th century.
5. Portland Japanese Garden
The Portland Japanese Garden is a calm urban sanctuary that overlooks the city, located in the hills of Portland, Oregon’s renowned Washington Park.
Established in 1963, the gardens span 12 acres with eight distinct designs, a genuine Japanese Tea House, flowing, calming streams, secluded walks, and a spectacular view of 11,249-foot Mount Hood.
This is a place to let go of worldly thoughts and worries and perceive oneself as a minor yet essential component of the cosmos.
Once at the garden, a shuttle routinely travels up the hill. Non-members must pay an admission fee because the Portland Japanese Garden is a non-profit and does not receive support from the city of Portland.
6. Oregon Zoo
The Oregon Zoo is the first North American zoo west of the Mississippi. It was established in 1888 when Richard Knight bought a brown bear and a grizzly bear, marking the beginning of everything.
Knight, a former mariner who became a pharmacist, started acquiring animals from his mariner pals. He stored his collection in the back of his pharmacy at Third and Morrison streets.
The Oregon Zoo, once known as the Portland Zoo and subsequently the Washington Park Zoo, is located in Washington Park. The local Metro government owns the 64-acre zoo.
There are currently more than 1,800 animals, representing 230 different species, including 19 endangered and nine threatened species. A sizable plant collection may be seen throughout the zoo’s animal displays and specialty gardens, as well.
In addition, the Oregon Zoo manages and maintains the 2-foot-6-inch narrow gauge Washington Park & Zoo Railway, which once connected to the park’s International Rose Test Garden. Today, the railway only travels inside the zoo.
7. Silver Falls State Park
When Silver Falls City was founded in 1888, it was mainly a logging town with a small number of homesteaders. The region was heavily forested.
A local businessman began charging admission to South Falls, where the small logging town of Silver Falls City was located. Attractions included pulling automobiles over the falls and even organizing a daredevil feat where someone crossed in a canoe.
Silver Falls State Park, the largest and most visited state park in Oregon, is known for its abundance of stunning cascading waterfalls. The park is spread across 9,200 acres and is often referred to as the “crown jewel” of the Oregon State Parks system. After visiting, you will understand why.
Located close to Silverton, Silver Falls State Park has appeared in numerous films, including the 2008 hit Twilight.
8. Powell’s City of Books
The world’s largest new and used bookstore, Powell’s City of Books, has about one million books and takes up an entire city block.
The bookstore’s 68,000 square feet, ten color-coded rooms, three floors, and 3,500 sections make it simple to get lost, especially for the book lover in your life.
Situated in Portland’s Pearl District, Powell’s has something for every interest, including a staggering array of out-of-print and difficult-to-find books.
Every month, dozens of renowned authors, artists, and thinkers read in the Basil Hallward Gallery (upstairs in the Pearl Room).
In addition, the one-of-a-kind Rare Book Room attracts book lovers from far and wide to peruse an impressive collection of first editions that have been personally signed and other collectible books.
9. Haystack Rock
Haystack Rock, a 235-foot-tall erratic basalt rock, was first formed around 17 million years ago when lava intruded into softer marine layers while flowing through the former Columbia River drainage system.
It and the numerous other massive stone formations around the coast were finally discovered via erosion and geologic uplift. This monolithic inter-tidal rock is the third tallest in the entire world and a well-liked tourist spot on the Oregon Coast.
Haystack Rock is currently protected as one of the seven Marine Gardens in Oregon. Visitors can stroll up to the big rock during low tide, making it a popular spot for tide-pooling. Birds of many kinds can be spotted all year long.
Between December and March, it’s common to see gray whales, humpback whales, orcas, and sperm whales. If visitors wish to see some of the enormous beasts out in the sea, they are advised to bring binoculars, spotting scopes, and cameras.
10. Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area Siuslaw National Forest
There is no place like the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. It’s unusual and hauntingly lovely to see the ocean, trees, and sand dunes in such proximity while cloaked in mist. Here, you’ll find one of the world’s most magnificent expanses of temperate coastal dunes.
This region is home to a wide variety of plants and animals, including some that are uncommon elsewhere. In appreciation of its unique qualities, Congress established this 31,500-acre section of the Siuslaw National Forest as a National Recreation Area in 1972.
Enjoy solitude and adventure! In the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, among the tree islands, open dunes, marshes, and beaches, visitors can engage in off-highway vehicle (OHV) riding, hiking, paddling, wildlife viewing, birding, camping, picnicking, and sand play.