From Route 5 to the Pacific coast, become immersed in the beauty of the Pacific Northwest
The Pacific Northwest is known for its abundance of greenery and beautiful natural attractions and the state of Oregon is no exception. From breathtaking waterfalls to wonderful wildlife and miles of hiking trails, Oregon provides travelers with practically endless opportunities for having fun in the fresh air.
When you first think of city living you may not immediately jump to natural attractions, but Portland is packed with over 200 parks and gardens to satisfy one’s need to disconnect. Northwest of the downtown area, West Hill’s Forest Park expands across 5,000 acres and is home to over 70 miles of hiking and over 100 species of birds. Leach Botanical Gardens also hosts thousands of species of both plants and animals with wildlife viewing areas and walking trails while a trip to the West Hills and Portland Japanese Garden brings tranquility and one of the most authentic Japanese gardens outside of Japan.
Farther south, the state’s capital, Salem, is located in the heart of Willamette Valley and is surrounded by orchards, vineyards, and luscious fields of flowers and greenery. The city prides itself in its parks system, which provides event space, neighborhood recreation and peaceful leisure REDISCOVER THE OUTDOORS IN OREGON From Route 5 to the Pacific coast, become immersed in the beauty of the Pacific Northwest By Jill Pillow spaces for visitors. Notably, Riverfront Park, home to the well-known Riverfront Carousel, has grassy areas, an amphitheater, play equipment and a dock and is known for hosting a variety of large events and festivals. About three miles southeast lies the relaxing Cascades Gateway Park, the perfect way to spend an afternoon with a disc golf course, fishing access, picnic areas and a natural trail system.
About 45 minutes south of Corvallis lies the adventure hub that is Alsea Falls. This natural recreation site is the perfect place to spend either a few hours or an entire weekend. With swimming holes, hiking trails, campsites, fishing, and more, the area has activities for visitors of all ages.
Closer to the downtown Corvallis area is the Brandis Natural Area with Douglas fir groves and beautiful views of the open natural landscape. Southeast of the city is the protected Willamette area which is home to cultivated farmlands, wetlands, prairies, and forests which provide the perfect refuge for Canada Geese and Tundra Swan making it a must visit for birdwatchers.
With year-round temperate weather, the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region is naturally a great choice for outdoor adventure seekers. “The landscape is perfect for outdoor activities with an impressive range of nearby hikes, bike trails, and natural parks at your fingertips.” Being the sunset state, one can only anticipate gorgeous sunset viewing areas during their stay and the Eugene region has plenty. Fern Ridge Reservoir at Orchard Point and Ferry Street Bridge are both locations where you can watch the sun sink down upon the water. Looking to work for those sunset views? You can hike Mount Baldy for an open view of either sunrise or sunset while avoiding the golden hour crowds.
Due to the higher levels of rainfall typically seen in the region, the Eugene area is also a destination home to an abundance of waterfalls. The Trestle Creek Falls hike is the “ultimate waterfall adventure” with options for either a moderate 0.75-mile hike or a more difficult 3.25-mile hike which takes adventurers behind the waterfall itself. More experienced trail-goers should also take a trip to the Kentucky Falls, where hikers should expect the unexpected along with a steep climb on the tail end of the journey.
Along the western shore, Oregon’s Adventure Coast is comprised of Coos Bay, North Bend, and Charleston and is an undiscovered jewel on the Oregon coast that offers space to spread out while visitors experience some of the best outdoor recreation in the state. The area has a plethora of outdoor adventure options both on land and in the water from crabbing, fishing, and exploring tide pools to visiting one of the many gorgeous lighthouses in the area or sandboarding on the dunes.
Coos County has around 30 different fishing locations, both lake and river, where the fish stay biting throughout every season. And, with both rocky and sandy beach shores along the coast, marine life varies greatly from location to location and tidepools allow for clear and easy observation of the fascinating marine world of crabs, sea stars, sea slugs, octopods, and much more.
The Adventure Coast region is also where thrill seekers can experience the largest expanse of coastal sand dunes in North America. The 30,000 + acres of dunes allow for sandboarding, horseback riding, and ATVing among other unique activities. Those interested in sandboarding have the option to try both gradual roped off beginner slopes and more thrilling and steep slopes for the more experienced boarder.
In the southernmost region of Oregon and in the heart of Rogue Valley, the Medford area has a wide variety of natural attractions and outdoor activities ranging from relaxing to adrenaline sparking. Rogue Valley Zipline Adventure takes guests on a 2-3-hour journey across five different ziplines for views that can’t be found anywhere else. Then, explore the Rogue River from the shore or by paddle board, kayak, or whitewater rafting trip. Jet boat tours on the river also allow guests to take in the serene atmosphere while learning about the history behind the surrounding Table Rock area.
Lastly, among the many beautiful sights in Medford and Rogue Valley are the aromatic fields of purple lavender and vineyards of wine country, the ideal destinations for a summer day trip or weekend getaway. Whether seeking relaxing coastal views or thrilling physical challenges, Oregon’s natural beauty brings something fun for every kind of traveler.
By Jill Pillow