Everyone knows that Oregon is a spectacularly beautiful, diverse, rugged, raw, and glorious state. That’s why Oregon cities are growing like crazy with out of state transplants looking to partake in all she has to offer. While the beaver state is a lovely place to take root and raise a family, it’s also a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts looking for an adventure or a great vacation. TravelOregon.com has launched “The Seven Wonders of Oregon” campaign to showcase some of the truly wondrous gifts Oregon has to offer. Their website says, “There are 7 Wonders of the World, and not a single one of them is here in Oregon. All we can figure is whoever came up with the list must have never set foot here. They must have never seen Mt. Hood or the grandeur of the Columbia River Gorge. They certainly didn’t explore the Oregon Coast. The exposed earth of the Painted Hills, Smith Rock’s towers of volcanic ash and the alpine peaks of the Wallowas were overlooked as well. Even Crater Lake, the deepest lake in America, was left off their list. So we see your Wonders, world. And raise you 7 of our own. And we invite you to not just see them, but experience them. Because our Wonders aren’t just for taking pictures of – to truly say you’ve seen our Wonders, you have to get out of the car, hike down from the scenic vista and feel them beneath your feet. Just remember: This is Oregon. So how you go about doing that is entirely up to you.”. Now, for a glimpse into these Seven Wonders of Oregon, read on…
Mt Hood: Mt. Hood’s perpetually snowy peak — crowned by eleven glaciers, one for every thousand feet it rises above sea level — can be seen from miles and miles away. It’s home to a total of six ski areas, making it a great base camp for skiers. Historic Timberline Lodge, a WPA project built between 1936 and 1938, hosts some of the only year-round skiing anywhere on earth. The lodge’s design mirrors the lines of the mountain, and was constructed out of stone and wood from the surrounding forest. It’s also a great place to sit by the fire, have a glass of wine and marvel at the massive peak outside. Beautiful alpine lakes with names like Lost, Trillium and Mirror dot Mt. Hood’s flanks, each offering its own unique view of the mountain. Forests and valleys fill with lavender and wildflowers in the spring, and apples and pears and berries in the summer and fall — so much so that the epic drive between the mountain and the town of Hood River is called the Fruit Loop.
The Oregon Coast: All 363 miles of the Oregon Coast are free and open to all of us. Which means how you choose to explore it is entirely up to you. You can sandboard or dune buggy the sand dunes down south, or hit your way out of a sand trap inside the best public golf resort in America. You can investigate its tide pools, hike up its cliffs or down through ancient old-growth forests to discover its hidden surf spots. You can hunt for agates, or beach-comb, or build forts from washed-up driftwood. You can watch waves crash at Devil’s Churn or Devil’s Punch Bowl, or find the surprise waterfall at Hug Point. You can look for whales, or say hello to the seals, or crab from a boat or a dock or on the beach itself, at night, illuminated by the lamp of a lighthouse.
The Columbia River Gorge: Just a short drive from Portland, you’ll find the amazing view from Crown Point, where you can see the mighty Columbia nestled in the Gorge unfurl before your very eyes. Multnomah Falls and dozens of other falls like Horsetail, Ponytail and Bridal Veil line the way along the Historic Columbia River Highway. You have to go over a log mountain and wading through water to get to Lower Oneonta Falls – but once you get there, you’ll see why it was worth the trip. In the town of Hood River, you’ll find hand-scooped ice cream, hand-crafted beer, windsurfing, kiteboarding and parasailing. There’s the view from Rowena Crest, the loop up and around Dog Mountain and browsing the shelves of the oldest bookstore in all of Oregon in The Dalles. Thanks to its unique geography, the Gorge boasts a world of wine in just a 40-mile stretch. You’ll find pinot noir and chardonnay in the cool hills at the west end, while tempranillo and syrah thrive in the drier, sunnier east. US Congress recognized the unique splendor of the Gorge and designated it a National Scenic Area, the largest in America.
The Painted Hills: When you travel to the Painted Hills, you can see millions of years of history revealed in the layers of mountains of earth, one color at a time. The hills get their name from the delicately colored stratifications in the soil and the yellows, golds, blacks, and reds of the Painted Hills are best seen in the late afternoon. Tones and hue may appear to change from one visit to another, as the claystones differ with ever-changing light and moisture levels. Once you see them for yourself, it’s pretty easy to understand why the Painted Hills are one of the 7 Wonders of Oregon.
Smith Rock: At Smith Rock, towers of volcanic ash rise like the spires of a cathedral out of the sage and dust of the high desert at the birthplace of American sport climbing. Whether you come for the climb or come to unwind, you’ll see why Smith Rock is one of the 7 Wonders of Oregon.
The Wallowas: In the Wallowas, you can look down from an alpine summit and see the high desert of Indian country roll out in front of you in one direction, and then turn around and see past Hells Canyon into the next state, and some say all the way past it to the next one after that. You can hike or ride a horse to the summit, but the fastest way to the top is the gondola that rises 3,700 feet from Wallowa Lake Village to the peak of Mt. Howard. You can and should bring the whole family. Cabins and camping and mini-golf abound around Wallowa Lake. Towns like Joseph and Enterprise offer art galleries, shopping and food and drink, including handcrafted beer, craft distilleries and chocolatiers. And then there’s the land, carved by the Oregon Trail and hardly changed since pioneers crossed by wagon. It’s bordered by the Snake River, working ranches, the remote Eagle Cap Wilderness and the wide open spaces that Eastern Oregon is known for. There are fields of fauna, as well as clearings, some of which became towns, a few of which are now inhabited only by ghosts.
Crater Lake: From high atop the rim of Crater Lake, you can see what a wonder the world really is. A hike down to the water reveals new wonders. The water is so blue, so deep, it’s no surprise it’s the deepest lake in America, and one of the deepest on earth.
Have you visited any of these seven wonders? We’d love to hear all about it, share in some insider tips, and see your photos! You can share with us here, or post to our Facebook page.
photo found on kevinandamanda.com