How to Visit the 7 Wonders of Oregon

From the rugged Oregon Coast to the dramatic alpine deserts in the East, the 7 Wonders of Oregon are some of the most fascinating landscapes in this corner of the Pacific Northwest. Use this guide to the 7 Wonders of Oregon to help you plan your visit and craft your own road trip to see each of these seven wonders

Mount Hood viewpoint at Lost Lake Oregon

In an effort to inspire locals and newcomers to Oregon alike, the Oregon tourism board, known as Travel Oregon, launched a campaign in 2013, playing off the renowned list “7 Wonders of the World”. Their goal was to encourage travelers to explore and make memories of their own.

The 7 Wonders of Oregon feature the seven most unique and diverse geological landscapes you can experience on a trip to Oregon. In this article, we’ll go over each of the 7 Wonders of Oregon to help you plan your visit. Keep reading to the end where we included a suggested road trip route to hit all 7 wonders in just 2 weeks. 

What are the 7 Wonders of Oregon?

1. Columbia River Gorge

Multnomah Falls Oregon

The Columbia River Gorge, nestled right along the Washington/Oregon border and just east of Portland, is a dramatic river canyon that pours into the Pacific Ocean. The variety of scenic vistas, cascading waterfalls, and scenic hiking trails made this an easy choice for one of the 7 Wonders of Oregon.

Top things to do in the Columbia River Gorge

  • Multnomah Falls: Witness one of the most photographed waterfalls in Oregon. Two massive waterfalls separated by a scenic walking bridge.
  • Oneonta Gorge: Hike through this mini gorge bursting with rich green hues to arrive at the spectacular Oneonta Falls (one of our favorite hikes near Portland!).
  • Columbia River Highway: Drive 20-miles along one of the first scenic highways established in the United States.

How to get there: The Columbia River Gorge is best explored with your own vehicle so that you can go at your own pace.There is no entrance fee, but starting this year from May 24th to September 5th, a timed ticket will be required to access the gorge on the Columbia River Highway.

Psst! Ever heard of the “Blue Pool”? While this natural wonder didn’t make the list, we still think it’s worth visiting! We have a whole guide to visiting the Tamolitch Blue Pool Oregon.

2. Crater Lake

Crater Lake Hikes | Watchman Peak

Crater Lake is the deepest lake in America and the 9th deepest lake in the world coming in at 1,943 feet. Sediments and mineral deposits don’t enter the lake, making it one of the purest and clearest lakes in the world. 

Top things to do in Crater Lake National Park

  • The Watchman Peak Trail: Explore one of the most popular trails in Crater Lake National Park to see views over the entire lake, Wizard Island and Phantom Ship.
  • Cleetwood Cove Trail: This is one of the only Crater lake hikes that has access directly to the lake. This trail is perfect for those hot summer afternoons since you can jump into the water!
  • Crater Lake Scenic Rim Drive: Drive this 33-mile scenic route and discover lake views, panoramic vistas, forests, and meadows. Stop at any of the 30 overlooks to get the best viewpoints of Crater Lake.

How to get there: Crater Lake National Park is 2.5 hours south of Bend and, like any National Park, is best visited with your own vehicle. The entrance fee is $30 per vehicle in the summer and $20 during the winter months, or free with your America the Beautiful national park pass.

National Park Pass

3. Mount Hood

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At an incredible elevation of 11,250 feet, Mount Hood is one of the most recognized 7 Wonders of Oregon, the tallest volcano in Oregon, and the tallest mountain in the Cascade Range. 

Top things to do in Mount Hood

  • Go for a hike: There are a ton of epic hikes in the Mount Hood Wilderness, including sections of the PCT on the Timberline Trail and Bald Mountain.
  • Hood River Fruit Loop: Drive this 35-mile self-guided driving route through Hood River County and stop at a variety of fruit orchards such as pears, cherries, and apple orchards. This is also an excellent area to explore many incredible Hood River Wineries.

How to get there: The best way to get to Mount Hood is with your own vehicle. Pick up a day pass for $5 or use your National Parks Pass to get in if you already own one.

4. Painted Hills

Painted Hills Oregon | Overlook Trail

The Painted Hills, also known as the Oregon Painted Desert, are brightly colored hills in central Oregon that were chosen as one of the 7 Wonders of Oregon for its preservation records of climate changes over the last 40-million years. It’s the most popular section of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.

Top things to do in Painted Hills

  • Painted Cove Trail: Walk through tall red hills on a wooden boardwalk to a colorful view.
  • Painted Hills Overlook Trail: Hike to various viewpoints to see one of the best views overlooking the colorful hills. 

How to get there: The Painted Hills are 86-miles northeast of Bend and are free to explore year round. Pick up a rental car or bring your own car to explore this gem.

5. Oregon Coast

Things to do in Cannon Beach | Go Wander Wild

The famous Oregon Coast stretches nearly 400-miles on the Western edge of Oregon and the Pacific Ocean. Discover the largest sand dunes in the United States, charming fishing towns, and miles of sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean. An Oregon Coast road trip is one of the best things to do in all of Oregon!

Top things to do on the Oregon Coast

  • Cannon Beach: This is one of the most famous places in Oregon for its picturesque rock formations and panoramic views. Explore the tide pools and Haystack rock on the beach, then head in town to explore the best things to do in Cannon Beach.
  • Cape Perpetua Scenic Area: One of the most scenic places on the coast and one of the best things to do in nearby Yachats.
  • Explore Thor’s Well, Devil’s Churn, and Cook’s Chasm.
  • Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor: This is one of the most photographed places in Oregon for its stunning hiking trails, unique rock formations, and scenic pull offs.

How to get there: The best way to experience the Oregon Coast is with your own vehicle on an Oregon Coast road trip. Follow the Pacific Coast Highway down from Astoria to the Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor.

Psst! Have you heard of Thor’s Well? This unique natural wonder is one of the most interesting stops along Oregon’s central coast. We have a whole guide to visiting Thor’s Well Oregon.

6. Smith Rock

Hikes near Bend Oregon | Misery Ridge Monkey Face in Smith Rock State Park

Coined as the “birthplace of American sport climbing” Smith Rock State Park showcases the high desert and the Crooked River carving out dramatic rock spires created from volcanic ash over 30-million years ago. 

We have an entire guide to visiting Smith Rock State Park on our sister site, but in case you’re curious, here are some of the highlights…

Top things to do on Smith Rock

  • Misery Ridge Trail: Discover the best views over the Crooked River that winds through the park and see remnants of Oregon’s largest volcanic eruption on this popular Oregon hike.
  • Climbing: Smith Rock is a very popular destination for climbers. Many flock to the infamous Monkey Face to attempt one of the toughest rock climbs in the world.

How to get there: Smith Rock is only 25-miles north of Bend and is best explored in your own vehicle or by picking up your own rental in Bend. Day passes are only $5 for a full day of exploring. 

7. The Wallowa Mountains

Wallowas Mountains (Travel Oregon)
Image by Travel Oregon

The fairly undiscovered Wallowas Mountains are a gem to backpackers, cross-country skiers, and campers. It holds over half of Oregon’s peaks that rise over 9,000 feet and is dotted with glittering alpine lakes and dense pine forests. 

Top things to do in the Wallowas

  • Maxwell Lake: Hike to a stunning alpine lake through the Eagle Cap Wilderness’s dense pine forests.
  • Wallowa Lake: Explore this lake on foot, on a scenic drive, or on a ferry ride while enjoying the jagged mountain backdrop.

How to get there: The Wallowa Mountains are 340-miles northeast of Bend or 330-miles east of Portland. It’s best explored with your own vehicle to enjoy an Eastern Oregon road trip.

7 Wonders of Oregon road trip

Astoria Oregon
Overlooking Astoria on the Oregon Coast

For the most epic adventure, you can hit all the wonders in a 2-week, 7 Wonders of Oregon road trip! Beginning in Portland, explore some of the best things to do in the city, pick up your rental car and begin your trip heading down the Oregon Coast, clockwise. If you have more time, consider adding some of these other epic Oregon road trip stops to your list.

DAYS 1-4: Portland / Oregon Coast

You could easily spend weeks exploring the Oregon Coast, but give this wonder of Oregon 4 days to enjoy. Some of the most beautiful highlights include Cannon Beach, Ecola State Park, Yachats, Bandon, and the Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor. 

Some of the best places to stay on the Oregon Coast are SCP Hotel Depoe Bay, the Arch Cape Inn, Tu Tu’ Tun Lodge, and the Barefoot Bungalow.

DAY 5: Crater Lake

After your epic Oregon Coast mini road trip, head inland to Crater Lake National Park for a day to see this beautiful blue geological wonder. Spend the night in nearby Bend at the quirky yes iconic McMenamins Old St. Francis School Hotel.

DAY 6: Smith Rock State Park

Next, head north through Bend to uncover the volcanic landscapes at Smith Rock State Park for one day. Spend the night back in Bend at your accommodation to enjoy exploring more of this Oregon town. 

Psst! If you have more time, clock a few more days in Bend exploring all the fun things to do there

Downtown Bend, Oregon

DAY 7: Painted Hills

About an hour and a half’s drive northeast of Bend, you can take in the brightly colored layers of earth at the Painted Hills as part of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. Spend the day hiking through the otherworldly landscapes and maybe check out the other two units in the park. 

After a colorful adventure, head to the town of Joseph near the Wallowa Mountains to stay at the Ottertail Cabin right on the edge of Wallowa Lake.

DAY 8/9: Wallowa Mountains

Spend two days exploring the jagged peaks and beautiful alpine lakes in the Wallowa Mountain Range.

DAY 10/11: Mount Hood

For the remainder of this 7 Wonders of Oregon road trip, head back west towards Portland and stop at the Mount Hood National Forest for two days. Base yourself at the Hawk’s Perch in Hood River to explore this wonder and the Columbia River Gorge the next day.

DAY 12/13: Columbia River Gorge

Before heading back to Portland to end your road trip, pay a visit to the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area for two days to see one of the most coveted Oregon waterfalls and get some hiking in. 

DAY 14: Portland

Spend your final day enjoying all of the fun things to do in Portland, like microbreweries, food tours, incredible donuts, and other amazing spots in the “weirdest city in the United States”. 

We recommend staying in the Pink House off Mississippi Avenue, a quick tiny house with the best location in all of Portland!

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7 Wonders of Oregon | Go Wander Wild
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We want to hear from you!

Have you visited any of the 7 wonders of Oregon? What was your experience like? Do you have more questions about planning a trip there? Comment below and let us know!

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