So Many Things to Do in Oregon, So Little Time!
With Oregon in your travel plans, you’re in for some epic outdoor adventures. With its diverse terrain and rugged outdoor character, Oregon is the perfect destination for all types of outdoor activities.
Like to play in the outdoors? You are sure to find your own unique adventure in this wild and sparsely populated state. This list of the best things to in Oregon is provided by a local who knows best: me!
1. Hiking and biking in Oregon
Bring your boat or kayak. Or put your surfboard, skis, snowboard, or mountain bike on the top of your rig. Now plan an extended vacation in Oregon. The entire state is a paradise for hikers and bikers. This state has many areas that are wide open expanses of nature.
In the southeastern corner of Oregon you’ll find miles of open prairie with more antelope than people. The BLM land is open range. You’re as likely to encounter cattle on the roadway as motorists. Are forests your thing? The western and central zones of Oregon are covered by a blanket of tall Douglas Firs and pine forests. Enjoy them on both sides of the Cascade Mountains. You will find them in the Blue Mountains and the Coast Range, too.
Whether you’re on a bike or on foot, there are byways, hiking trails, and paths, crying out to be explored. For the more adventurous hiker, the Pacific Crest Trail that extends from Canada to Mexico dissects Oregon along the crestline of the Cascade Mountains.
2. Snow play in the mountains
Are you a snowboarder, cross country or downhill skier? Or do you prefer the speed and excitement of a snowmobile? Either way, come enjoy all the snowy mountains and snow parks. From Mt Hood, just 90 minutes east of Portland, to Mount Bachelor west of Bend. And there’s Mount Ashland in Southern Oregon, or Willamette Pass east of Eugene.
Even in places without developed ski parks for downhill adventures, snowmobiles and cross country skiing can be enjoyed across the eastern half of the state. Play from Thanksgiving (or before) until after Easter. Good snowy places include Wallowa State Park, Baker City, Ontario, Sisters, LaPine, Pendleton, John Day and Joseph. Many of these locations have year-round campgrounds and welcome winter visitors.
3. Fishing in Oregon
Oregon has hundreds of crystal clear lakes. Many are only accessible by foot. So put on your hiking boots and take your fly rod. Almost all lakes in Oregon have trophy size trout just waiting to take the bait.
There are rivers with abundant salmon, steelhead and trout. And cold water lakes with a variety of trout, warm water lakes with crappies and blue gill. Oregon has 338 miles of coastline for all types of ocean fishing. Take a charter boat out for salmon and halibut. Or cast your line from a jetty dock. Surf fishing is fun, too.
Try Urban Fishing
You can even fish for salmon and steelhead right in downtown Portland, Salem, or Eugene. Or you could fish for sturgeon on the Columbia River either from the banks near Bonneville Dam or go on a guided charter boat to find these 6+ foot river giants.
Hunting in Oregon is a favorite seasonal outdoor activity and big game from deer and elk to big horn sheep are hunted throughout the state. Bird hunting, both aquatic and grassland fowl, are routinely taken in Oregon.
All hunting and fishing is regulated and appropriate state licenses must be obtained before participating in these activities, but in-state and out-of-state licenses can be purchased at a wide range of locations throughout the state. Game laws are vigorously enforced so be sure you cover all the legal bases and know what is permitted and what is not before either fishing or hunting in Oregon.
4. Wind or kite surfing
One of the best places in the world to windsurf, as I’ve been told by surfers, is the Columbia River, and the epicenter for this sport is near Hood River. This stretch of river is almost always windy and wind surfers as well as kite surfers can be seen skimming over the top of the river waves almost everyday.
If you don’t know how but would like to learn how to wind surf, there are numerous shops and enthusiasts in Hood River that will rent equipment and provide instruction. But the river is not the only place where wind and kite surfers congregate to enjoy their unique sport. Kite surfers can be seen hurdling over the breakers in the surf along the Oregon Coast.
5. Surfing and scuba diving
Traditional surfers also enjoy the Oregon Coast and can be seen along large stretches of coastline from the Columbia River to Brookings just north of California. The water along the Oregon Coast is generally cold enough to require a wet suit but the surf is just right for great surfing. If going underwater is your particular outdoor preference, there are numerous scuba opportunities along the coastline and in the rivers of Oregon.
It is not uncommon to see boats anchored in the bays flying scuba flags to alert others that divers are in the area. Many harvest seafood while diving or explore shipwrecks or just enjoy the abundant wildlife. Scuba shops where you can recharge your tanks, pick up supplies, or get information about local sites of interest, are commonplace in seaside communities.
6. Kayaking, jet skiing, and other water activities
Oregon has ubiquitous water playgrounds and almost all lakes, streams, and rivers are safe for water play. Whether you are whitewater rafting, water skiing, tubing down a slow-moving river or behind a boat, or riding a jet ski, there are ample places to enjoy the water.
Unlike many waterways in other parts of the country, you won’t find signs along the water warning of poisonous snakes or alligators. The water is clear, cold, inviting, and safe. I encourage you to bring your bathing suit and experience swimming in a lake or tubing down a river.
Don’t worry about the equipment—you can rent much of the equipment from tubes to kayaks. Or you can ride on a jet boat on the Rogue River or join a whitewater rafting adventure on the Deschutes River while you are camping near Bend.
7. Other outdoor adventures
Other popular outdoor activities to be enjoyed in Oregon include hang gliding over the Oregon Coast, skydiving in the Willamette Valley, hot air balloons rides in Newberg, and riding off-road dirt bikes or quad on the dunes or over the ubiquitous forest service roads that crisscross the national forests.
If all this energetic activity is just too much for your outdoor style, there are also hundreds of wildlife viewing and birding areas to be enjoyed, and the entire state is a virtual paradise for photographers.
Plan your Oregon camping trip
Of course, there are plenty of public and private campgrounds, RV parks and resorts throughout Oregon that make a great home base while you enjoy all of these activities. Plan your trip with the RV LIFE Pro tools to get RV-safe GPS directions and to find more campgrounds and points of interest along your route.
Peggy Dent is an author, writer, and full-time RVer, traveling around the US and Canada. She’s traveled more than 130,000 miles in a motorhome, over the past 20 years, and is currently writing for the RV industry. You can contact her through her website at www.APenInYourHand.com