Oregon is a vast state with plenty of natural and historical landmarks worthy of a postcard. You could squeeze several smaller states inside Oregon and a bucket load of landmarks too. Oregon’s natural landmarks include stunning gorges, flowing waterfalls, lofty peaks, caves, canyons and eye-catching rock formations.
Besides natural landmarks, Oregon has several well-known historic monuments in its vibrant cities and towns. Portland is the state’s largest city and many defining sights, from rose gardens to art museums. Eugene, Newport, and Salem are three other cities in Oregon with plenty of landmarks to grab your attention. So, check out these 21 stunning landmarks in Oregon.
- 21 Oregon Landmarks
- Famous Landmarks In Oregon
- Natural Landmarks in Oregon
- Historical Landmarks in Oregon
- Salem Landmarks
- Portland Landmarks
21 Oregon Landmarks
Famous Landmarks In Oregon
1- Crown Point
In the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Crown Point is one of Oregon’s famous landmarks.
At one point, the Columbia River was just a massive waterway, but now it has scenic views and is a drawcard for adventure seekers.
Congress established the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area on October 15th, 1986.
Activities include jumping off the 55ft Salmon & Steelhead Ledge Cliff, exploring the Empire Rock Preserve and hiking to Deep Creek Waterfall.
The Columbia River Gorge started to develop during the Miocene epoch (roughly 17 to 12 million years ago) and continued to do so during the Pleistocene period (2 million to 700,000 years ago).
Crown Point is a summit with spectacular views, and it’s one of those places that will make you feel like you’re on top of the world.
Columbia River Gorge begins just 30 miles (48 kilometres) east of Portland and has breathtaking vistas, trails, and more than 90 waterfalls.
2- Multnomah Falls
Part of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Multnomah Falls is one of Oregon’s most visited tourist attractions.
The falls is taller than Niagara Falls and consist of two tiers.
Multnomah Falls is a string of six individual waterfalls that cascade over a total height between 620 to 680 feet (190 to 207 meters).
The upper tier has an average flow rate during peak season that exceeds 600 cubic feet per second (17 000 litres) as it tumbles down steps carved into volcanic basalt rock.
The lower tier flows at around 300 cubic feet per second (8000 litres).
Visitors can glimpse the top of the falls from the highway, but the best view is from the falls viewing area, where you can see both tiers.
A visitor’s centre at the Multnomah Falls Lodge was built in 1925 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
3- Smith Rock State Park
Smith Rock State Park has towering rock spires that are breathtaking to see.
If you enjoy hiking, mountain climbing, camping, biking, running, or admiring nature and wildlife, this 641-acre state park has a lot to offer.
The park has over 1800 rock climbing routes and themed walls, such as the Prophet Wall and Testament Slab in the Christian Brothers area.
The Monkey Face rock spire is 350 feet high and is one of Oregon’s most famous landmarks.
Smith Rock State Park is near Terrebonne, Oregon.
4- Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake is 1,943 feet (592 meters), making it the deepest Lake in North America and the ninth-deepest lake in the world.
It’s located in Crater Lake National Park, the only U.S. National Park in Oregon and is famous for its clear deep blue water.
Crater Lake is a caldera, which is a depression formed as the result of a volcanic eruption.
The lake is located on Mount Mazama and began to form in 5700BC.
Over time and many eruptions later, snowmelt and rain built up in the caldera to form the lake.
Interesting features of the Lake are Wizard Island, a 1 square mile cinder cone that just out of the water 763 ft, and the Phantom Ship, an island made up of 400,000-year-old andesite rock spires.
The national park was created to preserve this natural wonder of the lake, which appeared on a U.S. stamp as part of a series called “The Beautiful United States.”
This 400-square mile park sits at over 6000 ft elevation and has more than 25 miles worth of hiking trails.
Crater Lake National Park is in southern Oregon’s Cascade Mountains 90 miles south of Bend.
5- Haystack Rock
Haystack Rock is an instantly recognisable famous landmark of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest.
You can discover tidepools and marine animals around this 235-foot (72 m) basalt rock at low tide.
From spring to mid-summer, Haystack Rock is home to various bird species, including Tufted Puffins.
Haystack Rock is in the Tolovana Beach State Recreation Area and is part of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge.
Haystack Rock is mainly made of basalt and formed by lava flows between 10 to 17 million years ago.
Haystack Rock is at Cannon Beach in Oregon.
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Natural Landmarks in Oregon
6- Mount Hood
In Oregon, the Cascade Volcanic Arc contains a stratovolcano called Mount Hood.
Mount Hood is not only Oregon’s highest peak, but it is also one of the nation’s tallest mountains and home to North America’s only year-round lift-served skiing (Timberline ski area).
Palmer Glacier, which is partially inside the Timberline Lodge ski area, is the most visited of Mount Hood’s 12 named glaciers.
About 80% of Mount Hood’s glaciers are higher than 7,000 feet (2,100 m).
Mount Hood, snow-capped and serene, is a dormant volcano encircled by a vast national forest.
It’s ideal for winter sports, hiking, and other outdoor activities.
Mount Hood is 11,239 feet (3425m) and stands guard over the spectacular Columbia River Gorge.
7- Marble Halls of Oregon
Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve is a federally protected area in southwestern Oregon’s Siskiyou Mountains.
The marble cave is not far from the border of California and has a warren of 3.5 miles (5.6 km) underground passages and 500 steps connecting a series of chambers across four levels.
Groundwater melted the underlying marble to form the cave over time.
It features many stunning stalagmites, stalactites, flowstones, and other unique formations.
There are old-growth Douglas fir and cedar forests at higher elevations and oak, pine, and madrone forests at lower elevations on the surface above.
Flying squirrels and the Pacific giant salamander are among the diverse wildlife species you’ll find here.
Oregon Caves National Monument is at 1900 Caves Highway, Cave Junction.
8- Devils Punchbowl
Devil’s Punchbowl is an impressive natural landmark in Oregon’s Devils Punch Bowl State Natural Area.
The landmark is cut out of a rocky headland and exposed to the Pacific Ocean on the central Oregon coast, where waves crash, churn, swirl, and foam.
Two caves carved by the sea are believed to have collided, forming the pool.
In season, whales migrate past the park, which projects into the Pacific and offers panoramic views of the ocean and excellent whale watching.
Devils Punchbowl is at Devils Punchbowl State Natural Area, Otter Rock, Oregon.
9- Lost Lake
Lost Lake is a seasonal alpine lake near the Santiam Pass Highway in Oregon with a unique feature: a drain-like hole (think of it as a sink with a partially blocked drain).
It fills up when you turn the tap on full strength.
Over the summer, when the water source runs out, the water flows into an underground river.
The water continues to flow down the drain if you turn the tap down low enough.
The Lost Lake fills up during the rainy winter months when stream flows are high.
In summer, as the runoff and streamflow decrease, the volume of water entering the hole is less than the hole’s ability to drain the water.
As a result, the Lake sinks.
The Lost Lake is in Mount Hood National Forest, Sandy, Oregon.
10- Mt Bachelor
Mt Bachelor is part of Central Oregon’s Cascade Range and a haven for outdoor enthusiasts.
With over 4,300 acres (1740 ha) of terrain accessible by 12 ski lifts, Mt Bachelor is the USA’s sixth largest ski resort and has 101 runs.
The mountain is famous for its diverse terrain and light, dry snow.
Mt Bachelor is a late Pleistocene/Holocene basaltic-andesite stratovolcano that is inactive but could be extinct.
It last erupted in 5800BC.
Its ski area has been in operation since 1958 and is also the second-largest ski resort on a single mountain behind Vail.
The Mount Bachelor Observatory sits at the summit.
Besides skiing and snowboarding, other activities are dog sledding, tubing and snowshoeing.
Mt Bachelor is at Mt. Bachelor 13000 SW Century Dr, Bend, Oregon.
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11- The Wallowas
The Wallowa Mountains are Oregon’s Alps and home to the state’s highest peaks outside of the Cascades.
The Wallowa range is a stunning landscape of mountains, rivers and ranchland.
It has 17 mountains taller than 9,000 feet and the two highest peaks are Sacajawea Peak (9,843.7 feet/3,000 m) and the Matterhorn.
From an alpine summit in the Wallowas, there’s a stunning view of the high desert of Indian country in one direction and Hells Canyon in another.
The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest is a beautiful place to visit and stretches across 2.4 million acres, with elevations ranging from 9,845 feet (3 km) at the Eagle Cap Wilderness to 875 feet (266m) in the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area.
It’s a nirvana for mountain climbers but you don’t have to be seriously into hiking to enjoy the views.
Take the aerial gondola, the Wallowa Lake Tramway up to Mount Howard from the floor of the Wallowa Valley.
The Wallowa Lake Tramway is at 59919 Wallowa Lake Hwy, Joseph, Oregon.
12- Hell’s Canyon
Hells Canyon is North America’s deepest canyon and at 8,043 feet (2,452 meters) deep, it’s about 2000 feet deeper than the Grand Canyon.
The canyon was carved by the Snake River and the stunning gorge has dramatic changes in terrain, vegetation and elevation.
This plunging gorge straddles Oregon and Idaho, separating Oregon’s Wallowas and Idaho’s Seven Devils.
Activities include whitewater rating, hiking, horseback riding and wildlife spotting.
There are prehistoric artifacts hidden within the canyon and early miners and settlers left a legacy behind.
150 million years ago, Hells Canyon’s terrain joined with North America because of a tectonic plate movement.
The canyon was formed by erosion and the uplifting of the earth’s core through successive lava flows that created the Seven Devils and Eagle Cap Mountains.
Hells Canyon is part of the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area near Oxbow, Oregon.
13- Painted Hills
John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in Wheeler County is home to the Painted Hills, a stunning geological landmark of Oregon.
The hills are coloured in vibrant orange, rust, sand, tan, black and red that tell a story of climate change throughout its history.
These 35 million-year-old hills are the result of changes in climate patterns and volcanic eruptions, where layers of ash, soil, minerals and plants have formed these hills.
The rock contains leaf fossils that are 30 to 39 million years old and animal fossils that date back to between 27 to 30 million years ago.
It’s a wonderful place to go hiking and there are five trails with scenic views.
The Painted Hills is northwest of Mitchell, Oregon.
14- Sand Dunes of Oregon
The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is has a stark beauty with wind-sculpted dunes that soar 500 feet (152 m) above the ocean.
It’s one of the world’s largest expanses of temperate coastal sand dunes and has desert-like landscapes with lakes, rivers, ocean and forest.
This varied ecosystem of plants and animals is another feature of Oregon’s dunes and in recognition of its unique values, Congress named this 31,500-acre section of the Siuslaw National Forest as a National Recreation Area in 1972.
Popular activities are sandboarding, camping and hiking.
The dunes are a habitat for snowy plovers and there are restrictions to protect their habitat.
The area is to the south of Florence and stretches along the Pacific Coast for about 40 miles to Coos Bay.
The Oregon Dunes Visitor Center is the midpoint of the dunes and is at 855 Highway 101, Reedsport, Oregon.
15- Saddle Mountain
The hiking trails, wildflowers and stunning scenery of Saddle Mountain State Natural Area are well-known.
The area is a drawcard for nature lovers because of its diverse and abundant lichens, flowers and mosses.
The Columbia River, the Pacific Ocean and the Cascade Mountains is an inspiring view from the summit on a clear day.
Saddle Mountain’s modest amenities include a small seasonal campground and a day-use picnic area.
On a clear day, the panoramic view of the Columbia River as it meets the sea, the stretch of Pacific shoreline and the Cascade Mountains straddling Oregon and Washington is inspiring.
Saddle Mountain State Natural Area is on Saddle Mountain Road off US 26, 14 miles east of Cannon Beach.
Historical Landmarks in Oregon
16- Astoria Column
The Astoria Column is a steel and concrete column built in 1926 and one of 12 historical markers between St. Paul in Minnesota and Astoria in Oregon.
During the early 1900s, these markers were erected as a project of the Great Northern Railway.
The column is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has a spiral staircase to access an observation deck with views of Young’s Bay, the coastal range, Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean.
The 125-foot (38 m)-high column has a hand-painted spiral frieze that is stunning when illuminated at night.
The artwork tells the story of the development of the region from the dawn of time to the arrival of the railway in 1893.
The Astoria Column is at 1 Coxcomb Dr, Astoria, Oregon.
17- Willamette Heritage Center at The Mill
Oregon’s capital, Salem, is a historic city in the Willamette Valley and packed with historic sights.
The focus of the Willamette Heritage Center is the 19th-century Thomas Kay Woolen Mill, which is a charming red timber structure.
Textile mills are an important part of Oregon’s history and during the mid-1800s, the state had many woollen mills.
The mills were the hub of the economy and provided jobs for workers and a market for sheep farmers to sell their wool.
Thomas Kay Woolen Mill was an important mill that employed one-fifth of Salem’s non-farming population.
The spread of 14 historic buildings contains interpretive exhibits that provide insights into the industrialisation of the Willamette Valley during the late 1800s.
There are also retail shops, artists studios and art galleries. You can book in for an educational workshop.
Willamette Heritage Center is at 1313 Mill Street Southeast, Salem, Oregon.
18- Oregon State Capitol Building
One of the most unusual capitol buildings in the United States is the Oregon State Capitol Building.
Did you know that the new structure is the third in Salem to house the state government?
Salem’s tumultuous history (the capital was moved from to Salem from Oregon City then to Corvallis and back again) has imbued the city with character.
In 1855 and 1935, two previous structures were totally destroyed by fire, while the current building was built between 1936 and 1938.
The Capitol building is open to visitors and you can either join a guided tour or go on a self-guided one.
Oregon State Capitol Building is at 900 Court St NE, Salem, Oregon.
19- Portland’s The Grotto
The Grotto is a 62-acre (25ha) Catholic sanctuary in Portland that holds outdoor services in its stunning gardens or the Grotto Plaza facing the Grotto Cave, which is carved in a basalt cliff.
A replica of Michelangelo’s marble statue of Mary cradling Jesus is a central attraction in the cave.
The visitor’s complex houses an art gallery, gift shop and the Chapel of Mary, which has a glass wall with a stunning vista of Columbia River Valley and the Cascade Mountains.
Its beautiful gardens are a peaceful escape, with fir trees, colourful rhododendrons and carved sculptures.
It’s a tranquil place that attracts over 350,000 visitors a year.
The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother is at 8840 NE Skidmore St, Portland, Oregon.
20- Pittock Mansion
Pittock Mansion is a 1914 French Renaissance-style château in Portland that tells the story of Portland’s evolution from a pioneer town to a developed industrialised city.
The mansion and estate were bought by the city and opened to the public as a historic house museum after being saved from demolition in 1964.
Once the home of London-born publisher of The Oregonian newspaper, Herny Pittock, the mansion is now a community landmark of Portland.
With marble floors, eucalyptus railings, bronze grillwork, Tiffany glazes and an eye-catching central staircase, the mansion is a legacy of yesteryear.
There’s a formal Edwardian dining room, a Turkish smoking room and a Jacobethan library.
Pittock Mansion is at 3229 NW Pittock Dr, Portland, Oregon.
21- City Hall of Portland
Established in 1895, Portland’s Italian Renaissance-style City Hall was one of the first major structures in the Pacific Northwest to have centralised heating, electric wiring and public elevators.
The sprawling building sits across an entire city block and has lovely treed grounds with rose and vegetable gardens.
Portland City Hall is at 1221 SW 4th Avenue, Portland, Oregon.
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