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15 Best National and State Parks Near Portland, Oregon

Portland might keep it weird—but the parks surrounding Oregon’s largest city are outlandishly beautiful, with plenty of sites to shock and awe. The Beaver State boasts an unreal number of unique and downlight quirky experiences, from the deepest lake in the country and ancient fossil beds to the caldera of an active volcano and the largest expanse of coastal sand dunes in North America. 

1. Crater Lake National Park

Image by Steve Terrill

Where: Klamath County, Oregon

What to expect: Formed 7,700 years ago when a violent volcanic eruption triggered the collapse of a tall peak, Oregon’s only national park features the deepest lake in the country—nearly 2,000 feet from surface to bottom. Admire its beauty from a scenic rim drive or take a boat tour to Wizard Island, where you can fish for salmon and trout. Visitors may also hike through an enchanting old-growth forest, learn about the park’s history and wildlife from rangers and enjoy skiing, sledding and snowshoeing in the winter. 

Size: 286 square miles

Amenities: Campgrounds, lodge, picnic areas, visitor center, scenic drive, overlooks/pullouts, historic site, ranger-led programs, concessions, boat/trolley/walking tours and hiking trails

Pets permitted: Leashed dogs are permitted in limited areas

Accessibility: The park offers a variety of accessible amenities, including accessible trails and campgrounds.

2. John Day Fossil Bed National Monument

Image by Peter Unger

Where: Wheeler and Grant Counties, Oregon

What to expect: This park’s three separate locations in eastern Oregon boast the best-preserved plant and animal fossils in the state. Start off with the headquarters, Sheep Rock, to get your bearings and check out the fossil museum. Then drive out to Clarno and Painted Hills to do some fossil hunting of your own in the colorful rock formations.

Size: 20 square miles

Amenities: Visitor center, scenic drive, exhibits, ranger-led programs, picnic areas, and hiking and biking trails

Pets permitted: Dogs are welcome, but must be on a leash.

Accessibility: The park offers a variety of accessible amenities, including one accessible trail and picnic areas.

3. Lewis and Clark National Historic Park

Image by National Parks Service

Where: Clatsop County, Oregon

What to expect: The highlight of this historic park is a replica of Fort Clatsop, where Lewis and Clark lived during winter months. After seeing the museum and watching surveying and mapping demonstrations, follow in the footsteps of America’s most famous explorers by hiking to local beaches and canoeing along the Lewis and Clark River.

Size: 5 square miles

Amenities: Visitor center, ranger-led programs, museum, historic site, picnic areas and hiking trails

Pets permitted: Dogs are welcome, but must be on a leash.

Accessibility: The park offers a variety of accessible amenities. Trails are accessible with sport wheelchairs or motor scooters.

4. Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve 

Image by Fdastudillo

Where: Josephine County, Oregon

What to expect: Descend below the Siskiyou Mountains into the “Marble Halls of Oregon,” where time and the slow drip of water have created smooth flowstones, stalactites, and stalagmites. Above ground you can also hike through old-growth forests.

Size: 7 square miles

Amenities: Visitor center, cave tours, ranger-led programs, campgrounds, and hiking trails

Pets permitted: Leashed dogs are permitted in limited areas

Accessibility: The park has limited accessibility

5. Newberry National Volcanic Monument

Image by Sumiko Scott

Where: Deschutes County, Oregon

What to expect: Boasting lava flowers, waterfalls, lakes, peaks, and more than 110 miles of trails, this park has no shortage of things to do—many of which are set within the caldera of an active volcano. Don’t miss Paulina Falls, the Lava Cast Forest Trail, Lava Butte or the Big Obsidian Flow.

Size: 1,200 square miles

Amenities: Campgrounds, visitor center, ranger-led programs, picnic areas, and mountain biking, equestrian and hiking trails

Pets permitted: Leashed dogs are permitted in limited areas

Accessibility: The park offers a variety of accessible amenities, including trails and picnic areas.

6. Valley of the Rogue State Park

Image by Velvetfish

Where: Jackson County, Oregon

What to expect: Made famous by fisherman and novelist Zane Grey, Oregon’s Rogue Valley is a place of rushing rapids and epic salmon runs. Explore the waters by raft and then spend a night camping along the shoreline of the Rogue River.

Size: 0.5 square miles

Amenities: Campgrounds, yurts, boat ramp, amphitheater, picnic areas, and hiking trails

Pets permitted: Dogs are welcome in most areas, but must be on a leash.

Accessibility: The park offers a variety of accessible amenities, including campsites and trails.

7. Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

Image by John Elk

Where: Douglas County, Oregon

What to expect: This area features the largest expanse of coastal sand dunes in North America, some reaching nearly 500 feet high. The 40-mile section of beach between Florence and Coos Bay is a paradise for whale watching, with more than 18,000 gray whales migrating past in December and January and between March and June each year. It’s also a great spot for thrilling sports like dune buggy rides and sandboarding. 

Size: 49 square miles

Amenities: Campgrounds, visitor center, picnic areas, fishing pier, boat ramp, jetty, and hiking, equestrian and mountain biking trails

Pets permitted: Dogs are welcome in most areas, but must be on a leash.

Accessibility: The park offers a variety of accessible amenities, including viewing platforms and trails.

8. Ecola State Park

Image by ildija Kamansky

Where: Clatsop County, Oregon

What to expect: As one of the highlights of the 425-mile Oregon Coast Trail, Ecola State Park offers dramatic, seaside views from Ecola Point and Indian Beach. Visit the historic Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, hike the rocky shores and rainforest-covered cape and keep an eye open for wildlife like elk, whales and bald eagles.

Size: 1.5 square miles

Amenities: Beach access, picnic areas, exhibits and hiking trails

Pets permitted: Dogs are welcome in most areas, but must be on a leash.

Accessibility: The park offers some accessible amenities.

9. Smith Rock State Park

Image by Alex Ratson

Where: Deschutes County, Oregon

What to expect: Famous as the birthplace of modern sports climbing, Smith Rock boasts thousands of challenging routes. Advanced climbers can conquer Monkey Face, while beginners may choose to start at Rope de Dope Block. Those who prefer to stay grounded can still discover switchback trails with stunning views.

Size: 1 square mile

Amenities: Campgrounds, picnic areas, exhibits, viewpoints and hiking trails

Pets permitted: Dogs are welcome in most areas, but must be on a leash.

Accessibility: The park offers a variety of accessible amenities, including picnic areas and viewpoints.

10. Hells Canyon National Recreation Area

Image by Dalton Lebeda/500 px

Where: Wallowa and Baker Counties, Oregon

What to expect: The deepest river gorge in North America, Hells Canyon lacks the crowds of its more famous competition in Arizona. Relish in the silence while hiking along 900 miles of trails, swimming, or enjoying a thrilling whitewater rafting trip along the Snake River—your guide may stop to point out indigenous petroglyph wall art or abandoned mines.

Size: 1,020 square miles

Amenities: Visitor center, interpretative site, picnic areas, boat launch, campgrounds and equestrian and hiking trails

Pets permitted: Dogs are welcome, but must be on a leash.

Accessibility: The park offers some accessible amenities.

11. Silver Falls State Park

Image by Stuart Westmorland

Where: Marion County, Oregon

What to expect: Oregon’s largest state park, the aptly named Silver Falls is packed with glimmering cascades. If you only have time for one hike, choose the 7.2-mile Trail of Ten Falls, which has—you guessed it—10 of the most impressive waterfalls along one route.

Size: 14 square miles

Amenities: Campgrounds, cabins, viewpoints, playground, picnic areas, visitor center and hiking, equestrian and biking trails

Pets permitted: Dogs are welcome in most areas, but must be on a leash.

Accessibility: The park offers a variety of accessible amenities, including campground and picnic areas.

12. Fort Stevens State Park

Image by Aimintang

Where: Clatsop County, Oregon

What to expect: Once the site of a military installation used to guard the mouth of the Columbia River, Fort Stevens State Park is like stepping into history. In addition to the earthen fort, the park has the Pacific Northwest’s most accessible shipwreck, the Peter Iredale, which ran ashore over one hundred years ago. Go beachcombing, swimming or camping in the extensive campground.

Size: 7 square miles

Amenities: Campgrounds, yurts, cabins, picnic areas, disc golf course, boat ramp, bike rentals, 

historic site, kayak tours, visitor center, beach access, playground, and hiking, equestrian and biking trails

Pets permitted: Dogs are welcome in most areas, but must be on a leash.

Accessibility: The park offers a variety of accessible amenities, including campgrounds and fishing areas.

13. Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument

Image by Kevin Schafer

Where: Jackson County, Oregon

What to expect: Made famous by Cheryl Strayed’s best-selling memoir Wild, this off-the-grid treasure features remarkably diverse ecosystems, including wildflower meadows, old-growth conifers and oak savannas. Hike up to Hobart Bluff for panoramic views of the forested Rogue Valley. Kayak or swim at peaceful Hyatt Lake. Trek to the base of Pilot Rock, a 25-million-year-old volcanic plug.

Size: 83 square miles 

Amenities: Campgrounds, picnic areas, boat ramps and hiking and equestrian trails

Pets permitted: Dogs are welcome, but must be on a leash.

Accessibility: The park has limited accessibility

14. The Cove Palisades State Park

Image by Westend61

Where: Jefferson County, Oregon

What to expect: A hot spot for camping and watersports, nature lovers come to the Deschutes and Crooked river canyons, which form part of Lake Billy Chinook, for swimming, boating and paddling. Hit up the marina if you need to rent anything, including water skis.

Size: 7 square miles

Amenities: Campgrounds, cabins, concessions, marina, boat/water skis/houseboat/tube rentals, boat ramps and hiking trails

Pets permitted: Dogs are welcome in most areas, but must be on a leash.

Accessibility: The park offers a variety of accessible amenities, including viewpoints and campgrounds.

15. Oswald West State Park

Image by Fitopardo

Where: Tillamook County, Oregon

What to expect: Sprawling along four miles of thick, temperate rainforest on the coastline, Oswald West State Park might be one of Oregon’s most stunning destinations. Have a picnic on Short Sand Beach, a.k.a. “Shorty’s,” uncover hidden coves among volcanic basalt and go cold water surfing.

Size: 4 square miles

Amenities: Picnic areas, beach access, viewpoints and hiking trails

Pets permitted: Dogs are welcome in most areas, but must be on a leash.

Accessibility: The park has some accessible amenities.

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