With the Cascade Mountains running like a wall that parallels the rugged Pacific coastline, Oregon makes it easy to hop between the beach and the mountains. The entire state is essentially one big recreation area, with some of America’s prettiest hiking trails and thought-provoking beaches where surfing and sea-kayaking are possible.
Drive over the Cascades past the outdoor mecca of Bend and the scenery turns to high desert and rugged canyons. Here, the rock climbing at sites like Smith Rock and the rafting in Hells Canyon are at the top of their game. The mighty Columbia River cuts through the north of the state, offering fishing, boating, and insane wind surfing at Hood River. If you need a gentler holiday, Oregon’s wineries are among the best in North America and its craft brewing scene is considered a source of beer genius.
Oregon is well-known as one of America’s top states for biking. Portland is a biker’s dream city, while road cyclists can explore miles of country roads in the wine valleys of Willamette and Yamhill. Mountain biking gets plenty of action as well, with towns like Bend a favored spot for two-wheel enthusiasts. Let a professional guide like Oregon Adventures or Cog Wild Mountain Bike Tours take you on the ride of your life.
The hiking throughout Oregon is simply magical. From the legendary Pacific Crest Trail that runs along the spine of the volcanic Cascades to the Oregon Coast Trail that provides dozens of hiking paths on its sublime coast there is no end to the hiking options. So vast are the national forests in Oregon that there are professional guides like Oregon Peak Adventures who can take you backpacking in remote wilderness or Timberline Mountain Guides for summiting the great peaks like Mount Hood or the Sisters.
There is a lot of water in Oregon, especially on the western side of the Cascades. Kayaking both on sea and river is a major sport in the state. The coast has plenty of protected bays ideal for paddling, while the rivers that roll off the Cascades like the Deschutes, Rogue, and Clackamas are perfect for both whitewater and mellow floating. Guides are easy to find in every town, including Ouzel Outfitters and Rogue Wilderness Adventures.
Between December and May, gray whales that can grow 45 feet long migrate along the coast of Oregon. Whale watching is a great way to experience the coastal scenery at hot spots like Depoe Bay and Cape Sebastian. Companies like Tradewinds Charters at Depoe Bay have a 98 percent sighting rate on their outings.
The climate of Oregon is ideal for growing grapes, and its winery scene is one of the best in America. Taking a leisurely wine tour is a great way to sample the local products and enjoy the incredible scenery of areas like Yamhill County and the Willamette Valley. You can easily manage your own driving tour with a car, but there are firms such as Oregon Wine Tours and Great Escape Winery Tours that handle all the logistics while you get to imbibe and soak up the scenery.