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Five Must-Do Magical National Natural Wonders in Oregon

1. Crater Lake National Park. Located in the Cascade Mountains of southern Oregon, this park is a must-see on every traveler's list, and one of the Seven Wonders of Oregon. The iconic lake, formed almost 8,000 years ago by the collapse of the then-towering (12,000 feet) volcanic Mount Mazama during a violent eruption, is widely visited and photographed. Visitors can walk around the rim, viewing the deep, pristine, and blue lake -- the deepest lake in the U.S., and one of the deepest in the world -- while admiring Wizard Island and Phantom Ship islands, as well as the sheer surrounding cliffs. The lake, with a depth of 1,943 feet, is fed entirely by rain and snow. The lake comprises only about 10 percent of the park; there are also hiking trails through old-growth forests, from towering Ponderosa Pines to ancient Whitebark Pines. Because of the high elevation of the park (7,100 feet at Rim Village), the best time to visit the park is July through September, though the park is open year-round. You'll find two visitor centers: The Steel Information Center is south of Rim Drive, next to the park's headquarters; the Rim Village Visitor Center can be found on Rim Drive. Learn more at: Crater Lake National Park.

2. Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. Located in eastern Oregon, in the Wallowas (another of the Seven Wonders of Oregon), visitors will find more than 650,000 acres of amazing beauty, including the deepest river gorge in North America, spectacular mountain peaks, and dramatic changes in elevation, terrain, climate, and vegetation. According to the book, Hells Canyon, the canyon starts about 90 miles south of Lewiston, Idaho, and extends 40 miles to near Oxbow, Oregon. The Snake River, a national wild and scenic river that got its name from European explorers misinterpreting the sign made by native Shoshone peoples, offers many recreational and photographic opportunities. Surrounding Hells Canyon is the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest -- some 2.3 million acres of varied landscape, including the Blue and Wallowa Mountains, with changes in elevation from 875 feet at Hells Canyon National Recreation Area to 9,845 feet at Eagle Cap Wilderness Area (360,000 acres of the Wallowa Mountains). Learn more at: A TARGET=_NEW HREF="https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/wallowa-whitman/recreation/?cid=stelprdb5238987">Hells Canyon Recreation Area 3. Mount Hood National Forest. Located in northwestern Oregon, a short distance east of Portland, this national forest encompasses more than 1 million acres, and extends south from the Columbia River Gorge across more than 60 miles of forested mountains, lakes, and streams to Olallie Scenic Area, a high-lake basin under the slopes of Mount Jefferson. The national forest is home to Mount Hood (also one of one of the Seven Wonders of Oregon), the highest point in the state, and the fourth largest in the Cascade Range. Mount Hood is a potential active stratovolcano that sits about 11,000+ feet in elevation and that is home to 12 named glaciers and snowfields. Alpine lakes surround Mount Hood, and forests and valleys fill with wildflowers in the spring, berries in the summer, and apples and pears in the fall. A visit is not complete without a stop to the historic Timberline Lodge, a WPA (the Depression-era Works Progress Administration) project built between 1936 and 1938, constructed entirely from stone and wood from the surrounding forest -- and used as the exterior for the movie, The Shining. Learn more at: A TARGET=_NEW HREF="https://www.fs.usda.gov/mthood">Mount Hood National Forest.

4. Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve. Located in southwestern Oregon in the northern Siskiyou Mountains, visitors can expect to find stalactites and stalagmites, Pleistocene fossils, as well as enjoyable hikes through forest and lakes. The caves formed as rainwater from the ancient forests above dissolved the marble below, creating the "Marbles Halls of Oregon." Start your visit at one of the two visitor centers: The Oregon Caves national Monument and Preserve Visitor Center (trail juncture for Cliff Nature Trail and Big Tree Trail, which will take you to the thickest (13 feet) Douglas Fir known in Oregon)) or the Illinois Valley Visitor Center in Cave Junction. While there, you might consider a lunch stop at The Chateau, which was built in 1934 and spans a small gorge; it is one of the National Park's Great Lodges and a National Historic Landmark. Visit Oregon Caves spring through fall -- and bring warm clothing if you plan to go into the caves, where the temperature stays in the 40s. Side trips can include the Klamath and Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forests to the south and west, respectively. Learn more at: A TARGET=_NEW HREF="

https://www.nps.gov/orca/">Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve. 5. Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. Covering some 40 miles on the western coast of Oregon, along the Umpqua River, just southwest of Eugene, and part of the Siuslaw national Forest, visitors will find an exceptional area of shifting, windswept sand that is the largest expanse of coastal sand dunes in North America -- the result of millions of years of wind and rain erosion, with sand dunes towering up to 500 feet about sea level. While famous for its off-road vehicle opportunities, there are also numerous other activities, including hiking trails that meander through coastal forests, open dunes, and marsh-like deflation plains. Birding, camping, and picnicking are also big draws. The beach areas are regulated by the state park system, with the Honeyman State Park, just to the north, as a must-stop; as the second largest Oregon state park campground, it offers more than 350 camping sites, and is home to two natural freshwater lakes, Cleawox (for swimming) and Woahink (for boating), as well as hiking trails. Learn more at: A TARGET=_NEW HREF="https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/siuslaw/recarea/?recid=42465">Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.

To see a list of all the national natural parks, monuments, and forests in Oregon, go to our sister site, EmpoweringParks.com: Oregon Natural Park Wonders.

EmpoweringSites.com CEO Dr. Randall Hansen Dr. Randall S. Hansen is an educator, author, and blogger, as well as founder and CEO of EmpoweringSites.com, a network of empowering and transformative Websites, including EmpoweringAdvice.com. Dr. Hansen has been helping empower people to achieving success his entire adult life. He is also founder of EnhanceMyVocabulary.com, MyCollegeSuccessStory.com, and EmpoweringRetreat.com. He is a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. Dr. Hansen is also an educator, teaching business and marketing at the college level for more than 25 years. Learn more by visiting his personal Website, RandallSHansen.com. You can also check out Dr. Hansen on Google+, as well as Dr. Randall Hansen on LinkedIn.


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