There are so many splendid places in Oregon where you can let your spirit for outdoor adventure soar. Often, the biggest challenge is finding enough time to discover them all.
Recently, seven statewide destinations were identified as easy to reach for newcomers and longtime residents alike. They are places where you can find adventure and make some fabulous memories of your own.
Ever wonder what makes Oregon so special? Just ask an artist – like Jennifer Moore.
Moore sees great drama in the details of Smith Rock State Park and she captures it on her canvas with one brush stroke at a time.
“For me – at this spot in Central Oregon - it’s about the shadows, the lights and the darks,” noted the longtime artist who is lucky enough to visit regularly the rugged and dramatic Smith Rock State Park.
“This morning, the rocks had more purple and darker tones and now it’s getting greener as the sun takes over. I have been all over the state and to have this fascinating group of rocks right in my own backyard - plus – the Crooked River – there’s just nothing like it.”
Smith Rock State Park is an iconic, natural destination that draws half a million visitors each year.
And yet, its 650 acres offer plenty of elbow room for folks to stretch out and play, according to Scott Brown, the Park Manager.
Brown is proud of the fact that people and the wildlife get along just fine across the park land.
“Oh yes, we were flattered – but then this place has always been special – for hikers, wildlife watchers, climbers and the like. It is loved by many people.”
The 7 Wonders of Oregon is an invitation from Travel Oregon for you to explore the many corners of the state.
Like Crater Lake – where a boat ride takes you into ancient geologic history.
Or The Painted Hills - where “Painted Cove Trail” offers a boardwalk across colorful ash fall dating back 33 million years.
The Wallowa Mountains – where a tram ride to the top of Mt Howard allows you to stand shoulder to shoulder with a mountain range that will make you feel small.
And the Columbia River Gorge for a view that's never twice the same atop Rowena Crest and the tom McCall Preserve --- with camera in hand you can wander down a trail at a timeless place to see springtime splendor.
The new “7 Wonders” offers more than stunning scenery but great adventures too --- at Mount Hood you can join observers who count and then band raptors atop Bonney Butte.
Finally - the Oregon Coast and one of my favorite outdoor activities where all you need is a paddle and a life vest and a spirit of adventure and it’s so easy anyone can try digging supper from the sea.
Justin Yax of the Central Oregon Visitors Association said that the new “7 Wonders of Oregon” is a checklist of places you must see and experience – especially if you call Oregon your home:
“Each of the wonders is unique and majestic in its own right …they are rich with history, scenery and adventure that everyone should discover on their own. We try to make those discoveries easier through the new 7 Wonders experience.”
Meanwhile, back at Smith Rock, Jennifer Moore agreed that there are adventures waiting at each turn of a backroad or byway in Oregon and people need to slow down to enjoy them.
She also insisted that there is more to the state than meets the eye and the best part is exploring and discovering something new about home – Oregon:
“I think the trick is finding beauty in the places that people don’t expect it because then whatever you’re doing is unexpected.”
And there’s more to the new “7 Wonders of Oregon” that may entice you to get involved via hashtag Travel Oregon – tag your photos of any of the 7 Wonders and you may be featured on the Travel Oregon website.