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Boardwalk through the Painted Hills in the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in eastern Oregon© Heather M. HoodBoardwalk through the Painted Hills in the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in eastern Oregon
© Heather M. Hood

Mt. Hood dominates Oregon, both figuratively and literally. At 3426 metres (11,239 feet), it's the tallest peak in the state's Cascade range. And since it's just an hour from the largest city, Portland, it's a popular destination for skiers, snowboarders, hikers and photographers. The mountain has four ski areas, including Timberline, the only year-round ski destination in North America. Mt. Hood Meadows, the region's largest ski destination, includes several challenging double black diamond runs.

When Portlanders can't make it to Mt. Hood, they have lots of recreational choices within the boundaries of their green, outdoorsy city. They can go hiking in 2,025-hectare (5,000-acre) Forest Park, explore the slopes of a volcano in Mt. Tabor Park, go kayaking in the Willamette River, or jog or cycle along the Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade. Other attractions in Portland include Powell's (the world's biggest new and used bookstore), the Portland Children's Museum and the International Rose Test Garden.

South of Portland, the Willamette Valley has more than 200 wineries, many of which are open for tastings and tours. The valley college towns of Eugene and Corvallis are lively spots with a somewhat hippie vibe (think lots of cyclists, craft fairs and music).

In the southern part of the state in Crater Lake National Park, you'll find America's deepest lake, as well as secluded camping spots and hiking trails through old-growth forests. And not far from the California border, the city of Ashland is home to both a Shakespeare festival and a chocolate festival.

Mount Adams, Oregon© Brent Bradley - OregonScenics.comMount Adams, Oregon
© Brent Bradley -
Skiers who haven't exhausted themselves in the Cascades can head to sparsely populated eastern Oregon, where ski areas in the Elkhorn Range of the Blue Mountains boast high elevations and excellent powder.

Finally, as well as mountains and valleys, Oregon has almost 650 kilometres (400 miles) of public coastline, much of it studded with state parks and viewpoints. Follow Highway 101 for a memorable drive.

by Laura Byrne Paquet

Stock Photos from 123RF

Stock Photos from 123RF