There are many splendid places to see in Oregon where you can let your spirit for outdoor adventure soar. The biggest challenge may be finding enough time to discover them all.

There are seven statewide destinations that are 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. “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.  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.

“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. He added that even more ‘special’ is that Smith Rock was the only state park to be selected as one of the 7 Wonders of Oregon. “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 for you from Travel Oregon 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 Wonders offer more than stunning scenery; there’s great adventure. At Mount Hood you can join observers who count and then band raptors atop Bonney Butte.

Finally, there’s 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. It’s so easy that anyone can try digging supper from the sea.

Justin Yax of the Central Oregon Visitors Association said that the 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 is adventure waiting at each turn of a backroad or byway in Oregon and people need to slow down to enjoy it – 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, in 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.”

Make sure when you travel to the Wonders that you tag your photos #traveloregon on Instagram, and they may be featured in the 7 Wonders of Oregon gallery on the Travel Oregon website.

About the Author: Grant McOmie

Grant McOmie is a Pacific Northwest broadcast journalist, teacher and author who writes and produces stories and special programs about the people, places, outdoor activities and environmental issues of the Pacific Northwest. A fifth generation Oregon native, Grant’s roots run deepest in the central Oregon region near Prineville and Redmond where his family continues to live.

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In this Grant’s Getaway

These maps and directions are for planning purposes only. You may find that construction projects, traffic, or other events may cause road conditions to differ from the map results. For travel options, weather and road conditions, visit tripcheck.com, call 511 (in Oregon only), 800.977.6368 or 503.588.2941.

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