Top 10 Landmarks in Oregon

Last updated on May 25th, 2021 at 08:13 am. Originally published on May 23rd, 2021

What is a Landmark?

Also known as the Beaver State, Oregon has a bit of a quirky reputation — but make no mistake about it, this lush Pacific Northwest landscape is full to the brim with some incredible landmarks of the historical, cultural, and natural varieties. From swaths of seaside sand dunes to settings you’ll recognize from one of your favorite childhood movies, here are some of the top Oregon landmarks not to miss.

What are Some Famous Landmarks in Oregon?

1. Flavel House Museum

2. Multnomah Falls

3. Bonneville Dam Historic District

4. Mount Hood

5. Timberline Lodge

6. Silver Falls State Park

7. Smith Rock State Park

8. Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

9. Crater Lake National Park

10. Oregon Caves National Monument

Oregon Landmarks

Here are our top-10 must-see landmarks for your next journey through Oregon!

1. Flavel House Museum

Flavel House museum in Astoria Oregon

Anyone who’s seen the 1985 smash hit The Goonies will recognize the Flavel House Museum as the place where Mikey’s dad works — but even if you (somehow) haven’t had a chance to watch the movie, this well-preserved Queen Anne is worth a visit. Originally built exactly 100 years before the film was made, in the year 1885, this home was constructed for Captain George Flavel, who was a bar pilot who worked in the Columbia River and one of the area’s first millionaires. The home’s 11,600-square-foot living space takes up an entire city block, and survived the 1922 fire that took out much of the rest of Astoria (which, by the way, has plenty of other Goonies-related sites to visit). These days, the house is kept as a restored and tourable Victorian mansion, and has since 1991 been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Things to do near the Flavel House Museum: Astoria is awash with must-sees, from its stunning waterfront views to the art galleries and eateries along the downtown walking districts. It’s also a stone’s throw from wilderness destinations like Fort Stevens State Park, Ecola State Park and the Del Rey Beach State Recreation Site. Here are some nearby RVshare rentals to consider.

2. Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls cascading

Ask a Portland local for the handful of things they show to every visitor from out of state, and chances are pretty good you’ll hear Multnomah Falls thrown around once or twice. While it’s true that this is one of the most touristy of Oregon’s many, many waterfalls, it’s also easily one of the most beautiful — and one of the most easily accessible, requiring little more than a short walk up from the parking lot along the highway to take in the full scope and beauty of the falls. Those feeling more adventurous can take a short but steep hike to the top to see the falls from above, and serious outdoorsfolk might consider the 15-mile round-trip trek that takes you to the peak of Larch Mountain, towering above it all. No matter which option you choose, you can’t go wrong… and you can treat yourself to a cookie, coffee, or some roasted nuts from the concession stand once you’re done.

Things to do near Multnomah Falls: The Columbia River Gorge is filled with iconic destinations that give tourists and locals alike a bird’s-eye view of this one-of-a-kind valley. Vista House is another popular stop, and Angel’s Rest is another popular hiking option. And, of course, Portland is less than an hour away; here are some nearby campgrounds and RVshare vehicles.

3. Bonneville Dam Historic District

Aerial photo of Bonneville dam and the Columbia River near Cascade Locks, Oregon

Continue further east along the Gorge to arrive at this powerful feat of engineering, which was the first-ever hydroelectric dam with a hydraulic drop sufficient to produce 500,000 kW of hydropower. Built in the 1930s, this dam is actually a system of several structures that work together to harness the considerable power of the Columbia River and provide energy to local communities. Given its importance both historically and presently, it’s no surprise that the Bonneville Dam Historic District was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986, and then named a National Historic Landmark District just a year later.  Once you’re done being fascinated by the dam, spend some time in the sweet town of Bonneville to grab a bite to eat or simply enjoy the view from alongside the river.

Things to do near Bonneville Dam Historic District: If you fancy a trip across state lines (or just an incredibly beautiful viewpoint), head a few miles further east to the Bridge of the Gods and pay the very worthwhile $2 fare to take your car across. You can also park and walk across, free of charge… but do be aware those with a fear of heights might not adore the experience. Here are some local RVshare rentals to consider.

4. Mount Hood

Dramatic colorful sunrise over Mount Hood and foggy Portland Oregon city downtown

With a summit 11,250 feet above sea level, Mount Hood is the tallest peak in the state of Oregon — and one of the most recognizable mountains in the entire world. And although its altitude doesn’t measure up to the 14,000+ peaks that are easy to find a little further southeast in Colorado, the mountain’s prominence is a considerable 7,707 feet, which means it looms over the surrounding valleys and can be seen from over a hundred miles away on a clear day. While getting to the tip-top of the mountain is a venture for serious, experienced mountaineers only, there are a wide range of hikes at a variety of lengths and intensity levels to help you get up close and personal with this gorgeous peak — which is, don’t forget, an active volcano. It hasn’t erupted since the 1780s, but scientists predict it will someday. (Fortunately, it’s pretty unlikely to do so while you’re visiting.)

Things to do near Mount Hood: The way to the mountain from Portland is dotted with cute, stop-and-have-a-bite-in-able cities like Sandy and Government Camp. If you’re planning to hike, we highly recommend preparing yourself with a map and maybe even some local guidance from an outdoor outfitter; goodness knows there are plenty to choose from! Here are some area campgrounds and RVshare rentals.

5. Timberline Lodge

A Lodge near timberline on Mt Hood and trees covered with snow

If Mount Hood’s majesty draws you in winter, you’ll be greeted by thousands of eager snow bunnies taking to its slopes on skis and snowboards. This is when the Timberline Lodge is at its busiest: it’s famous as a ski resort, though it’s also a popular tourist destination in the spring, fall, and summer. The lodge dates back to the 1930s and was dedicated in late September of 1937 by then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and has enjoyed some more recent fame as well: its exterior was used as the facade of the Overlook Hotel in Kubrick’s 1980 The Shining, which might make it look familiar to horror film buffs!

Things to do near the Timberline Lodge: While you might feel like you’ve stepped back in time and into a far-flung alpine vista, Timberline Lodge is actually only 60 miles from Portland and all of its big-city conveniences. Plus, of course, there are tons of other wilderness destinations in this area, including the greater Mount Hood National Forest. Here are some local RVshare rentals for the journey.

6. Silver Falls State Park

South Falls At Silver Falls State Park

Don’t get us wrong: Oregon has no shortage of incredible waterfalls worth seeking out and exploring… or incredible state parks, for that matter. But there’s a reason that Silver Falls State Park, located just a short drive from the capital town of Salem, is one of the most famous of all the wilderness destinations in the entire state. This landscape is actually home to not one, but ten waterfalls, each with its own brand of staggering beauty. While it does get incredibly crowded during the popular summer months and on weekends, we’ll share a secret: grab a rain jacket and head to the park on a rainy spring weekday morning. You’ll have the trails all to yourself.

Things to do near Silver Falls State Park: If you keep heading east from Salem after you reach this state park, you’ll eventually end up at the foot of majestic Mount Jefferson — and in the stunning high desert city of Bend after that. No matter which way you turn, you’ll find plenty of adventure opportunities. Here are some local RVshare rentals to make it cozy and comfy!

7. Smith Rock State Park

Smith Rock State Park in Oregon, U.S.A.

One of the best parts of Oregon, in our opinion, is how the same state can offer so many different ecosystems: cold-but-beautiful Pacific coast beaches, misty-and-mushroomy rainforests, wildflower-dotted alpine mountain peaks, and yes, even a desert. Once you’ve come inland enough to reach the beginning of Oregon’s higher and dryer lands, you’ll shortly find yourself at Smith Rock State Park, easily one of the most staggeringly beautiful landscapes in all of the Pacific Northwest. Although there are plenty of opportunities for even casual hikers, this state park is best known as a world-class rock climbing destination… and indeed, if you hit the trails, you’ll see the stretchers and crutches that are set up at regular intervals to help out the climbers who inevitably fall. (Seriously, though: if you know what you’re doing and use ample protection, rock climbing can be safe and fun and extremely worth doing!)

Things to do near Smith Rock State Park: Just a few miles out of the beautiful riverside desert city of Bend, this area is awash with outdoor recreation opportunities. Be sure to swing by nearby Tumalo State Park and Tumalo Falls, which you can make into either a short walk or an all-day hiking experience. Here are some local RVshare rentals and campgrounds to consider.

8. Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

A couple walking through the sands in Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, Oregon Coast, USA. Footprints in the sand. View from faraway, copy space. Travel USA.

You may have heard of White Sands National Park or Great Sand Dunes National Park — each further south in New Mexico and Colorado, respectively. But Oregon has its own version of stunning, endless sand dunes: Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, a 31,500-acre swath of the Siuslaw National Forest that constitutes one of the largest temperate coastal sand dune expanses in the world. Along with hiking, paddling, birding, and other diversions, this area is very popular amongst off-road vehicle enthusiasts. However, it’s also a nesting area for snow plovers, and protections are in place during certain seasons to help keep them safe and happy.

Things to do near Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area: Located just a few miles inland from the beautiful Oregon coast along the Umpqua River, this area is surrounded by other beautiful state parks and recreation areas worth stopping in, such as Umpqua Lighthouse State Park, Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park, William M. Tugman State Park and many others. Here are some local RVshare rentals to browse.

9. Crater Lake National Park

wide angle view of Crater Lake form the top of Watchman's Peak, beautiful landscape in Oregon

Visitors to Crater Lake National Park often describe it as one of the most stunning sights they’ve ever seen — profound and swirling with some of the most vibrant hues they’ve ever set eyes on, and some colors they hadn’t known existed before. Along with its status as undeniable spectacle, this lake is a unique historical and natural landmark for other reasons, too — namely the way it was formed, when a violent volcano named Mount Mazama erupted almost 8,000 years ago. With a depth reaching 1,949 feet, it’s the deepest lake in the United States and the second-deepest on the North American continent, and the ninth-deepest on the globe. By the way, the Crater Lake Superintendent’s Residence is a National Historic Landmark in its own right, so be sure to take some time to check it out (if you can tear yourself away from the rim, that is).

Things to do near Crater Lake National Park: Located in the wilder reaches of southern Oregon, Crater Lake is about an hour and a half from the city of Grants Pass, and surrounded on all sides by even more untouched natural spaces. If you’re in need of even more outdoors adventures, check out Collier Memorial State Park or the Joseph Stewart State Recreation Area. Here are some area RVshare rentals.

10. Oregon Caves National Monument

Formations on a cave walls at the Oregon National Caves Monumant

Oregon’s caves may not be as famous as those in Kentucky or New Mexico — but they’ve been a tourist destination since they were first discovered back in 1874, by a young hunter named Elijah Jones Davidson who, legend has it, was trying to find his dog after it had run off from a bear. The caves lended to the growing communities in southern Oregon, drawing valuable tourist dollars to the area, and are also home to some unique animals that can’t be found in many other places. Even if you choose not to descend into the depths of the cave (with a guide, of course), there are some incredible hiking opportunities topside, including one leading to the summit of nearby Mt. Elijah. (Guess who it’s named for?)

Things to do near Oregon Caves National Monument: Little more than an hour from Grants Pass, the Oregon Caves are surrounded by both natural beauty and beautiful, friendly small towns that make for a great place to stay whether or not you’re camping. (Speaking of which, here are some local RVshare rentals.)

Planning an RV Trip to Oregon

Ready to see all of these Oregon landmarks for yourself — and more? An RV trip is the perfect way to do it. Let’s get you all set up!

Here, you’ll find the best peer-to-peer RV rentals in the state of Oregon, and we’ve also written guides to the best state parks and campgrounds in the state. Additionally, we’ve covered all its coolest cities, from Portland to Medford and everywhere in between.

Enjoy!

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