Our Top 5 Favorite Oregon Travel Destinations in 2024

Oregon is a state rich in both history and beauty, as many long-term residents will happily tell you.

Whether or not you’re a tourist, someone passing through, or a resident looking to explore your home state, you’ll have more than enough destinations to keep you busy for a while. Of course, while there are quite a few things to see, there are a few attractions that stand out more than others. From large underground caves to an abandoned lighthouse, there are five destinations that we really feel will shine through in 2024.

Based on a mix of personal experience and reviews from people just like you and I, we’ve formed a list of our Top 5 favorite Oregon travel destinations; the ones that really helped to define the state last year. If you’re looking to see more of Oregon, these trips are certainly worth your time.


The Alvord Desert

Alvord desert, Oregon
Sunset in Alvord desert, Oregon

The Alvord Desert is a unique piece of land bordered by strips of mountain lands. The desert is actually a dried lake bed, the transformation of which has led to a very unique landscape. It’s a perfectly flat horizon, allowing the beauty of the mountains, its greenery, and the sky to really shine through.

The Alvord Desert is perfect for many activities, including camping, stargazing, taking a nearby trail, or simply enjoying a nice drive out on this smooth landscape.

One of the biggest attractions is the Alvord Hot Springs, which many people visit for a chance to relax and unwind in the soothing waters of a non-artificial hot spring.

The desert is a nice place with a beautiful backdrop that everyone should see at least once during their stay.


Tillamook Rock Lighthouse

Tillamook Rock Light
Tillamook Rock Light, one mile offshore from Tillamook Head

If you’re looking for a spookier tale, I believe you’ll find it in the stories surrounding the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, also known as “Terrible Tilly”.

Initially lit in 1881, Terrible Tilly has garnered a reputation for being a rather deadly monument to be around, particularly during its construction period, where numerous people died or were injured trying to bring the lighthouse to life. This includes an entire shipwreck, as well. These events have been chalked up to the fact that Tillamook Rock Lighthouse is just in a very unfortunate spot.

In 1957, the lighthouse was shut off for good. It was revived at some point as a place to hold people’s remains, but even that went wrong.

Now Tilly sits a mile off of the Oregon Northern Coast, a pillar that is forever inaccessible to the public but is still very much interesting to see and learn about.


Neskowin Ghost Forest

Before You Visit Neskowin Forest

The Neskowin Ghost Forest, found just out of Neskowin, Oregon, refers to the remains of a 2,000 year old Sitka spruce forest. There are several theories as to what could have wiped out a forest that once held trees standing around 150 to 2000 feet, but in the end, the results stayed the same: the stumps of these trees were overcome with the tides of the ocean and buried for two millennia, where they were well preserved.

It wasn’t until some pretty extreme winter storms between 1997 and 1998 that the ghost forest was uncovered. They now remain that way, occasionally shrouded by the high tides, but always peeking out during the low tides.

Walking amongst the large petrified stumps gives you just a glimpse as to what the world truly was 2,000 years ago. Not to mention, it’s always a great photo opportunity and a marvel to see in person.


Timber Gulch in the Owyhee Canyonlands

Timber Gulch cliffs, Honeycombs Wilderness Area, Leslie Gulch Area
Timber Gulch cliffs, Honeycombs Wilderness Area, Leslie Gulch Area

If it’s a hike you want, the Owyhee Canyonlands are the place you want to be. These lands have many miles of hiking trails for you to go out and explore, but Timber Gulch is a hidden gem among the twisting passageways carved out by time.

Timber Gulch is a very easy hike to perform; it’s one you can bring the family along for. It’s about 1.3 miles total and is a simple in-and-out hike.

Timber Gulch isn’t likely to be very crowded since it’s lesser known compared to another trail, Juniper Gulch, but it’s still just as beautiful. Its trailhead is not as easy to see as others, but once you know what you’re looking for, you can grab a hiking map and head on in.

On this trail, you’re going to find breathtaking rhyolite formations, painting the canyon in reds, yellows, browns, and oranges. You can find it honeycombed everywhere, giving the canyon a touch of color that most canyons need. You’ll also  be amazed by the towering cathedrals of rock, standing as pillars and testaments to what nature is truly capable of.

The canyon also holds a natural amphitheater, which in itself is a sight to behold. It also allows you to take a break in the shade of the cliff before you finally head back. Just remember to bring plenty of water and sunscreen before you go in!


Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve

Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve

A monument located 4,000 feet above sea level in the Siskiyou Mountains, the Oregon Caves National Monument was first discovered back in 1874 and opened up a whole new world of exploration.

The Oregon Caves are amazing to look at from the inside, and during hot days, the cool interior of the monument can feel refreshing. You can find guided tours for among the 15,000 feet of passages that are currently available. The well-trained tour guides will show you everything there is to see from this natural wonder created millions of years ago. You’ll find discussions of the unique geology, fossils, and the flora and fauna of the area. Depending on which tour you take, you could also see the only subterranean Wild and Scenic River in the United States — the River Styx.

Not only do they have regular guided tours, but they also have family-friendly tours for the kids. Regardless of if they learn anything or not, they’ll be sure to have a blast exploring this natural wonder of the world.


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