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As much as some of us may be inclined to complain about our famous wet weather, the Pacific Northwest has no shortage of natural beauty. In fact, you can go from mountains to the sea and desert, experiencing a wide variety of outdoor experiences.

While many of these destinations will be familiar to longtime locals, they still serve as a reminder of how good we have it for people with a wandering spirit.

Columbia-river-gorge-300x225Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

The Columbia River Gorge splits Washington and Oregon and is one of the most convenient ways to experience the natural beauty of the Northwest for residents of the Portland/Vancouver area.

Head east on I-84, leaving the suburbs of Portland, replacing them with beautiful mountain walls on either side of the Columbia River. Soon you will run into one of the more famous landmarks in the region, Multnomah Falls, where the Multnomah creek drops some 600 feet. If you like waterfalls, there are more than 90 on the Oregon side of the gorge alone.

Besides the falls, the gorge is well known for the wind tunnel effect that makes windsurfing a popular activity.

Mt-Hood-300x107Mt. Hood, Oregon

It’s the most prominent object of the Portland skyline. Mt. Hood is Oregon’s highest peak at 11,240 feet, making it a popular destination for hikers, skiers, and adventure-seekers of all kinds. Visit the famous Timberline Lodge, whose facade was famously spotlighted in the movie, The Shining.

hells canyonHell’s Canyon Scenic Byway

The byway loops around the Wallowa Mountains, intersecting with Interstate 84 at La Grande and Baker City. Be prepared, because there are stretches of more than 80 miles without gas and little in the way of services.

Visit the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area, where 12 species of hawks and eagles nest. If you make your way to Joseph, Oregon, visit the nearby Wallowa Lake where you can take the tramway up Mt. Howard, with an elevation 8,256 feet and a rise of 4,000 feet.

This is just the beginning of what there is to see for those who love the natural beauty of Eastern Oregon.

Mt-St-Helens-300x202Mount St. Helens, Washington

Its world-renown is largely due to the catastrophe it brought during the volcanic eruption in May 1980. After the eruption, it gained a mile-wide crater and lost 1,300 feet in height. It’s still a natural beauty worth visiting, especially since you can see firsthand the power of nature destructive forces and how it has slowly begun a rebirth over the last 34 years.

Crater-Lake-300x225Crater Lake, Oregon

Take a trip south to the serene blue waters of Crater Lake in southern Oregon. At it’s deepest point, the lake reaches 1,943 feet, making it the deepest lake in the United States. There’s hiking and cross-country skiing, and more photo opportunities than you’ll ever have time for. For a casual visit, take a spin around the 33-mile loop Rim Drive that navigates the circumference of the lake. There are plenty of places to park and take in the beauty.
This only scratches the surface of the beautiful travel destinations offered by the Northwest. Pack up your family, get in your car, and start an adventure today!

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