3. Oregon Coast
4. Crater Lake National Park
John Day Fossil Beds National Monument
While there’s not much out in eastern Oregon, this place is a hidden gem. I was on my way out to Idaho in search of hot springs and this was not much of a detour. After seeing some pictures I figured it was at least a good place to break up the drive and stop for lunch. Ended up spending a few hours here exploring the very colorful landscape. I visited two of the three units in this national monument, each of which is about an hour drive apart. The Painted Hills Unit is just what it sounds like. Millions of years of evolution created this incredibly scenic and highly colorful landscape. Be sure to stop at the visitor’s center to read about it. The Painted Hills Overlook is a must see and the Painted Cove Trail was short, pretty, and informative. The Red Hill Trail is short and sweet if you still have some time. Moving on to the Sheep Rock Unit, it’s not quite as colorful, but has some pretty hikes, including the Blue Basin Overlook Trail and Cathedral Rock. This is where the paleontology center is located.
- Fires. Prevalent starting as early as July, but ramp up in August and September. Mostly to the east, but the smoke may affect the air quality of places several hours away. Not to mention hiking and other natural areas may be closed off. Plan your trip accordingly, look for fire activity maps/apps (e.g. Google Maps), and definitely be aware of what's happening around you if you plan on camping.