The Top 25 Best State Parks in Oregon Too Beautiful to Miss! (2022)

Best state parks in Oregon blog cover image.  Text overlaying an image of the lighthouse at Cape Arago state park at sunset.

The diverse natural beauty of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest is found everywhere you look, but there are a handful of state parks in Oregon that truly impress.

From majestic waterfalls to geological marvels to wild coastlines, these Oregon state parks rival many of the more prestigious national park designations.

In this guide, you will discover photos, descriptions, and locations for the top 15 best state parks in Oregon, as well as the other most incredible state-maintained sights under different designations.

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Best State Parks in Oregon Overview & Gallery

Autumn foliage fills the water from South Falls in Silver Falls, considered the best Oregon state park.

First, it is important to understand that not every beautiful site maintained by the state of Oregon is given the official designation of “State Park.” There are also State Scenic Corridors, State Scenic Viewpoints, State Natural Areas, State Recreation Areas, and State Scenic Sites.

The major distinction between a state park and sites with other titles is that state parks require a parks pass and entry and/or parking fees. They also typically have staff on-site, though not always.

A state scenic viewpoint, sight, or corridor will have a sign and boundaries drawn up that protects the land from development, but will not be staffed and may or may not provide services.

This is primarily a technicality for most visitors who just want to enjoy some beautiful nature, but one worth noting nevertheless!

  • Autumn season at South Falls in Silver Falls State Park of Oregon
    1. Silver Falls

The best state maintained sites and state parks in Oregon ranked in order of beauty are:

  1. Silver Falls State Park
  2. Smith Rock State Park
  3. Tumalo State Park
  4. Wallowa Lake State Park
  5. Harris Beach State Park
  6. White River Falls State Park
  7. The Cove Palisades State Park
  8. Cape Arago State Park
  9. Jessie M Honeyman State Park (Oregon Dunes)
  10. Valley of the Rogue State Park
  11. Shore Acres State Park
  12. Lake Owyhee State Park
  13. Ecola State Park
  14. Fort Stevens State Park (Peter Iredale Shipwreck)
  15. Cottonwood Canyon State Park
    – Other State-Designated Sites –
  16. Bandon State Natural Area
  17. Bridal Veil Falls State Scenic Viewpoint
  18. Crown Point State Scenic Corridor (Vista House)
  19. Detroit Lake State Recreation Area
  20. Devils Punchbowl State Natural Area
  21. Devil’s Lake State Recreation Area
  22. Hug Point State Recreation Site
  23. Pistol River State Scenic Viewpoint
  24. Samuel Boardman State Scenic Corridor
  25. Yachats State Recreation Area

If you would like to see the complete list of state-run sites, you can find it on the Oregon State Park website here.

Top 15 Best State Parks in Oregon

This section highlights specifically the best natural areas given the official Oregon State Park designation.

They have been listed in the (subjective) order of beauty.


1. Silver Falls State Park

Silver Falls State Park is the best state park in Oregon, seen in this foggy photo featuring incredible fall colors.

Silver Falls is considered “the crown jewel” of the Oregon State Park system.

Within this Pacific Northwest treasure lies 10 majestic waterfalls that flow through an enchanted rainforest in Northern Oregon.

The highlight of the park is the 7.8-mile loop known as The Trail of Ten Falls.


2. Smith Rock State Park

Sunset in Smith Rock State Park, one of the most beautiful state parks in Oregon and the entire US.

If there is any debate for the number 1 spot on the list of Oregon’s best state parks, Smith Rock State Park is the contender.

Considered one of the official Seven Wonders of Oregon, Smith Rock is a craggily-rock paradise for hikers, climbers, photographers, and adventure seekers.

Despite its name, the Misery Ridge Trail is considered the best of the best of the many trails available.


3. Tumalo State Park

Tumalo Falls is the most famous waterfall, but most visitors fail to realize that there are a dozen waterfalls that cascade down rivers and creeks within Tumalo State Park!

Located in stunning Central Oregon, Tumalo State Park is home to iconic PNW wilderness that will have your memory cards full in seconds.


4. Wallowa Lake State Park

Wallowa Lake State Park photo with stunning views of the Wallowa Mountains in Oregon.

The Wallowa Mountains are another one of Oregon’s 7 wonders, and Wallowa Lake State Park is the best place to take them in.

Set in tranquil eastern Oregon, this remote state park is as beautiful as it is quiet.

Visitors will enjoy a bit of serenity and idyllic views of the striking mountainous beauty of the Wallowa region.


5. Harris Beach State Park

Golden Hour at Lone Ranch in Harris Beach State Park on the Oregon Coast

One of the best state parks in Oregon is located right on the southern border in the often-overlooked landscape photography destination of the Southern Oregon coast.

Harris Beach State Park provides facilities and camping along a coastal stretch filled with fascinating sea stacks.

You will find this park near the town of Brookings near the California / Oregon border.


6. White River Falls State Park

Stunning long exposure photography from one of the most beautiful Oregon state parks at White River Falls.

White River Falls State Park is home to one of the most beautiful waterfalls in all of Oregon; a state with more waterfalls than any other!

This beautiful cascade is located near the remote town of Maupin in Central Oregon.

The short 0.8-mile trail brings visitors to incredible views of White River Falls as it plunges 90 feet down through basalt rock to create a visually striking scene.


7. The Cove Palisades State Park

A couple sits on the cliffs at the Cove Palisades State Park in Oregon.

Another Central Oregon wonder, The Cove Palisades State Park protects an enchanting canyon where the Deschutes River and Crooked River merge.

This state park gem is popular for all manner of outdoor activity, but is most popular for hiking, fishing, and camping.


8. Cape Arago State Park

Oregonians love lighthouses. They are a metaphor for resilience and offer tangible nostalgia of a time not long gone.

Of the many wonderful lighthouses in the state, the decommissioned one at Cape Arago may be the most beautiful within the Oregon State Park system.

You will find this often-overlooked gem near Coos Bay on the Oregon coast.


9. Jessie M Honeyman State Park

Drone photography of the Oregon Sand Dunes on the Oregon Coast

Located outside of Florence, the Oregon sand dunes provide a natural sandbox for adults and kids alike.

A visit here is one of the best things to do in Oregon. It is especially popular for motorsports such as dirt bike riding and quadding.

Jessie M Honeyman State Park protects the largest area of dunes and provides facilities for visitors coming to enjoy this unique natural feature.


10. Valley of the Rogue State Park

Valley of the Rogue State Park, as seen from the sky in winter, is the most popular state park in Oregon.

A surprise to most, Southern Oregon’s Valley of the Rogue is actually the most popular state park in Oregon welcoming 1.8 million visitors each year.

On a personal note, this also happens to have a special place in my heart as I was raised down the road from this beautiful park in a town called Rogue River.

Travelers will find the park located conveniently off of the I5 freeway near the small town of Gold Hill.


11. Shore Acres State Park

Shore Acres State Park has become famous for its violent waves, particularly during the annual winter “king tides.”

Shore Acres is the best state park in Oregon for watching these massive tidal forces collide with the rocky coastline, resulting in a spectacular demonstration of nature’s raw power.

Like Cape Arago State Park mentioned above, Shore Acres is located near Coos Bay on the Central Oregon coast.


12. Lake Owyhee State Park

Much to the dismay of locals, Lake Owyhee and the Owyhee Canyon have gone from relative obscurity to extremely popular in recent years.

The natural beauty of Lake Owyhee State Park cannot be overstated, but the peace and solitude have long been the calling cards of this remote park in eastern Oregon.


13. Ecola State Park

A girl stands in the grass at Ecola State Park on the Oregon coast, one of the best state parks in Oregon.

Cannon Beach is the most visited beach in Oregon. This is due in most part to the proximity to Oregon’s only metropolitan city of Portland.

That said, Haystack Rock also is an incredible sea stack that photos never do justice to.

Of all the places to view Cannon Beach from, Ecola State Park provides the best viewpoint. From here, sweeping and photogenic views of the mountainous coastline validate Oregon’s reputation for out-of-this-world nature and landscapes.


14. Fort Stevens State Park (Peter Iredale Shipwreck)

Sunset photography from Peter Iredale Shipwreck in Fort Stevens State Park on the Oregon coast.

Known mostly for the famous photography destination of The Wreck of Peter Iredale, Fort Stevens actually has far more to offer.

This state park is comprised of 4300 acres. There are a variety of recreation opportunities for outdoor lovers, including camping, beach-combing, hiking trails, abundant wildlife, and even a freshwater lake for swimming.


15. Cottonwood Canyon State Park

Snowy mountains fill the distance in this photo from Cottonwood Canyon State Park, one of the best state parks in Oregon.

Until recently, one of the best state parks in Oregon has gone mostly overlooked.

Cottonwood Canyon State Park is quickly building a reputation as one of the most beautiful, partially undiscovered regions of Oregon.

A colorful palette with a clearwater river lined with towering canyon walls awaits adventurers in search of a new adventure.


Best Non-State Parks in Oregon

As discussed, plenty of the most beautiful nature sites in Oregon are maintained by the state but not given “state park” designation.

Below is the list with a photo slideshow of Oregon’s Top 10 most beautiful places maintained by the state that are not technically state parks.

  1. Bandon State Natural Area
  2. Bridal Veil Falls State Scenic Viewpoint
  3. Crown Point State Scenic Corridor (Vista House)
  4. Detroit Lake State Recreation Area
  5. Devils Punchbowl State Natural Area
  6. Devil’s Lake State Recreation Area
  7. Hug Point State Recreation Site
  8. Pistol River State Scenic Viewpoint
  9. Samuel Boardman State Scenic Corridor
  10. Yachats State Recreation Area
  • Autumn season at South Falls in Silver Falls State Park of Oregon
    1. Silver Falls

Best Oregon State Park FAQs

Use the dropdown arrows in this section to reveal answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding the best state parks in Oregon.

What are the best state parks in Oregon?

Not counting state-run scenic areas and scenic viewpoints, the best state parks in Oregon ranked in order of beauty are:

  1. Silver Falls State Park
  2. Smith Rock State Park
  3. Tumalo State Park
  4. Wallowa Lake State Park
  5. Harris Beach State Park
  6. White River Falls State Park
  7. The Cove Palisades State Park
  8. Cape Arago State Park
  9. Jessie M Honeyman State Park (Oregon Dunes)
  10. Valley of the Rogue State Park
  11. Shore Acres State Park
  12. Lake Owyhee State Park
  13. Ecola State Park
  14. Fort Stevens State Park (Peter Iredale Shipwreck)
  15. Cottonwood Canyon State Park
What is the most popular state park in Oregon?
Valley of the Rogue State Park, as seen from the sky in winter, is the most popular state park in Oregon.

Surprisingly, Valley of the Rogue state park just off the I-5 freeway in Southern Oregon is the most popular, most visited park in the state! Each year, this riverside park welcomes 1.8 million visitors to camp, hike, and enjoy the Rogue River.

What is the most beautiful state park in Oregon?
Sunset in Smith Rock State Park, one of the most beautiful state parks in Oregon and the entire US.

Smith Rock State Park and Silver Falls State Park are undeniably the two most beautiful state parks in Oregon. Silver Falls is home to “The Trail of 10 Falls” which takes visitors through 8-miles of lush rainforest past ten majestic waterfalls, while Smith Rock is a geological marvel with towering rock outcroppings and a twisting river that flows through like a moat.

A hiker stands in front of one of 10 waterfalls in Silver Falls State Park, one of the most beautiful Oregon state parks.
How many state and national parks are there in Oregon?

Oregon is home to only one official National Park in Crater Lake NP, as well as 4 other NPS sites including 3 National Monuments. There are over 200 parks managed by the state, including state parks, state recreation areas, and state viewpoints.

What is the difference between a state park and a state sight in Oregon?

The major distinction between a state park and state-maintained sites with other titles, such as “Scenic Viewpoint” or “Scenic Sight”, is that state parks require a pass and entry fees and/or parking fees. They also typically have staff on site (though not always).

A state scenic viewpoint, sight, or corridor will have a sign and boundaries drawn up that protects the land from development, but will not be staffed and may or may not provide services for visitors.


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Are you planning a trip to Oregon or the beautiful Pacific Northwest? Or perhaps you’re a local just looking to get out and explore more of our beautiful state?

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