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Explore The Unknown Wilds Of Oregon In Its National Monuments

Photo Courtesy Flicker

There are few places in the continental United States as shrouded in mystery as the great state of Oregon.

Perhaps the average citizen has an idea of what Portland may be like, with its hip coffee shops and craft beer havens, surrounded by lush green wilderness in every direction. Most schoolchildren will likely know the capital city of Salem, memorized in geography class.

But much of the rest of the Beaver State is as unknown to non-Oregonian Americans as the thick evergreen forests that cover much of it

. For example, it might surprise some to learn that Oregon is actually one of the most geographically diverse states in the country, encompassing high deserts, volcanoes, caverns and caves, and, yes, lush green forests.

Indeed, Oregon has been a natural wonderland for generations. From the Indigenous Tribes that lived and thrived on the land millennia ago to the European explorers, fur traders, and fishermen who plied their trades centuries later to the booming lumber trade of today, the 33rd state has always been a land that gives back to its dwellers.

These days, Oregon seems to relish its anonymity, but all are always welcome to enjoy its bounty! Read on to learn more about its four National Monuments:

Oregon Caves National Monument: Dubbed the “Marble Halls of Oregon,” this spectacular site must be seen to be believed! Deep in the Siskiyou Mountains — over thousands of years — acidic water seeping through the marble carved the stunning and intricate cave system that is one of the hallmarks of this natural wonder. Visitors can take guided tours, camp, or hike in the mountains above the incredible caves. There is something for every outdoor lover!

Photo Courtesy NPS

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument: Those interested in ancient natural history should not miss this monument! The myriad colors of the rock formations surrounding this modern archaeological wonderland set the scene for visitors to transport themselves back in time by exploring the “world-class” preserves of ancient plant and animal fossils. The monument offers tours, a multitude of hiking trails, and exhibits galore. The John Day Fossil Beds will be a little slice of ancient heaven for the prehistorically interested daytrippers.

Photo Courtesy NPS

Newberry National Volcanic Monument: Visitors to this spot will feel as if they’ve been transported to another world! Established in 1990, the Newberry National Volcanic Monument preserves more than 54,000 acres of Central Oregon, containing lakes, lava flows, and incredible geographical peculiarities that must be seen in person to truly appreciate. The monument also protects the land around the more than 1,200-square-mile volcano that is still active. Popular activities include horseback riding, fishing, hiking, camping, cycling, and so much more. There isn’t much one can’t do at this truly unique destination!

Photo Courtesy USDA: Forest Service 

Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument: One would be hard-pressed to find a more stunning environment than the one at the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. It protects the spot where three distinct mountain ranges converge: Cascade, Klamath, and Siskiyou. Because of this merging, the area is one of the most diverse biological systems and landscapes, boasting plant and animal life unparalleled in the continental U.S. The monument has long been a haven for outdoor lovers and hikers, and it’s a popular destination in the winter for cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. The wilds of this Oregon site simply can’t be beat!

Photo Courtesy Flicker

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