Top 5 Strange Natural Wonders in Oregon

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By Visit Oregon

Feb 24, 2023 / 8:50 pm

Top 5 Strange Natural Wonders in Oregon
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Oregon is known for its stunning natural beauty, from the rugged coastline to the majestic peaks of the Cascade Mountains. But did you know that Oregon is also home to some of the most unique and unusual natural wonders in the world? From bubbling hot springs to glowing caves, Oregon is full of strange and fascinating natural phenomena just waiting to be explored.

In this blog post, we’ll be taking a look at the top 5 strange natural wonders in Oregon that are sure to amaze and inspire. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a curious traveler, or simply looking for something new and offbeat to explore, these natural wonders are not to be missed.

So grab your hiking boots and your sense of adventure, and let’s take a journey through the strange world of Oregon’s natural wonders!

God’s Thumb in Lincoln City Oregon

“A Breathtaking Hike with Stunning Views”

God’s Thumb, located in Lincoln City, Oregon, is a fascinating natural wonder that offers a moderately challenging hike, stunning views, and the opportunity to get up close and personal with nature. The God’s Thumb hike is a 4.3-mile, there-and-back trail that offers an elevation gain of up to 599 ft, making it a challenging but doable hike for the average person. The hike is rated as “moderately challenging”, likely due to the elevation gain and muddy sections along the trail.

What’s It Like Hiking God’s Thumb?

The hike begins with an ascent up to the picturesque spot at the end of the God’s Thumb Trailhead. While the first mile offers the worst elevation, there is an alternative option for those who are not quite ready for the full hike.

Hiking up to The Knoll offers a great spot for a picnic and provides many of the same views as God’s Thumb, including the beach, Oregon coast, and the Lincoln City cityscape.

When Is The Best Time To Hike God’s Thumb?

For those looking to hike God’s Thumb, it’s best to come early on a weekday to ensure a parking spot. The trail can get busy on weekends, especially during summer.

Where Can You Park To Get To God’s Thumb Trailhead?

It’s important to note that there are a few different parking locations, but the closest place to park is labeled as “Knoll Trailhead No.2” on Google Maps. This is a residential area, and there are less than ten designated spots available, so arriving early is essential.

What Should You Consider When Hiking God’s Thumb?

When hiking God’s Thumb, it’s important to wear sturdy shoes and take note of the muddy sections along the trail. The summit can also be slippery, so hikers should exercise caution. Additionally, it’s worth taking the time to hike up to The Knoll for the additional bonus view. There are steep sections and cliffside areas along the trail, so it’s important to take care.

Hiking God’s Thumb is a free activity, and leashed dogs are allowed on the trail. However, the summit isn’t very large, so if there are many people at the top, it’s best to wait for some to come down, as God’s Thumb has cliffs on all sides. Overall, God’s Thumb is a must-visit natural wonder for those seeking adventure and stunning views in Oregon.

Painted Hills Oregon

“A Scenic Journey Through Time and History”

Painted Hills in Oregon is a natural wonder that offers visitors the chance to witness millions of years of history revealed in the layers of mountains of earth, one color at a time. The hills get their name from the delicately colored stratifications in the soil, with tones and hues that may appear to change from one visit to another, as the claystone differs with ever-changing light and moisture levels.

While visiting the Painted Hills, it’s important to practice Leave No Trace principles and follow guidelines such as staying on the trail and wearing appropriate footwear to prevent tripping and slipping. Visitors should also be mindful of desert critters, including rattlesnakes, ticks, scorpions, and black widow spiders, and bring plenty of water, sunscreen, layers, and hats, as the sun is intense and shade is minimal.

When Is The Best Time To Visit Painted Hills?

The Painted Hills in Oregon can be visited year-round, as the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument is open all day. However, the best time to see the Painted Hills Unit is during late spring or early summer when the wildflowers are in bloom, and the weather is perfect for experiencing the sunset, sunrise, and night-sky views. During this time, visitors can witness the vibrant colors of the hills in their full glory, making it an ideal time to experience this natural wonder.

What Caused The Painted Hills?

The creation of the Painted Hills in Oregon can be traced back to volcanic activity that occurred over the past 40+ million years. Layers of ash, iron oxides, and other minerals were deposited during these periods, eventually leading to the formation of the hills. Over time, weathering has played a significant role in bringing out vibrant colors and smoothing out the hillsides, creating the breathtaking natural wonder we see today.

What Can You Expect At Painted Hills?

The Painted Hills is a relatively small area to explore, and visitors won’t need more than three hours to experience it fully. While there are only five short hikes in the park, ranging from 0.25 miles to 1.6 miles, they offer an immersive experience that reveals the full beauty of the hills. Fossil collecting is strictly prohibited, as federal law protects all fossils and other natural and cultural features in the park.

Visiting the Painted Hills is an unforgettable experience, offering visitors the opportunity to witness millions of years of history and the vibrant colors and beauty of the Oregon landscape.

Monkey Face Rock in Smith Rock State Park

“A Climber’s Paradise”

Monkey Face Rock at Smith Rock State Park in Oregon is a challenge for even the most experienced climbers. With its smiling face, climbers are invited to take on the multiple pitch mix of  thin cracks, and overhanging rocks on every route to the top.

While it is a famous destination, few actually rise to the challenge, perhaps due to the 25-30 minute hike to get there or the howling west wind in the winter on this exposed column. However, those who do climb it are rewarded with breathtaking views and an incredible sense of accomplishment.

Beginners to aid climbing can start with the bolt ladder of The Pioneer Route, while experienced climbers can take on the challenge of the 5.14c Just Do It, which was for many years the hardest route in the country.

How do you get to Monkey rock?

To get to Monkey Face Rock, visitors can start by going going to the left at the bridge on the River Trail for about .25 miles just past Christian Brothers, and then cut up and over Asterisk Pass for 120 feet of elevation gain to connect on the other side to the Mesa Verde Trail, then follow it up another 200 feet of elevation to the base.

How Long Does It Take To Hike Monkey Rock?

To reach the base of Monkey Face Rock in Smith Rock State Park, visitors will need to hike for an estimated 4-7 hours. The duration of the hike may vary depending on several factors, including the fitness level of the hiker, the weather conditions, and the chosen route. The trail to Monkey Face Rock is considered to be a moderate to strenuous hike, and visitors are advised to be prepared with sturdy footwear, adequate water, and snacks to keep their energy levels up.

Despite its challenges, Monkey Face is still a popular destination for climbers, offering a range of classic trad and sports lines, as well as the opportunity to make the tyrolean traverse from the main buttress to the monkey’s mouth or even attempt a spectacular high line walk.

Wizard Island in Crater Lake National Park

“A Unique Cinder Cone Island”

Wizard Island is an enchanting volcanic island situated in the middle of Crater Lake National Park, the deepest lake in the US and one of the purest lakes in the world. The island is the largest among the two islands on the lake, and visitors can hike up to its top via the moderate-rated Wizard Island Trail, a 3.7 km out-and-back hike that offers stunning views of the lake and its surroundings.

How To Go To Wizard Island?

In the summer, visitors can join the Wizard Island boat tours, which offer a tour of the lake’s perimeter and three hours to explore the island. This provides ample time to hike the Wizard Island Summit Trail, take in the panoramic views, swim, fish, and explore this unique part of Crater Lake National Park.

When hiking on Wizard Island, visitors are encouraged to try the Wizard Island Summit Trail, which is rated as moderate and takes about an hour to reach the summit. The trail is 2.2 miles round trip and offers a path leading to the 90-foot-deep crater at the summit. This moderate hike provides stunning views of the surrounding mountains and is well worth the effort.

Why is it called Wizard Island?

The cinder cone on top of Wizard Island got its name because it looks like a wizard’s hat. It’s made up of small pieces of frothy andesite, and you can see blocky andesite lava flows that come from the base of the cinder cone. In the drowned lava field, you’ll find sinuous channels that are depressions between lava flow lobes.

Is Wizard Island still active?

The most recent volcanic activity at Crater Lake happened around 4,800 years ago when a small lava dome erupted underwater on the east flank of the base of Wizard Island. Since then, the volcano has been dormant, resulting in the accumulation of up to 30 meters (100 feet) of sediment on the lake floor.

Natural Bridges Samuel H Boardman State Scenic Corridor

“Discover Oregon’s Coastal Wonders”

Samuel H Boardman State Scenic Corridor offers visitors an unparalleled glimpse into Oregon’s rugged coastline, with its 12 miles of ocean-hugging terrain, craggy bluffs, and secluded beaches. This scenic drive has many turnoffs, featuring access to parking spaces, epic viewpoints, and scenic trailheads that link to an 18-mile section of the Oregon Coast Trail.

Visitors can spend the day hiking one of the sections or stop at each parking area and explore its unique features. From Cape Ferrelo Viewpoint and House Rock Viewpoint to Whaleshead Beach and Arch Rock, this stretch of the highway offers something for everyone.

One of the highlights of the park is Natural Bridges, where a short trail leads to stunning views of the seven iconic arch rocks and blowholes. Visitors can also pay their respects to Dr. Samuel Dicken, who many believe was the first to envision the Oregon Coast Trail, at a memorial located on the trail. Take a moment to appreciate the rich history of the area, as explorers, Native American peoples, and some early settlers have all walked the same paths for millennia.

How long of a hike is Natural Bridges in Oregon?

For a 1-kilometer round-trip trail, it is commonly regarded as easy and can typically be finished in around 14 minutes. While it is a favorite among hikers and runners, it is still possible to have some peace during less busy hours.

How do I get to the natural bridges?

To get to the Natural Bridges overlook, start at the trailhead and take the path on the right side of the parking lot. At the first fork, turn left, and at the second fork, turn left again. Follow the trail to the overlook. To get to the bridge, continue to the right and descend the bridge.

Explore Oregon’s Strangest Natural Wonders

Oregon is a land of incredible natural wonders that never fails to amaze visitors with its stunning beauty and uniqueness. And while Oregon’s natural wonders may be strange to some, they are a testament to the wonders of nature and its ability to create awe-inspiring landscapes that we can appreciate and cherish for years to come.

So if you’re looking for a unique outdoor adventure, head to Oregon and discover these natural wonders for yourself!

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