The 25 Best State Parks in Oregon

By Lisa Medeiros April 23, 2021
(Credit: Bob Pool/Shutterstock)

From seaside caves and geological wonders to networks of trails and year-round camping, Oregon’s state park system overflows with sightseeing and recreational opportunities, With 256 state parks across 113,000 acres, the Beaver State has plenty of space to accommodate those who love the great outdoors. To help you plan your next adventure, we’ve put together the 25 best state parks in Oregon based on visitor reviews, unique features, and abundant recreational activities.

1. Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area

The
The Best State Parks in Oregon: Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area (Credit: Panpilas L/Shutterstock)

Hours: Open for day use year-round
Admission: Free

Encompassing 1,300 acres on the rocky Central Oregon Coast, Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area offers visitors access to wildlife-filled tide pools, sandy beaches, surfing and hiking. But the main allure is the Devil’s Punchbowl itself. This natural wonder was formed when two caves, carved by the forceful ocean, collapsed onto themselves. For epic views of the formation, hike Devil’s Chair Trail. This popular trek takes hikers on an eight-mile round-trip journey through pine forest before leading to a breathtaking overlook. 

2. Cape Lookout State Park

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The Best State Parks in Oregon: Cape Lookout State Park (Credit: Iris van den Broek/Shutterstock)

Hours: Open daily year-round 
Admission: Free; daily parking permit purchase required

On the sand split between Netarts Bay and the Pacific Ocean sits scenic Cape Lookout State Park. Visitors flock to this 2,000-acre park for its pristine beaches, scenic hikes and a chance at spotting migrating whales. Hikers can set out on Cape Trail for a five-mile excursion through the spruce trees and hemlocks en route to the summit of Cape Lookout for sweeping ocean views. Campers will find plenty of year-round camping options among the park’s 170 tent sites, 13 yurts and six deluxe cabins. 

3. Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint

View
The Best State Parks in Oregon: Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint (Credit: Thomas Kreulen/Shutterstock)

Hours: Open for day use year-round
Admission: Free

Named for the off-shore rock formation resembling a human face, Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint features sandy beaches from which you can admire sea stacks, rock formations carved by the ocean waves. Relax and unwind at this peaceful state park, located on the Southern Oregon Coast. Take a beach walk or explore the tide pools while embracing Native American folklore by listening for the maiden’s voice. According to legend, a young maiden was swept out to sea while walking the beach. Her voice is rumored to whisper in the winds. 

4. Shore Acres State Park

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The Best State Parks in Oregon: Shore Acres State Park (Credit: Michael Schober/Shutterstock)

Hours: Open for day use year-round 
Admission: Free; daily parking permit purchase required

This coastal park on the southern Oregon coast, was once the private estate of timber baron Louis J. Simpson. Today, visitors to Shore Acres State Park can stroll the 743-acre estate, dating back to 1906, and tour the formal gardens showcasing plants and flowers from around the world. A stroll on the rocky bluff provides picturesque Pacific Ocean views. Each year from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve, the grounds are adorned with colorful lights and holiday decor bringing the magic of the holidays to visitors. 

5. Harris Beach State Park

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The Best State Parks in Oregon: Harris Beach State Park (Credit: EyeLights West/Shutterstock)

Hours: Open for day use year-round 
Admission: Free

Experience the dramatic Oregon coastline at Harris Beach State Park, featuring miles of sandy beaches, year-round camping and various hiking trails. Follow the Harris Beach Trail to Harris Butte for a half mile out and back trek through Oregon wildflowers while enjoying panoramic ocean views. The park is also home to Bird Island, the largest island off the Oregon coast and a National Wildlife Refuge. Though the island attracts rare birds to the area, like the tufted puffin,  it is off-limits to the public. 

6. Cape Perpetua Scenic Area

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The Best State Parks in Oregon: Cape Perpetua Scenic Area (Credit: Rigucci/Shutterstock)

Hours: Open for day use year-round
Admission: Free

Protruding into the Pacific, Cape Perpetua Scenic Area is a Central Oregon Coast gem. Start your journey at the visitors center for information about the area while enjoying scenic ocean views from the outside deck. This 2,700-acre forested park is located within the Siuslaw National Forest. Visitors can picnic, fish, view wildlife and hike. Among its 26 miles of hiking trails, the 2.2-mile Saint Perpetua Trail is particularly popular because it affords breathtaking ocean views. 

7. Ecola State Park

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The Best State Parks in Oregon: Ecola State Park (Credit: tusharkoley/Shutterstock)

Hours: Open for day use year-round
Admission: Free; daily parking permit purchase required

Sprawling across nine miles of Northern Oregon coastline, sits Ecola State Park. Visitors enter through a forest of Sitka spruce trees before embarking upon a lush grassy bluff overlooking the ocean waves. Once in the park, visitors have opportunities to spot wildlife, including deer and elk, and explore marine life within the tide pools. Another popular pastime is surfing at the secluded Indian Beach. Hikers delight in the park’s extensive trail system, including an eight-mile section of the Oregon Coast Trail and the 2.5-mile historic Clatsop Loop Trail originally blazed by Captain William Clark in 1806. 

8. Smith Rock State Park

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The Best State Parks in Oregon: Smith Rock State Park (Credit: Manuela Durson/Shutterstock)

Hours: Open for day use year-round
Admission: Free; daily parking permit purchase required

Thrill-seeking rock climbers know Smith Rock State Park as the birthplace of modern American sport climbing. Nestled in Central Oregon’s High Desert, this 642-acre park boasts nearly 2,000 rock climbing routes to experience. Familiarize yourself with Smith Rock by starting with Dancer Route, providing smaller holds on its low angle rocks. Additional outdoor adventure activities include trail running, horseback riding, mountain biking, and tent camping. 

9. Hug Point State Recreation Site

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The Best State Parks in Oregon: Hug Point State Recreation Site (Credit: CSNafzger/Shutterstock)

Hours: Open for day use year-round
Admission: Free

Tranquil ocean views and quiet beach walks are the main allure to Hug Point State Recreation Site. The park’s name dates back to the 19th century when stagecoaches using the beach as a roadway had to “hug” the coast to avoid the surf. Located south of Canyon Beach on the northern Oregon coast, the park offers a selection of intriguing geological features to explore, from sea caves and waterfalls to sandstone cliffs and tidal pools.

10. Fort Stevens State Park

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The Best State Parks in Oregon: Fort Stevens State Park (Credit: Bob Pool/Shutterstock)

Hours: Open for day use year-round 
Admission: Free

Steeped in history, Fort Stevens State Park was once a primary military installation on the Columbia River, in service from the Civil War through World War II. Learn about the park’s history at the military museum in the visitors center. The park also houses a shipwrecked relic. In 1906, the sailing vessel the Peter Iredale ran ashore on the Oregon coast en route to the Columbia River. Its rusted bow and mast can be seen jetting out from the sandy shore. The 4,300-acre park features 15 miles of trails for hiking and biking. Coffenbury Lake, a 50-acre freshwater lake popular with swimmers, is surrounded by picnic areas and a two-mile trail.

See the full list of the 25 best state parks in Oregon:

1. Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area
2. Cape Lookout State Park
3. Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint
4. Shore Acre State Park
5. Harris Beach State Park
6. Cape Perpetua Scenic Area
7. Ecola State Park
8. Smith Rock State Park
9. Hug Point State Recreation Site
10. Forest Stevens State Park
11. Silver Falls State Park
12. Minam State Recreation Area
13. Tualmo State Park
14. South Beach State Park
15. Prinesville Recevoir State Park
16. Pete Skeen Ogden State Park
17. The Cove Palisades State Park
19. Beverly Beach State Park
20. Cape Blanco State Park
21. Sunset Bay State Park
22. LaPine State Park
23. Wallowa Lake State Park
24. Milo McIver State Park
25. Clyde Holliday State Recreation Site

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