PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Spring and summer are busy periods for Oregon’s outdoor activities, but there are still ways to have fun in the colder months — especially if you’re visiting the state’s national parks or monuments.
Lewis and Clark National Historic Park
Lewis and Clark National Historic Park gets the most visitors in late July and early August, so a wintertime trip is perfect for avoiding crowds. Park guests can hike on the 14.5 miles of trails, go sport fishing in the streams and rivers, and check out Fort Clatsop.
Fort Clatsop is the park’s most popular attraction. It was once the winter encampment for the Corps of Discovery in the early 1800s. Now, visitors can learn more about it with a self-guided audio tour.
Crater Lake National Park
According to the National Park Service, Crater Lake National Park sees an average 42 feet of snow each year. During the winter, the park closes its North Entrance Road and Rim Drive so park visitors can make the most of the snow activities that are available during the season.
These activities include backcountry camping, downhill skiing and snowboarding, snowshoeing and sledding. For visitors who want a learning experience, park rangers regularly guide snowshoe walks in which participants explore the forests and meadows near the park.
Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve
Ranger-guided cave tours are only scheduled from March to November, but there is year-round opportunity to go to the Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve. Visitors have six hiking trails to choose from. They range from 0.7 miles to 9.2 miles, so even inexperienced hikers can take part.
The longest hike, on the Bigelow Lakes Trail, takes visitors all of the way up to Mt. Elijah’s 6,390-foot summit. The National Park Service said hikers can also get a good view of Mt. Shasta and Preston Peak on clearer days.
John Day Fossil Beds National Monument
Three units make up the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument: Sheep Rock, Painted Hills and Clarno. The National Park Service said people may not have enough time to visit all three in one day. However, visitors have a better chance at doing so if they have an early start.
The Sheep Rock unit, named after the bighorn sheep that once lived there, features a number of rocks that were traced back to 95 million years ago. Secondly, the Painted Hills unit has five designated trails for active visitors. The Clarno unit has three hiking trails, in addition to a close-by picnic area.