In Oregon, there are 13 National Forests totaling about 16 million acres, or approximately 25% of the state. These national forests are managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Contained in these forests are countless thousands of old growth regions, forests that have been untouched by logging efforts. Thinking of visiting Oregon? Here are 10 Oregon National Forests to add to your bucket list!
Fremont National Forest
Fremont National Forest is a 1.1 million acre forest located just east of the Cascade Mountain Range. It extends from south-central Oregon all the way down to the Oregon-California state line. The National Forest was founded in 1908 and named after John C. Fremont, who explored the area in 1843. This national forest contains 549,800 acres of old growth forest. Hiking, camping, boating, backpacking, biking, skiing, hunting, fishing, and horseback riding are all permitted recreational activities in the national forest.
Umatilla National Forest
Umatilla National Forest is found in the Blue Mountains in Northeast Oregon. It is a 1.4 million acre area of forest, 75% of which is on the Oregon side of the border with Washington. The name Umatilla comes from the Umatilla people, which means “water rippling over sand.” Lewis and Clark explored this area in 1805. It was designated as a National Forest in 1908. It is the site of the School Fire, which is the largest fire in the continental United States.
Deschutes National Forest
Deschutes National Forest is a 1.8 million acre forest that, like Fremont National Forest, is on the eastern side of the Cascade Mountain Range. It contains around 389,100 acres of old growth forest. This national forest is home to a rich geological history of the area’s volcanic activity. If you’re visiting this national forest, be sure to check out the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. There, you will see the remains of lava flows and cinder cone volcanoes rising above the trees.
Mt. Hood National Forest
Mt. Hood National Forest is named after Mt. Hood, the stratovolcano found within its boundaries. It is located 62 miles east of Portland, Oregon, extending from the Columbia River Gorge south more than 60 miles. It contains 345,300 acres of old growth forest and is one of the most-visited National Forests in the US with 4 million visitors each year. Visitors can enjoy camping, skiing, biking, and rafting as well as berry picking and mushroom collection, depending on the time of year.
Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest
Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest is a national forest found both in California and Oregon. Once separate, the Rogue River National Forest and the Siskiyou National Forest were combined in 2004. The National Forest is comprised of 1.8 million acres of forest. During the second world war, a Japanese plane attempted to start a forest fire by bombing this national forest. The fire started by the bombing was put out by several forest rangers.
Malheur National Forest
Malheur National Forest was established by President Teddy Roosevelt in 1908. The word “Malheur” means “misfortune” in French. It is 1.4 million acres located in the Blue Mountains of eastern Oregon. There are 312,000 acres of old growth forest. Other portions of the National Forest are used, under guidance of the U.S. Forest Service, for timber, gold mining, and cattle grazing. Malheur National Forest is home to the world’s largest organism, an mushroomed called Armillaria solidipes that spans 2,200 acres.
Willamette National Forest
The Willamette National Forest is found right in the middle of the state in the Cascade Mountain Range. It is almost 1.7 million acres total, making it one of the largest National Forests in the United States. This National Forest receives between 80 and 150 inches of precipitation every year. Rivers that flow out of this forest provide drinking water to the cities of Salem, Eugene, Corvallis, and Albany, as well as many smaller towns. The National Forest contains 1,500 miles of streams and 375 lakes.
Umpqua National Forest
Umpqua National Forest is also found in Oregon’s Cascade Range due south of the Willamette National Forest. It is one of the smaller National Forests in Oregon, only 983,000 acres. Several indigenous tribes resided in this national forest, including the Umpqua, Yoncolla, and the Southern Molala. These tribes were present when Mount Mazama erupted 7,000 years ago, forming the iconic Crater Lake. Umpqua National Forest was designated in 1907.
Ochoco National Forest
Ochoco National Forest is located in the Ochoco Mountains, situated in central Oregon. It is in total 850,000 acres and is known for geological oddities. Visitors to this national forest are able to enjoy hiking, fishing, camping, hunting, horseback riding, stargazing, birding, rock hounding, kayaking, and rock climbing.
Siuslaw National Forest
Siuslaw is a coastal National Forest designated in 1908. It is the smallest National Forest on this list at only 630,000 acres. It runs along Oregon’s central coast between Coos Bay and Tillamook. It contains Mary’s Meak, the highest peak in Oregon’s coastal range, standing at 4,097 feet. There are three designated wilderness areas within the forest. The forest is significant for its aquatic environments. It is home to marine shores, streams, and 1,200 miles of river.