The west coast, spanning from Washington State in the north down to California, is full of spectacular natural wonders. If you feel you’ve already seen many of the most famous ones, including the Hoh Rainforest and Multnomah Falls, this is the article for you. Here are 7 lesser-known options to add to your next trip.
1. Thor’s Well
Head over to Yachats, Oregon to see Thor’s Well. This sinkhole offers the striking illusion that the ocean is draining into it. In reality, Thor’s Well consists of a hole in the roof of what was once likely a sea cave, allowing water to wash into it and back out to the ocean. The most spectacular time to see this attraction is at high tide, though it should be noted that the area nearby the well can be dangerous and slippery – it’s best to view this wonder from a safe distance.
2. The Slot
Located in southern California, the entirety of Anza Borrego State Park is amazing to take in. One of its most stunning features, though, is The Slot. The Slot is – as the name implies – a siltstone slot canyon. You can explore it yourself by heading out to the trail of the same name. The Slot Trail is fairly beginner-friendly, coming in at about 2 miles in length and offering minimal elevation gain. The payoff is incredible as well. It should be noted that Anza Borrego State Park is located in a desert, so if you’re planning to visit during the summer months, you may want to head out early to beat the heat as well as making sure you bring plenty of water.
3. Palouse Falls
Palouse Falls is the official state waterfall of Washington State. Falling a magnificent 200 feet, it’s also one of the larger waterfalls in the state. Despite this, its fairly remote location in Eastern Washington has kept it from becoming quite as well known as cascades such as Snoqualmie Falls. If you do find yourself passing through the Eastern portion of the state during your trip though, a visit to see the gorgeous falls is worth going a bit off the beaten path.
4. The Neskowin Ghost Forest
The Neskowin Ghost Forest truly lives up to its eerie name. This area features preserved spruce stumps dotting the beach, once making up a looming ancient forest. It’s thought that the forest was destroyed by an earthquake or other large disaster, simultaneously wiping out the trees while also burying their stumps and allowing them to be preserved. The stumps remained buried until a series of storms in the late 90s. Nowadays, head over at low tide to see what remains of this ancient forest, nowadays covered in barnacles.
5. Subway Cave
Head over to Lassen National Forest to check out this 1/3 of a mile-long lava tube. This is a great option for those who’ve enjoyed seeing some more well-known caves such as Ape Cave or Crystal Cave, as well as those looking to check out a cave for the first time. Subway Cave doesn’t have any lighting inside, so you’ll want to bring a bright flashlight on your excursion.
6. Dry Falls
Dry Falls offers views of awe-inspiring geologic formations, as well as an interesting and rich history. The area was formed by massive lava flows millions of years ago, and nowadays features breathtaking basalt cliffs. The area can be viewed by a lookout point at the tops of the cliffs. You can also explore several of the trails and lakes inside the canyon, many of which offer fishing and kayaking opportunities.
7. The Painted Hills
These hills in Oregon look more like a painting or a colorful dream than actual hills, and they’re sure to make a memorable visit. The hills earned their name from the swirling red, orange, and yellow colors they feature. The perfect place to take some one-of-a-kind photos, as well as spend an afternoon enjoying fresh our, those traveling through Oregon will definitely want to consider adding the Painted Hills to their itinerary.
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