Oregon is home to 11 national forests, 21 national wildlife refuges and 361 state parks for visitors to explore the abundant and diverse wildlife that call the state home at any given time of the year. The Oregon coastline expands for 363 miles with breathtaking views at every point overlooking the Tufted Puffins and Common Murre that migrate here in springtime. Plus, the coast is home to a coastal rainforest full of animals and plants to explore among the miles of trails and beaches. Make sure to bring your hiking gear, binoculars and camera and check out one of these top five spots to see wildlife in Oregon.
The park is full of trilliums and quadliums, white flowers with three and four pedals, among other plants native to the Pacific Northwest. Plus, Tryon Creek is one of the only streams in the area with steelhead trout, listed as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act.
Designated as the first wildlife refuge west of the Mississippi River, Three Arch Rocks National Wildlife Refuge is one of Oregon’s best landmarks. The 15-acre refuge consists of three large rocks and six smaller ones that provide a habitat for the state’s largest breeding colony of Tufted Puffins. The black and white bird looks half penguin and half duck and has a vibrant orange beak that makes it stand out. Common Murre, a penguin-looking bird, and the Steller sea lion also call this spot home. During the spring, more than 100,000 Common Murre visit the refuge to nest, a good time for visitors to get their earful of bird calls.
On the north Oregon Coast, the 2,484-acre Oswald West State Park provides the perfect oasis for surfers, hikers and beachgoers alike. The secluded sandy beach is an ideal place for a picnic before taking a hike in one of the two prominent headlands, Cape Falcon and Neah-kah-nie Mountain. There are miles of trails that highlight a better view of the Pacific Ocean the further you climb. Plus, the park features a coastal rainforest with low-growing ferns, salal and salmonberry growing at the food of massive western red cedar and Sitka Spruce trees.
President Theodore Roosevelt first established the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge as the Lake Malheur Bird Reservation in 1908. It was the 19th of 51 wildlife refuges created during his presidency. The land makes up Malheur, Mud and Harney Lakes and serves as a preserve and breeding area for native birds. Everything from the black-chinned hummingbird to the black-backed woodpecker to MacGillivary’s warbler have been spotted at this spot. Word to the wise: don’t forget your binoculars when visiting the refuge.
Just outside of Portland, Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge is one of a few urban national wildlife refuges in the country. The refuge makes up less than 1% of the 712 square mile watershed located in the floodplain of the Tualatin River; however, its diversity of habitats supports most of the watershed’s wildlife. In spring, guests can expect to see a variety of migratory songbirds that use the refuge as a breeding and nesting ground. A large number of waterfowl such as cackling Canada geese — in some years up to 50,000 have been observed in one day — visit the refuge to feast on the seeds and plants grown in the summer.