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We plan a northwest vacation in June. Will fly to Bosie, Idaho and then drive over to Columbia River. Please advise on things to see, places to stay and things to do.

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    Hi Carol. I have traveled around that area some and I can offer a few suggestions. If you have time, drive east from Boise and visit the Craters of the Moon National Monument. It is an interesting volcanic site with cinder cones and lava fields. Be prepared for wind!!
    If you want to be adventuresome, drive north to Enterprise and Joseph, Oregon and take the road out to the Hells Canyon Overlook called Hat Point. The road, when we did it, was dirt. If you go, be cautious about going down into the canyon. It is steeper than it looks and distances are deceiving because the rock is not multicolored like the Grand Canyon.
    Near Baker City, Oregon, there is a museum devoted to the Oregon Trail. It is very well done and I think you would find it interesting to see an authentic exhibition that describes the harsh conditions of the Westward Migration.
    As you get closer to Portland, Mount St. Helens and Mount Ranier are to your north. St. Helens has a good view point and the explosion of the mountain is well told. Mount Rainier is awesome, almost too large to really comprehend, because it rises 14,000 feet straight out of the ground. Even at Paradise at 6,000 feet on the south flank, the top is more than 8,000 feet directly above you.

    In Portland, there are some beautiful gardens in Washington Park, which is located to the west of the central business district. One of the gardens is the International Rose Test Garden. I doubt if you will see more beautiful roses anywhere. Also in the same park is a Japanese garden that is very well done.

    From Portland, I recommend driving south to Crater Lake National Park. It is a gorgeous lake set in a dormant volcano. From Crater Lake, cut over to the Oregon coast and drive north. The coast is spectacular. Some of it is made up of rocky headlands where old lava flows meet the ocean, and some of it made up of wide, sandy beaches. Near the village of Yachats there is a rocky promontory that rises 1,000 feet directly out of the Pacific.

    If you have time, I also endorse driving south to California and taking in some of the redwood groves near Crescent City. From there you can drive north along the Oregon coast. I suggest driving it from south to north so that the sun is not in your face all day!!

    Olympic National Park is to your north from Portland. I was there once, but it was only mildly interesting to me. I think there are other sites to visit that are more intersting.

    I do not recommend driving from Boise to Sisters, Oregon by taking the route through eastern Oregon that goes by the John Day National Monuent, unless you have loads of time. The road is slow, isolated, and the landscape is very, very hilly. Most of it is quite arid, so vegetation is sparse, although there are trees. Southern Oregon, southeast of Bend, is a desert. Around Bend, however, there are some very nice mountains to view.

    The only motel I can recommend is/was called the Fireside Motel. It is/was located in Yachats. It sits on a rocky headland that juts into the Pacific. You can hear and see the waves pounding on the shore. If you get one of the second floor rooms, you get a little better view.

    There is a lot to see and do out that way, and I hope you have a good time.

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    Thank you so much for all the helpful hints. Im exploring those options! Could you tell me on the columbia river drive, should you take the loop south at hood river and come back up. is that a real pretty area? How long does it take to drive the columbia river? Thanks

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    We drove the south bank toward Portland both times and stuck mainly to the Interstate except to branch off to see some of the recommended sights. As I recall it took us about 5-6 hours from Baker City where we stopped to see the Oregon Train Museum, and a couple of other places in the area.
    To be honest about it, the river is dammed, so there are no rapids to see.
    The view is ok, but I have seen better.
    People seem to rave about the Gorge, but I could not get all that worked up over it. It is scenic enough, but I prefered the waves pounding the rocks on the Oregon Coast.

    We enjoyed the fruit orchards more.

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    Stop off at the Baker City visitor center and pick up loads of brochures for the long drive into the the Gorge.
    From Boise to Portland, it takes around 8 hours.
    To get south of Mt. Hood; from Hood River head south down Hwy 35 which will connect with Hwy 26 just before Government Camp. The Brew Pub in Gov't Camp is a good place to eat, but at that time of year the place (and Timberline) is overrun with Snowboard Camp kids. Drive west on Hwy 26 and stop off at the Oregon Candy Farm just west of Sandy. (The best chocolate in the World.) In Gresham, follow the signs to Hwy 84 and that will bring you into Portland. This route though will bypass Multnomah Falls.
    For an interesting day trip, drive north to Castle Rock on 1-5, and go see the Mt. St. Helens interpretive centers. Woodland, has a great visitors center, and Woodland also has a little hamburger place called the Eager Beaver, the best hamburger and milkshakes on I-5 (but it doesn't look like much from the outside).
    I personally would avoid the trip to Crater lake, too long of a trip. Go to the coast instead, or visit the wineries and farmstands in the Willamette Valley. There are also several Farmers Markets in Portland. I like the Vancouver Farmers Market, because they also allow some arts and crafts, as well as great strawberries in June.
    Hope that helps.

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