Scenic Drives in Oregon

Old Aug 14th, 2010, 07:59 PM
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Scenic Drives in Oregon

We are starting our trip in Portland Oregon and have approximately 7 days to tour around. We want to do scenic drives, no highways. We have covered the coastal portion of Oregon pretty thoroughly on a previous trip so would prefer to visit some of the other flora and fauna that this state so abundantly has.

Thanks in advance for your assistance.
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Old Aug 14th, 2010, 08:48 PM
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You must drive east on OR-30 or WA-14 on the Columbia Gorge. The views are breathtaking, especially as you approach Mount Hood.

Mount Saint Helens' dramatic surroundings 30 years after the last major eruption also makes for an interesting drive near Portland, and you could continue just a little further to Mount Rainier.

Or head south along the West Cascades Scenic Byway ( which ends moments away from Crater Lake, the Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway, and more amazing signs of past volcanic activity.

Happy travels.

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Old Aug 14th, 2010, 08:53 PM
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If you like geology, or wide open high desert, the are around Bend is great. Some folks like the recreational motor boating near there. we don't go in for that. We like driving from Klammath Falls up to Crater lake, then back east to 395(?) and north to Bend. In Bend, one of our favorite things is the High Desert Museum (google them). It is a very well run place with history, art, live animals all in a beautiful museum grounds setting. But also the lava cave and other interesting geology-related trails and sites around. The Deschutes brewery is there. not sure if you can take a tour but the brew pub is okay.
The Moon Guide to Oregon , I recall included some great roadside attractions and scenic pullouts.
Next time I head that way, I'd like to drive through Sisters as I hear it is beautiful. So you may want to check that region out.
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Old Aug 15th, 2010, 06:21 AM
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What time of year will you be here?

There are so many scenic places here, but without knowing how many places you want to overnight, etc it is hard to give advice. A few more details would help
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Old Aug 15th, 2010, 06:59 AM
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My favorite drive with Oregon views is WA-14 driving east from Maryhill to Washougal, WA.

A less-visited scenic area of Oregon is the Wallowa Mountains and the towns of Enterprise and Joseph in the NE corner of the state.

A drive on the Lewiston Highway (OR-3), going north from Enterprise, includes a very impressive canyon at the OR/ID border.

If you take OR-3 north, you could include a drive through Washington's Palouse and Walla Walla in a loop back to WA-14.

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Old Aug 15th, 2010, 07:26 AM
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I used to live in Eugene and a drive I would always take visitors on was the McKenzie Pass drive - Highway 242 from Eugene to Sisters. The drive is only about 100 miles long but packed with incredible variety and diversity (this is assuming you're not going in winter - the road is closed in the winter).

It's been maybe 4 or 5 years or so since I last did this drive, but here's what it's like:

If you're going west to east, you first travel along the gorgeous McKenzie River, past hazelnut orchards and small farms. Then as you climb up into the Cascades you go through lovely fir forests, with an understory of rhododendrons, ferns, etc. Stop at the trail to Proxy Falls - it's only about a half-mile or so walk into 2 different waterfalls. Really beautiful falls (a picture of one of them used to be on just about every Sierra Club calendar)

Then continue on up to the pass which is a lava field - looks like a moonscape. (Astronauts used to do some training here, I've been told.) There's a small observation point and a short trail over the lava flows with informational signs. You can see small forest "islands" where the lava missed some parts of land as it flowed. You also have gorgeous views of many of the snow-capped peaks in the Cascades.

Then as you continue down into Sisters, you're in a very different climate zone than the wet fir forest / water falls of the west side of the Cascades. Here on the east side, the vegetation changes to sagebrush and Ponderosa Pine - reminds me of parts of Wyoming (where I also used to live). Just outside the little town of Sisters there is a big llama farm n the side of the road, with gorgeous views of the 3 mountain peaks called the Sisters. You can then continue on to Bend if you wish - it's only about 20 miles away. Camp Sherman is another lovely spot near Sisters - beautiful trails along the Metolius River.

Oh describing all this is actually almost painful - I want to go there right now!
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Old Aug 20th, 2010, 06:43 PM
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Thank you all for the wonderful replies. I am so excited about this trip, you have no idea. Just the thought of cool weather, mountains and clean air makes me dizzy with joy.

So far here is a sketch of our plan, starting in Portland, driving to Mt. Rainier, staying in the Kelso (still looking around for some scenic routes) then going to Crater Lake (staying in Prospect), then driving to Klamath Falls, then to Bend for 2 nights (found a cool place called McMenamins-Old St. Francis School) then returning to Portland for remaining 3 days to do some hiking around that area. It sounds like a lot of places to visit in only 7 days but I am considering this an "appetizer" trip. I am horrible with my maps (luckily husband isn't) but would like to know if the above trip sketch is a little ambitious for the 7 days we have to achieve it.

Again, thank you all for your suggestions and the time you took to reply. I will report back on my trip upon return.
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Old Aug 21st, 2010, 09:19 AM
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I would only suggest Ashland instead of Klamath Falls.
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Old Aug 21st, 2010, 09:48 AM
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You say you want scenic drives and no highways, but you have planned an itinerary that requires a lot of highway driving, that avoids most of Oregon's best scenery, and that has you spending nights in some places many would prefer to avoid on holiday.

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