Day 1: Arrive Portland
Arriving in Portland, you’ll be joining a long line of English visitors who have traveled here since Sir Francis Drake landed in 1579. Some consider Portland to have the best quality of life of any US city and in fact, it was recently voted North America’s Best Big City by Money Magazine. Other accolades bestowed on Portland include the country’s best culinary destination, America’s most sustainable city and more.
The culturally rich downtown is surrounded by small, intriguing neighborhoods, each with a unique heritage and flavor. You’ll find the arts, nightlife and fashion thriving in The Pearl District, the cultural heart of downtown. Nob Hill has plenty of boutique shops in which to take advantage of Oregon’s lack of sales tax. All are set against the magnificent backdrop of Mt. Hood, which is part of a bioregion that is very distinct from the rest of the American West. It has the world’s largest “cold jungle” or temperate rain forest, alongside other wild landscapes, punctuated by Victorian villages and small seaport towns.
Day 2: Seaside
A short drive from Portland today puts you on Oregon’s Pacific Coast Highway, where three glorious days will gently unfold as you drive south enjoying the picturesque coastal scenery, lush evergreen forests and quaint coastal towns. The beauty and serenity of the Pacific strand on 3½ mile Cannon Beach is unprecedented. It is regularly voted one of America’s Best Beaches. Seaside, once referred to by prosperous families as the “oldest fashionable summer resort on the Oregon Coast,” has been an upper Northwest beach playground for more than 150 years.
Day 3: Newport
Today you can enjoy more of the unspoiled beauty and sparsely settled Oregon coast as you head towards Newport, nestled between the Coast Mountains, Pacific Ocean and Yaquina Bay. Visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium, the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse and the unique collection of shops at Aquarium Village, which includes a resident glass blower. Bayfront is a working waterfront with more shops, art galleries, chowder houses, restaurants and attractions housed in turn-of-the-century store fronts.
Day 4: Brookings
As you reach mid-coast, the landscape changes dramatically with the impressive Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, which includes 32,000 acres of shifting sand dunes up to 385 feet high in a Sahara Desert like atmosphere. A bit farther south, you can enjoy tidepooling at Sunset Bay and Cape Arago State Park. From November through May, you can watch as whales head south for California.
Day 5: Crater Lake
No other place in America matches the dramatic beauty of Crater Lake – deep, pure and astoundingly blue. Surrounded by sheer cliffs nearly 2,000 feet high, the lake is the 7th deepest in the world and the deepest in the United States. The violent volcanic explosion that created Crater Lake, when Mount Mazama collapsed some 7,700 years ago, is so recent that the story is still told in Native American legends. The film “Mirror of Heaven” at the Visitors Center tells the whole story.
Day 6: Bend
Today there is an opportunity to travel on Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway, a 66-mile loop through Deschutes National Forest. Halfway between Sun River and Bend, the area’s geologic wonders begin to unfold. Newberry Volcano, an 18-mile caldera containing East and Pauline Lakes, is the country’s largest obsidian flow with many waterfalls. The Lava Lands Visitor Center on Lava Butte provides an excellent orientation to the volcanic landscape and the Trail of Molten Lava.
Day 7: Explore Bend
More of Oregon’s natural beauty and breathtaking views will unfold today if you take the scenic chairlift to the summit of Mt. Bachelor. The Deschutes River Trail through Bend passes a beautiful series of cascading falls. Smith Rock State Park is an internationally known destination for rock climbers. Hiking trails along the Crooked River deliver grand vistas of the canyon. Other activities here include a river float, wine tasting, fishing, mountain biking, golf and rock collecting.
Day 8: Cascade Locks
Another series of scenic roads takes you north to the Oregon border today. No visit to the area would be complete without experiencing the Columbia River Gorge Discovery Center, with its 50,000 square feet of exhibits, art, Native American and immigrant crafts. Free guided tours of The Dalles historic area take you past the stunning 1897 St. Peter Landmark, the Baldwin Saloon, old Ft. Dalles and Pulpit Rock. The Hood River area is also particularly well known for its great wineries. Once the site of a boom town called Whiskey Flats, Cascade Locks is today a welcoming village with stunning views, engaging museums, scenic drives and exciting outdoor activities.
Day 9: Portland
On your return to Portland, enjoy the drive along the Columbia River Historic and Scenic Highway with some spectacular scenery, the highest waterfalls and the best views of the Gorge. The phenomenal 620-foot-high Multnomah Falls is only one of dozens of waterfalls that dot the roadway. Some consider the natural beauty of this road one of the best, if not the best, in the US. It’s a wonderful way to conclude your inspiring trip through Oregon.
Day 10: Depart Portland