Stops on a summer ramble from Portland, OR to Casper, WY?
June 14, 2017 1:47 PM   Subscribe

On our way to see the eclipse in August, our family will fly into Portland and take about 10 days to get to Casper, Wyoming. We've booked nights in Cascade Locks, the Dalles, Boise, Yellowstone, Cooke City, and Cody. What should we stop and see along the way? What will help us understand the history and cultures of the areas we pass through?
posted by underthehat to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Craters Of The Moon park, I found surprisingly interesting. It'll be beastly hot in August, I'm sure, but still maybe worth a drive through if you're passing?
posted by The otter lady at 2:13 PM on June 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

Because of the consistent, reliable winds howling through the Columbia River gorge, Hood River, Oregon is one of the top destinations in the world for windsurfing/kiteboarding etc. You don't have to do it, but by all means stop at Pfriem Brewing which is right on the banks of the Columbia, and have lunch with some world-class beers (seriously, Belgians have flown over here to present them with awards) while watching people rip. Granted, it's not cultural in the 'ancient' sense, but the town is ideally situated for recreation both on the mountain and on the river, and it's booming because of it. Cutesy, very walkable downtown area with lots of local shops too.
posted by rodeoclown at 2:35 PM on June 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

I interned at Fort Caspar in Casper while in grad school a couple of decades ago, and one of the most affecting things for me was seeing the ruts left by wagons along the Oregon Trail.
posted by telophase at 3:21 PM on June 14, 2017

See evidence of the Missoula floods (10 times the flow of the Amazon, 15,000 years ago) at the Dry Falls and Channelled Scablands.

They've located some of Lewis and Clark's campsites from the mercury in the laxatives they used.
posted by at at 3:36 PM on June 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

The first half or so of your trip is basically following the route salmon take up the Columbia and Snake rivers that was central to tribal culture in the Northwest for thousands of years -- you might find it interesting to read a little bit about that ecological cycle and the recovery efforts that are ongoing.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:17 PM on June 14, 2017

For history, I thoroughly enjoyed Undaunted Courage (story of the Lewis and Clark expedition). I also recommend Astoria which occurs a few years later and points out some of the problems that the L&C expedition caused for later travelers. Both books point out the massive logistical challenges people faced getting to the West Coast in the early 1800s.
posted by elmay at 7:11 PM on June 14, 2017

You can follow the L&C Trail by traversing the area on HWY 12. There's some interpretive signs along the way and the scenery is beautiful. You can end up on US 90 and then head to Yellowstone via the lovely Gallatin Valley
posted by humboldt32 at 7:34 PM on June 14, 2017

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument? But it's gonna be pretty hot in August (as will be just about anything in Oregon that's east of the Cascades..)
posted by Nerd of the North at 7:34 PM on June 14, 2017

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument? But it's gonna be pretty hot in August (as will be just about anything in Oregon that's east of the Cascades..)

And crowded during the week or so around the eclipse -- there are only a couple of roads in and out, and they will clog up with traffic. I'm not saying not to go, just to expect a very different experience than in a normal year.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:39 PM on June 14, 2017

Thanks, everyone-- I think we'll be too far south for the Lewis and Clark stuff, but I hope we can see Craters of the Moon, windsurfers, and some ruts at least.

I'm excited and apprehensive to see what the crowds are like. I read somewhere that an estimated 10 million people are traveling into the eclipse path that day, which frankly seems rather low. I hope there's enough food and water for us all!
posted by underthehat at 3:43 PM on June 15, 2017

You can take a tour of Bonneville Dam - a lot of history is on display there, and in August the viewing window into the fish ladder should be really exciting and full of fish. It's free!

There's a fascinating plaque and story at Starvation Creek (although not much else - a nice 10 minute pit stop to stretch your legs and have a good chuckle maybe).

Take the Historic Colombia River Highway and stop at the waterfalls.

Drive across the Bridge of the Gods, and maybe stop in at Skamania Lodge for a really nice salmon chowder.
posted by slagheap at 9:10 PM on June 15, 2017

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