Portland and beyond!
September 1, 2018 5:42 AM   Subscribe

My wife and I are traveling to Portland in mid September. We are planning on spending 2-3 days in the city and then doing some road tripping for nature adventures. We are definitely going to visit Crater Lake but for the next four days or so after that I need some advice.

1. hang out in the Bend/Cascade Lakes area. Is there enough to do/explore around here? Is the Lava River Cave full of people and/or boring?
2. Go up to Washington and explore Olympic National Park. I just learned about the Hoh rainforest road closure - is there any other way to access this area? Should we save this for another trip?
3. Check out North Cascades National Park in Washington
4. Oregon/Washington coastline road trip.
5. Other

We are interested in kayaking and hikes that are not insanely strenuous. We do not mind a mildly long drive, especially one during which we can stop along the way for small hikes/nature appreciation. Any advice is welcome and ideas not mentioned here will be well received. Am also open to Portland food/drink recommendations!
posted by likeplus to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
If you like Norman Rockwell-esque towns, fly fishing and Shakespeare, I highly recommend Ashland Oregon.
posted by rw at 7:31 AM on September 1, 2018

Unless you have a crazy long time to spend in the area I would rule out the Olympic Peninsula and the North Cascades as either would wipe out two full days of your trip in driving, assuming you have to get back to Portland in the end.

You could spend the rest of your life in the Bend area or on the Oregon coast and never run out of hikes and natural beauty to experience but if you do want to get up into Washington I would suggest a trip to Mt. St. Helens. Truly astonishing natural history and pretty accessible from Portland. The Columbia River Gorge is also worth a visit.
posted by otio at 7:41 AM on September 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

If I were you, I'd do at least part of the North Umpqua Scenic Trail, part of the Rogue Umpqua Scenic Byway. It stops at a bunch of waterfalls and has short hikes. Bonus, there's good food at little places along the way.

Link: https://traveloregon.com/things-to-do/trip-ideas/scenic-drives/rogue-umpqua-scenic-byway/
posted by Temeraria at 7:45 AM on September 1, 2018

If you're down at Crater Lake, you could drive the 4 hours to Port Orford on the south coast, and go sea kayaking with South Coast Tours and (if you're lucky enough to get a spot -- try going on a weekday) camp at first-come-first-served Cape Blanco State Park. There's other places in town to stay as well, camping or hotels, if the park is full.

I also like tidepooling at the frequently-foggy Seal Rock on the north coast, if that fits your schedule.
posted by cnidaria at 8:27 AM on September 1, 2018

I would also pass up Olympic Nat'l Park for this trip; it's a lot of driving and the weather can be iffy.

You like waterfalls? Silver Falls State Park has got you covered, and the hikes are moderate and easy access. Might be a nice stop.

I like Bend. The high desert also tends to be sunnier than the coast, though September shouldn't be bad.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:08 AM on September 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

After you finish hiking, go to Barefoot Sage and have a long, luxurious foot/leg massage. It's a game-changer!
posted by mccxxiii at 9:45 AM on September 1, 2018

Just as a check, you're being unrealistic about time and distance involved in exploring the area. You can't do Crater Lake and Olympic NP or North Cascades in 2 or 3 days.

Silver Falls is a great suggestion.
posted by humboldt32 at 10:15 AM on September 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Yeah. Pick a direction, that’s just too much. A straight bomb from Crater lake to Hoh is like 8 hours with no traffic or stopping (there will be pockets of traffic). I don’t know where you’re from, but that’s like driving from Boston to DC, distance wise.

Bend dovetails into crater lake better, but that’s still a grip of driving.

I personally find hoh more of an experience than crater lake, and it’s quiet-ness is currently under threat. Clearly ymmv. I love the Portland > Astoria > Aberdeen > Hoh route. It’s damn nice.
posted by furnace.heart at 10:40 AM on September 1, 2018

The Columbia Gorge is a short drive away from Portland and is majestic. There are incredible waterfalls and views and a weird replica of Stonehenge in there. A lot of the Gorge burned last year but it’s still amazing. If you want you could continue to Hood River.

Or if you wanted a few days trip you could do Portland to the Gorge, sleep in Hood River, then 4 hours drive to the John Day Fossil Beds, sleep two nights in one of the nearby towns, then four hours to Crater Lake. Spend the night in Ashland, Phoenix or Talent, then take I5 back to Portland the next day.
posted by hungrytiger at 12:07 PM on September 1, 2018

Bend is beautiful and there’s lots to do. In addition to the lava caves:

Smith Rock State Park
High Desert Museum (So much more than a museum)
Sun Country Tours, which includes white water rafting, easy floats through town, and stand-up paddle boarding.
Old Mill District , a cute outdoor mall with pedal carts, bike/skate trails, and a big amphitheater for concerts.
Downtown Bend, a seriously cute area with some excellent restaurants.
Lots of breweries
Horseback riding
Sisters, Oregon - spend a day in the cutest western town ever. Eat at Los Agaves.
posted by Knowyournuts at 1:47 PM on September 1, 2018

Oh, gosh, I mean...Go to wine country if you care at all about that sort of nonsense.

We (the winery I work for- not ME!) have a cute little winery in Salem, and all our neighbors are incredibly nice and make really cool wine and it's just so beautiful there.

(I currently live in CA and am jealous to my bones daily of Willamette Valley. It's magical and charming and fun.)

A day trip could include:

- So you run down I-5, hit Broadway beans in Salem (really great coffee) and then hit Failla Wines, Cristom Vineyards, Bethel Heights and Walter Scott. All in the same area. Bjornson Vineyard is just to the north, and then you will get hungry! Go have a snack and a view at Brooks Winery, then head up to Community Plate for a fantastic Lunch.

Nap in the park.

I can give beer suggestions if you keep heading north...Or more wine suggestions...or food.

I'll stop, in case this is WAY not your bag.

Have fun whatever you do, Oregon is gorgeous and filled with wonderful humans and adventure.
posted by metasav at 5:28 PM on September 1, 2018

I second both the Gorge (and Stonehenge) and going up to Mt St Helens. just north of the replica, there is a spot called Cascade Volcano Viewpoint. Here you can see Mount Hood, Mount Saint Helens, Mount Adams, and Mount Rainer if the sky is clear enough. The whole gorge is covered in waterfalls, so the hiking is pretty and there are short ones available.
posted by soelo at 6:31 PM on September 2, 2018

Near Lava River Cave is Hole in the ground and Crack in the Ground (and Glass Butte), but it will be some travel on gravel roads.
posted by 445supermag at 12:20 PM on September 4, 2018

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