1. Soak up the culture of the city of Portland
Driving is the easiest and most scenic way to explore Beaver State. Fly to Portland International Airport, collect your rental car, and in less than 30 minutes you can explore the eclectic streets of Oregon’s largest city. Located on the Columbia and Willamette rivers, in the shadow of Mount Hood, the eco-city of Portland is home to thriving arts, theater and music venues. The city is also known for its parks, bridges, bike paths, microbreweries and cafes.
Here, a clear choice has been made to think smaller. Farmers’ markets, local shops and cafes take precedence over large chains, and connecting them all is a large network of cycle paths. Portland is a cyclist’s dream, where you can happily cycle from the stylish boutiques of the Pearl District to the world’s largest independent bookstore (Powell’s Books), to one of America’s oldest art museums in one afternoon.
Be sure to join one of the street food bike tours that unveil America’s âFood Cart Capitalâ before finishing, fully drunk, at the famous Voodoo Donut.
One of the biggest surprises is how green Portland is. The arboretums, parks and peaceful Japanese-style garden of iconic Washington State Park set the soul for the blooming of the International Rose Test Garden, home to some 10,000 rose bushes. While a hike to the historic Pittock Mansion for views of a town set against snow-capped ridges is equally striking.
2. Taste the Oregon Wine Country
The Willamette Valley spans three mountain ranges south of Portland. In the late 1960s, when the first Pinot Noir grapes were planted in its volcanic soil, no one knew if they would take any. It is now the land of pure wine, with endless wine tours, cellar tastings and a thriving culinary scene from field to fork.
The valley is 240 km long and has some 500 wine estates. The eye of an expert is invaluable here, although older family producers, such as Eyrie and Ponzi wineries, are worth a visit to gain insight into the development of the region.
3. Explore Klamath Falls
Further south, the town of Klamath Falls sits on the edge of a vast wilderness. Boundless spruce forests are broken only by iris blue lakes, pumice plains, and the relics of volcanic eruptions that aeons ago ravaged southern Oregon’s border regions.
Hikers should start at Crater Lake National Park, formed almost 8,000 years ago by a collapsing volcano. Stroll through ponderosa pine forests filled with elk, the sheer cliffs of the Pinnacles Trail, or descend to the shore where boat trips scour the cobalt waters of America’s deepest lake (592m).
It’s not the only wild day here. Klamath Falls is surrounded by half a dozen wildlife refuges as well as the craggy peaks of the Cascades. Among the most Challenging walks can be found near Mt McLoughlin (2,894m), a challenging but rewarding 17km hike from Butte Falls worth every stop for the view of Crater Lake National Park.
4. Paddle the south coast
From Klamath Falls, head west and you’ll discover 584 km of rocky coastline, hidden bays, and quaint fishing villages where crab is king. But the biggest sites are found offshore.
The wild and warm beaches of the south are a good place to start. Here, kayaks ply the estuarine waters of Coos Bay under the shade of bald eagles hovering above their heads, or pass the coastal hills and marine arches of Port Orford Heads National Park to the harbor seal birthing areas. You might even spy on migrating gray whales, although boat trips further north in Depoe Bay offer more reliable sightings of sea giants in spring and winter.
Among the more adventurous routes is the Samuel H Boardman State Scenic Corridor, a secluded and steep coastal strip where paddlers pass tall arches and thick spruce boulders. The four southern rivers – Rogue, Chetco, Umpqua, and Coquille – that flow into the ocean also provide real boating opportunities in Canada. These rivers meander hundreds of kilometers of cutthroat ridges, black bear fishing grounds and ancient forests. While Chetco Gorge may be better suited for rafting and kayaking, the quieter Coquille and Rogue immerse you in wilderness as raw as it still is.
5. Reach the heights at Hood River
As well as being a gateway to the vast Columbia River Gorge, Hood River is famous for windsurfers, whose sails can be spied on its breeze-blown waters year-round like confetti caught in a updraft.
On land, cycle paths crisscross the steep rocky paths for some of the region’s toughest mountain bikes. The hike offers a calmer approach to the charms of the canyon. From walks at Wahclella Falls, Elk Cove or taking the Klickitat Trail (50 km), which traces the old Spokane-Seattle railway line, see the forest at its wildest, especially when fall colors its oak trees. in orange.
The biggest challenge here is Mount Hood (3,425m), Oregon’s highest peak and one of the most popular climbs in the world. In winter, its meadows are filled with skiers and snowshoers. But when not snow-capped (July to October), high mountain trails wrap the slopes and foothills, revealing wildflowers, waterfalls, ancient forest, and unforgettable views of the iconic and ubiquitous summit of the mountain. ‘Oregon.
Do you feel inspired?
For more information and inspiration, and to start planning your dream Oregon road trip, visit the official America As You Like It website.