I recently took a week long trip to Oregon with my father, and I received some help/suggestions from this community. I thought this fit better in its own thread due to the misleading title of my other thread (http://www.travellerspoint.com/forum.cfm?thread=82376). I'm planning on uploading a link to photos from the trip later in the week.
Here is the summary of the trip and some other thoughts:
(Trip took place in one of the last weeks of September)
Day 1 - Portland to Hood River along the Columbia River Gorge
- Flew into Portland around lunchtime
- Went to REI in Clackamas Town Center and grabbed a lunch at the Ram Restaurant and Brewery
- Hiked Multnomah Falls (http://www.oregon.com/attractions/multnomah_falls). Went all the way to the top. Cool but a bit touristy.
- Drove along the Columbia River Gorge... gorgeous.
- Stayed overnight in the Hood River area.
- Dinner at a local pizza place near Walmart (I've had better pizza... not bad though).
Day 2 - Hood to Bend
- Went into the Mt. Hood National Forest and hiked to the summit of Tom, Dick, and Harry Mtn (took the Mirror Lake trail) and continued on a less traveled trail over to the Ski Bowl West. Normally you retrace your steps on the Mirror Lake Trail... I'd recommend doing that. The Ski Bowl didn't add much to the hike aside from distance (though there were wild huckleberries that were delicious). Somewhere between 6-8 miles round trip. The view from the summit was awesome. You can see several different peaks (great panorama) from the top including Hood (obviously), Jefferson, and a few others.
- Checked out Mt. Hood lodge (where part of The Shining was filmed) afterward for a snack and brew. Neither of us were thoroughly impressed... could very well be because we were tired. Lots of people think it's a cool stop.
- Drove a few hours to Bend, OR. Very very cool trip. Really shows off the diversity of Oregon. You find yourself moving from dense forest to desert in seemingly minutes. Stopped at a few pullouts to take pictures.
- Ate dinner at Anthony's Restaurant (Old Mill) at the ... a bit pricey, but the salmon was excellent.
Day 3 - Golf in Bend
- Went golfing at Lost Tracks Golf Club. The course was in excellent condition and was very playable (I'm a high 80's to mid 90's golfer... score... not temp). View of snowcap mountains off the second and third tees... really cool. Dad had some connection at the course so we played for free (didn't have to decide whether greens fees were worth it. Not sure what the greens fees are). Really nice staff and had a good lunch.
- Dinner at Greg's Grill (Old Mill). Really cool setting/environment, great food, decent prices. I'd recommend checking it out.
Day 4 - Sister's Wilderness
- Set off to hike Alder Springs in the early AM. It ended up being closed due to forrest fires, so we ventured over to Sister's Wilderness. Glad it ended up this way. We hiked the Tam McArthur Rim Trail per the center's recommendation, and it was one of the highlights of the trip. Fantastic hike along the mountain rim. Great photo ops.
- Ate lunch at Slick's Que Co (BBQ) in Sisters. Tasted awesome after the hike.
- Dinner at Pastini Pastaria in Bend (Old Mill) - Pasta was pretty good. Not extraordinary but good.
Day 5 - Crater Lake National Park
- Set off for Crater Lake (a day earlier than expected. Rain was coming, and we wanted to hit Crater Lake with good weather). This was one of the highlights of the trip for sure. I was a bit skeptical given all the hype, but it definitely lived up to expectations. Absolutely gorgeous.
- Hiked the Mt. Scott trail during the early afternoon - great photo ops
- Grabbed a snack at the café
- Opted for Watchman Trail (still in Crater Lake... a shorter/easier hike). We hiked to the top and waited for the sunset. I got some fantastic photos... smoke from fires in the distance, and the scenery just caught fire (not literally) with the sunset.
- Stayed in a "rustic" cabin near Prospect called Union Creek Resort... middle of nowhere. Ate at the only restaurant called Beckie's Café. Great pie.
Day 6 - To the Coast - Highway 101
- After grabbing breakfast at Beckie's again, we headed off to Bandon on the coast
- Stopped in Bandon and took a walk down to the beach. Really neat rock formations and such. I wish we would have waited for the sunset here (instead of Charleston a little further up the coast).
- Ate lunch at the Bandon Dunes golf resort (Dad had played there before). Absolutely gorgeous course from what I saw. REALLY expensive greens fees though, which we knew in advance (over $300 easy...). I would like to play the course sometime... after I make my millions I guess...
- Checked in at Coos Bay (stayed at the Red Lion) and headed to Charleston to catch the sunset. Cool area, though I wasn't overly impressed. Like I said, I wish we would have stayed in Bandon.
- Grabbed a late dinner at Benetti's in Coos Bay. Pretty good Italian, and pretty good prices. Unlimited soup, spaghetti, and bread is a possibility... you could definitely stuff yourself without emptying the wallet.
Day 7 - Up 101
- Went up a few miles north and ate a pretty awesome breakfast at Pancake Mill Restaurant.
- Stopped at the Oregon Dunes NRA and explored the dunes on four-wheelers. This is definitely the way to experience the dunes in my opinion... really cool experience, though the atmosphere might be a lot different with more people. We saw maybe a handful of people the whole time.
- Stopped at the Sea Lion's Cave... don't recommend that. Really commercialized and no animals. It made for a good joke the rest of the trip though... I suppose that was worth the $20
- Heceta Head Lighthouse (if you've seen a lighthouse on the cover of an Oregon magazine, this is the one) - hiked the Heceta Head Trail (trailhead north of the lighthouse). A really cool hike... unique. Dense vegetation, rain forrest-esque in portions, really cool looking trees, and you pop out of the forrest head level with the lighthouse. Definitely one of the trip highlights.
- From there weather got crappy, and we were running out of time to get to Portland. We ventured a bit further up 101, and headed over to Portland where we flew out the next morning.
Final thoughts/Things I'd do differently: (Note: Almost all of these things relate to wanting more time to see things)
- I might split the trip up into two separate trips... the coast on one trip and the rest of Oregon (Hood, Bend, Crater Lake) on another. We had a bit more car time than both of us would have liked (2 hours here, 3 hours there, 45 minutes there). The drives are interesting though.. not like cornfields... More thoughts relating below.
- I might spend a full day along the Columbia River Gorge. I might suggest flying in to Portland, staying the night and getting a fresh start in the morning. We barely got a taste if the gorge... looked like there could have been some cool things to see
- I would have liked another day in the Bend area or Sister's Wilderness. One more hike would have satisfied... I think.
- Another half/full day in Crater Lake would have been perfect. I wanted to hike the Garfield trail and also the the trail that takes you down to the water.
- I might not have planned out hotels beforehand... there were a lot of places to stay along the way. It kind of goes both ways... structure is good, yet structure can be restricting. Planning ahead might keep you from ending up in a shady motel, though.
- I'm not sure how to best do the coast. I might suggest doing the coast on a completely separate trip... start in San Fran or Portland and end at the other. We missed some cool things south and north of where we entered/exited Highway 101. Doing the whole coast in a trip would allow you to see all the sites, and you could catch the redwoods. The coast was pretty cool... so if you two trips is out of the question, at least go experience it a bit. Oh yeah. Skip the Sea Lion Cave.
Overall a fantastic trip... saw a lot of things I'd never seen, got to take some really cool pictures, got some decent exercise, played golf, quality time with dad, and ate some great food. Go see Oregon.
[ Edit: Edited on 28-Sep-2011, at 15:34 by loeschg ]