Ask Oregon Questions & Answers

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Where can we fish for spring chinook?

Head to the ocean off the North and Central Coast for wild salmon. Or cast a line at one of the many rivers in northwest Oregon stocked with hatchery chinook. Daily limits are enforced.

Keep in mind that in 2017 chinook fishing is prohibited in parts of the South Coast. Due to a low forecast for chinook salmon returning to the Klamath River, ocean chinook fishing is closed for the season from Humbug Mountain (south of Port Orford) to northern California. This ensures healthy chinook numbers for years to come. And the closure doesn’t apply to coastal rivers and streams, such as the Umpqua River.

Consult ODFW for seasons and limits for specific locations. For more information about 2017 Oregon fishing regulations, see here:

Answered by David Johnson, Ask Oregon Fishing Expert on May 9th, 2017 - Post Your Answer

Can we visit Multnomah Falls and Mt. Hood in the same day?

Driving a loop through the Gorge and up over Mt. Hood is actually a perfect, popular and picturesque day trip from Portland. The total drive time is approximately three hours, so you’ll have time to for multiple stops.

Keep in mind that the Gorge waterfall corridor around Multnomah Falls is extremely popular, especially on a weekend. But, here are some tips to help you beat those crowds and be rewarded with waterfalls and mountain views.

Wake up early and explore the Gorge waterfalls first. I’d recommend a quick drive by-type visit so you can save time. Then head to Hood River for an early lunch.  From Hood River, drive south on Hwy 35 for a scenic drive to the Tamanawas Falls trailhead (the website mentions an impassable landslide, but it’s been cleared).  You will see some other visitors here, but no crowd control needed. The beautiful 5-mile round-trip hike climbs slightly along a bouncy little creek to an impressive 100-foot waterfall with plenty of picture potential. You can even duck in behind the waterfall and enjoy a snack. Afterwards, continue up Hwy 35 to for close-up Mt. Hood views.  Stop anywhere along the way for photos. Finally, jump onto Hwy 26 and stop by at Timberline Lodge for sweeping cascade panoramas, or continue on Hwy 26 for the last hour’s drive back to Portland.

Alternatively, you can skip driving and join a shuttle for guided tours of the area. Happy trails!

Is May a good time for hiking in Southern Oregon?

Thanks for your question! In Southern Oregon, May is an excellent month for hiking, as it’s not too hot yet, but most trails have dried out from spring rain showers. One of my favorites is the Rogue River Trail. This epic trail is 40 miles, following the Wild and Scenic section of the river, but can be an out-and-back of much less, of course. If it’s already warm, opt for the opposite bank of the river, where the Rainie Falls Trail offers more shade. This 3.5-mile hike is perfect for an afternoon activity.

For more shade, consider hiking a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail, where it runs just south of Ashland. From Mt. Ashland’s parking lot (at the ski resort), it’s easy to access the trail, and take it about three miles to the Grouse Gap shelter. You’ll enjoy great views of Mt. Shasta, too!

We also like hiking in the direction of Crater Lake, by Prospect. The Upper Rogue Trail is a good bet on Highway 62, or you can go bouldering at Mill Creek and Avenue of the Boulders. In the late spring, the falls are really rushing! If you go all the way to Crater Lake, head toward Roseburg near the north entrance, and enjoy the ‘waterfalls highway’…there are many stops with short hikes to scenic waterfalls.

If you want to go to the west side of Southern Oregon, you can hike amid the redwoods along the Chetco River near Brookings.

What’s the best time to see sea lion pups?

May and June is typically the birthing and pupping time for Steller sea lions. During this time, the sea lions usually seek offshore rocks, islands and reefs like those at Cape Arago and are less likely to be inside the Sea Lion Caves. You might see nursing pups on the rocky shelf, below the southern viewpoint at Sea Lion Caves. California sea lions are also abundant on the Oregon Coast, but nearly all of these are males. For maximum sea lion activity, winter is the best time to visit Sea Lion Caves. As breeding season approached in spring, the sea lions leave the cave and remain in rookeries and outdoor haul out areas along the Coast until stormy weather in fall has them seek shelter within the cave.

Shore Acres State Park in Coos Bay and Yaquina Head in Newport are great areas for viewpoints that overlook Pacific harbor seal birthing and pupping areas in March and April. It is much more common to see nursing seals and seal pups than sea lions who prefer more isolated haul outs like those at Simpson Reef off Cape Arago.

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on April 20th, 2017 - Post Your Answer

Where should we have our backpacking and fly fishing anniversary getaway?

Backpacking and fly fishing sounds like a great way to celebrate your anniversary! My first recommendation would be the Rogue River. There’s a trail that follows along the river for 40+ miles, with camping areas and even lodging you can reserve if you wanted to have a night of luxury. It’s Wild and Scenic River and is absolutely beautiful — as well as a world-class fly fishing river.

My second recommendation would be the Umpqua River. This gorgeous river is also known for amazing fly fishing and beauty. It has about 70 miles of trail along the river. There could be rhododendron in bloom in early June!

The reason I recommend the Rogue over the Umpqua is that it’s a little bit farther south and may have better weather. We’ve had a huge snow year in Oregon, so I’m not sure how long it will take the trail along the Umpqua to melt out (since it’s at a higher elevation). The two rivers are probably equal in terms of fly fishing and scenery. You really can’t go wrong with either one. Both would have plenty of greenery and rugged mountains as well.

What is great day trip from Eugene?

Have you visited the Oregon Coast? It’s beautiful, and from Eugene it’s an easy one hour drive to Florence, which has all kinds of things to do — giant sand dunes to explore, a historic lighthouse, nice beaches, some pretty hikes. Your kids might like going for dune buggy rides or going sandboarding (like snowboarding, but down sand dunes!). You can visit the Sea Lion Caves or go whale watching. Or just walk on the beach, which is one of my favorite things to do when I go to the Coast. Eugene, Cascades & Coast has some great ideas about exploring the region of the coast that’s just west of Eugene.

You could also head the other direction from Eugene — east into the Cascades — and hit a couple of easy but beautiful waterfall hikes. Sahalie & Koosah falls are easy to get to and not very strenuous, but gorgeous. You can hike to both waterfalls from the same trailhead, With all the water we’ve had this winter and spring, the flow over the falls should be spectacular this time of year! Takoda’s Restaurant in the little town of Rainbow is a great place to go for lunch if you head that direction.

You could also head north to the Woodburn Tulip Festival. It’s only open at this time of year, and though the blooming season is often over by late April, this season it has been extended to May 7, so if it’s something that you’re interested in, you should take the chance to do it now! You’ll be able to see acres and acres of gorgeous tulips and get some great photos. (Although be warned, it can be busy on the weekends)

I hope you have a great visit to Eugene this weekend and you get some good exploring in!

Where can I fish near old-growth trees?

On the Oregon Coast, Oswald West State Park between Manzanita and Cannon Beach has some nice old-growth trees. The closest rivers with good fishing are the Necanicum River to the north and the Nehalem and North Fork Nehalem rivers to the south.

In Greater Portland, Oxbow Park along the Sandy River has old-growth trees and has a lot of good fishing access.

Answered by David Johnson, Ask Oregon Fishing Expert on March 29th, 2017 - Post Your Answer

Where would you recommend to stay: Lincoln City or Pacific City?

If you want a more scenic coastal setting, choose Pacific City. If you want more tourism attractions and hospitality options, choose Lincoln City.

Pacific City is a small town and is picturesque with the beach overlooking Cape Kiwanda and the offshore Haystack Rock. It has limited lodging choices. The go-to place is the Inn at Cape Kiwanda, but they also operate the Cottages at Kiwanda, a luxury oceanfront property. The Pelican Pub and Brewery is located nearby and the area is popular with a younger crowd and surfers. Vehicles are allowed on the beach in Pacific City.

Lincoln City is a larger community with extensive choices in lodging from oceanfront resorts to hotel chains along the highway and budget choices. For oceanfront, consider The Coho, Pelican Shores Inn, Surftides or the Inn at Spanish Head. For something a little more boutique, consider Starfish Manor or Shearwater Inn. For something funky, try the Historic Anchor Inn. There are some great restaurants in Lincoln City and no vehicles on the beach.

Pick your style.

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on March 21st, 2017 - Post Your Answer

What are sightseeing activities between Portland and Eugene for non-city folk?

That’s a big area but there are a lot of options. It’s good that you say you’re not big city people, because the Willamette Valley is short on big cities but big on quirky smallish cities and towns.

Here are a few broad ideas about things you might like to see and do as you make your way from Portland to Eugene:

Wine/Beer Tasting: The Willamette Valley is particularly known for having wonderful wine, craft beer, and great food. In fact, it was named the #1 wine region in the world this year! If you’d like to do some wine tasting on your way down, I’d recommend taking Highway 99W south from Portland to Eugene. It will take you a little longer than staying on Interstate 5, but you’ll be driving right through the heart of the wine region. A middle of the week trip will be a good time to do wine tasting too, as it won’t be crowded–just make sure you check ahead with smaller wineries, as some may not be open on a weekday, although most are happy to accommodate with an appointment if they know you’ll be stopping by. You can find some wine touring ideas here.

Just like the Willamette Valley is big on wines, it’s also known for great craft beer; check out this site for some ideas of Willamette Valley breweries. If you take 99W south, about midway between Portland and Eugene you’ll hit Corvallis, which is a great spot in the microbrew scene.

Evergreen Air & Space MuseumAnother spot to visit that’s just off 99W! This is a very cool museum all about the history of air travel and space flight. It’s home to lots of historic aircraft, including the Spruce Goose, built by Howard Huges in the 1940s, made entirely of wood, and still the largest airplane ever constructed.

Covered Bridges tour: Another fun thing to do as you’re making your way south would be to get off the beaten track with a covered bridges tour. One of the nicest loops to drive or bike, which will take you past half a dozen picturesque bridges, is just outside Albany.

Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway: The nation’s very first designated bike touring route runs through the valley. You could rent bikes and ride a portion of the bikeway if the weather’s nice. This has info about bike rentals and touring assistance:

Silver Creek Falls: One of the most famous hikes in Oregon, but it shouldn’t be too crowded if you go on a weekday in March. Plus it’s famous for a reason! You get to walk over, under, and behind 10 waterfalls on the Trail of Ten Falls.

McDowell Creek FallsAnother great waterfall hike that’s a little more off the beaten path. And if you go on a weekday in March, you probably will have the entire trail to yourselves. This is a good one to combine with if you do the Covered Brides tour, as it’s in the same area of the valley.

McDonald-Dunn ForestThis is the forest you’ll find me in most weekends. It’s an entire forest managed by Oregon State University for their forestry research, but it’s open to the public for everyone to enjoy. Truly a gem, with trails for hiking and mountain biking that criss-cross throughout it. If you’re driving south on 99W, you’ll literally drive right by it! Even if you just stop and do a quick loop to stretch your legs, it’s worth it.

B&B recommendations: Youngberg Hill or the Black Walnut are both gorgeous inns on the site of working vineyards. Another fun place that isn’t exactly a B&B is The Vintages, a place where can rent a vintage Airstream trailer for the night. The Hanson Country Inn is another good B&B that would be a nice place to stay if you were interested in checking out the Corvallis beer scene.

Can you snowshoe at Crater Lake in March?

Glad you asked your question! Crater Lake is gorgeous in winter, and yes, March is still definitely winter there! Right now, you can still snowshoe, and I do recommend it; this is a great way to see the park in winter.

If you’re coming from the Klamath Falls area, I suggest you check out this Travel Oregon story (full disclosure, written by yours truly), which outlines itinerary ideas.

It’s written specifically for family adventures, but can be applied with or without kids in tow. For a guide, I recommend Roe Outfitters (in Klamath Falls) if you want a tailor-made day in Crater Lake National Park just for you. We have spent time with Roe and they’re fantastic.

You can also sign up for snowshoe tours directly at Crater Lake, provided you visit on a weekend. Go here to find out more. This is a great budget way to explore the park and be guided by a ranger.

If you’re snowshoeing on your own, and want a GPS tracker, I recommend the InReach or SPOT. You can see a comparison of the two here.

Always check for park closures and road closures before heading to Crater Lake in winter. I see that right now, the south entrance (which is usually open in winter) is temporarily closed due to heavy snow. Check here for updates.

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