Ask Oregon Questions & Answers
We are planning a road trip along the entire Oregon Coast next year. I would like to know when is the best time for whale watching, what wouldn’t you miss, and how long a trip should we take to make it worth our while? We like to hike and would love to do some fun things as well as the scenery and tide pools. Where are the best places to camp along the way?
You didn’t mention what time of year you were planning your trip, but their are two times of year that Gray whales migrate along the Oregon Coast. They travel south during the winter, with mid-December to mid-January beginning the typical peak of migration along the Oregon Coast. The last week of December there is a coast wide program called Whale Watching Spoken Here with volunteers at dozens of the top whale watching locations to help assist visitors in spotting them. The whales return north in early spring with the peak of the migration between March and April. The Spring Whale Watching Spoken Here program is the last week in March.
There are also resident whales that might be spotted year-round. Your best bet would be to visit the Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay, an area the whales are known to frequent.
If you plan on doing a fair amount of hiking on your trip, I would definitely plan on two weeks.
A pretty spectacular start to your journey would be Ecola State Park at the north end of Cannon Beach. You’ll have great panoramic views of the local icon Haystack Rock and the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse just offshore. There are several hiking trails within the park. Cannon Beach is a cute upscale beach town with an easy to walk downtown filled with boutiques and art galleries. Haystack Rock is known for its easily accessible tidepools and at many low tides the Haystack Rock Awareness Program is on the beach offering interpretive information on tidepools and nesting seabirds including puffins during the spring and summer.
About 10 minutes to the south is Oswald West State Park with more hiking trails. I would recommend the Cape Falcon trail, that is just under five miles roundtrip to the end of the cape and back (a great whale watching spot!). Just a couple minutes to the north on the highway, you climb Neahkahnie Mountain where several highway turnouts offer expansive views hundreds of feet about the surf (another great whale watching location!). There is a nice campground a little further south at Nehalem Bay State Park.
As you continue south, you may want to stop at the Tillamook County Creamery, home of Tillamook Cheese, one of the region’s best known products. Then, I’d make a sidetrip off Highway 101, following signs to Cape Meares and the Three Capes Scenic Route. Cape Meares is just a few minutes away where Cape Meares State Park offers great views and a short walk to a historic lighthouse. Your next stop would be Cape Lookout State Park. This would be another great camping spot with adjacent hiking trails. The last cape on the sidetrip is Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City, a sculpted sandstone headland with a giant sand dune on its flank and just offshore is another of Oregon’s Haystack Rocks. You rejoin the highway just south of Pacific City.
The drive between Lincoln City and Newport will offer many views. I’d stop at Boiler Bay State Wayside and the town of Depoe Bay (whales!). Make another off the highway trip to Otter Rock and Devil’s Punchbowl State Park. Just a little further south, you can make Beverly Beach State Park another camping destination before you continue toward Newport. Take time to visit Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural area just north of Newport. There are great views, bird watching, whale watching, a beautiful lighthouse and, if you plan your visit for a good low tide, an incredible tidepool area. In Newport, be sure to visit the Bayfront area and you should probably set aside a minimum of two hours for the Oregon Coast Aquarium.
As you continue south, you may want to make time for a visit to the beach at Seal Rock for more tidepools, then set your sights on the Cape Perpetua Natural Area just south of Yachats. You’ll find some great hiking and beach areas there.
Further south, I’d camp at Honeyman State Park in Florence, offering access to sand dunes and for dune hiking you may also want to stop at the John Dellenback Dunes Trail south of Reedsport.
We’ll be staying in Corvallis for about a week and are most interested in seeing Oregon’s natural wonders. How much could we jam into our itinerary?
I happen to live only 10 miles from Corvallis and love so much about this region so let’s go!
Here are a few links to check out:
I know this is a lot to throw at you but seriously, I’ve been to these place and they are totally worth checking out! I am an avid hiker and love the Oregon outdoors as well. So, please feel free to also check out my blog at www.whitebreadandjam.blogspot.com for more ideas and ways to spend your time here.
You could seriously spend just a week in the Benton and Linn County areas around Corvallis however, if you find time and have a day or two, check out our beautiful Oregon Coast! Newport isn’t that far away and the little town of Nye Beach is quaint and right on the sandy beaches of the Pacific Ocean. You can also take a day trip up to see Multnomah Falls as well. One of Oregon’s most beautiful natural wonders and worthy of a good hike around the falls area. Don’t forget your camera!
Believe me when I say I’ve only tapped the tip of the ice berg with this list. There’s so much more to do and see. So, please let me know if I can provide more ideas of places to visit. Have a great trip and enjoy Oregon!
I would suggest using Hood River as a base for your two days here. Lots of lodging options, brew pubs, wineries and it’s right on the Columbia River. It’s also a great spot for easy access to the recreation areas of Mount Hood and the Gorge. Mount Hood Adventure is a great company to contact for help with planning horseback riding and other adventure activities.
Downtown Troutdale has a few good restaurants, art galleries, and antique shops. The real attraction in Troutdale is McMenamin’s Edgefield. Several restaurants, glass blowers, bars, and the winery. It’s a destination in itself. It was once a poor farm, and they have restored it to a hotel, along with the other things I previously mentioned. You could easily spend a few hours just wandering from bar to bar and touring the grounds.
|Mt Hood & Columbia Gorge|
Planning a trip to Portland in late March. What is the closest snow ski area that most likely will be open?
The closest skiing to Portland is on Mount Hood, approx 1-1:30 east of Portland. Spring skiing is some the best during the year and your dates are perfect for the spring deals. Ski Bowl and Timberline have what’s called the Fusion pass which is generally priced between $99-$129 and Mount Hood Meadows has a spring pass for about $129. The pass is good till the end of the season, generally mid-May. If you intend on skiing more than one day the pass more than well pays for itself.
Is there a short bike ride my girlfriends and I can do to a few wineries as a day trip from Portland?
Each of them offer tours of the Willamette Valley via bike, and seem competitively priced.
Also, if you’re interesting in planning your own bike ride, here’s a good article I found that gives some tips. The first tour is a great loop in an area I know pretty well — and very reasonable for time/distance. You’ll also not be far from some other great wineries: Trisaetum, Colene Clemens, Ayres, and Utopia (though they may be harder to access with dirt roads).
Finally, keep in mind that there is a budding cluster of urban wineries in Portland proper, and you could have a fun day tasting wine right in town. Check out the website for this group of in-the-city producers: http://pdxurbanwineries.com/
Honestly, I have never had a bad hike in the Eagle Cap because it is big enough to absorb the few people who venture in each summer.
I love Glacier Lake and topping out on Eagle Cap is terrific. Bonney Lakes are at a lower elevation and can be buggy depending on the year. Certainly the Lakes Basin is the most popular camping spot, but again, I’ve never experienced crowds.
Grants Pass is the gateway to the Wild and Scenic section of the Rogue River. As such, it is renowned for its whitewater rafting. For those who prefer to see the river from a motorized craft, there is Hellgate Jetboat Excursions.
Grants Pass also is near Oregon Caves National Monument, the state’s oldest and one of the region’s top attractions. The city’s downtown is popular with antique collectors, and there are lots of wine-tasting opportunities in the nearby Applegate Valley, as well as a Saturday farmers market downtown.
Kids love Wildlife Images in Merlin and the Bear Hotel Artworks Museum. Here are recent stories from the Mail Tribune’s Joy magazine about those attractions: http://www.mailtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20101020/JOY/10200347&cid=sitesearch and http://www.mailtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20110921/JOY/109210348&cid=sitesearch
Grants Pass is about 50 miles north of the California border right off Interstate 5. It also can be reached from the Oregon/California coast via state Highway 199, which is the route to Oregon Caves.
We love sightseeing, wineries and hiking and will be arriving in Portland. Which are the best wineries to visit for a day?
There are many places I would recommend to you, though given your tight schedule, to explore one region in the valley might be your best bet.
I would highly recommend checking out wineries in the Dundee Hills AVA, located near Dundee, OR (right on 99-W). My top picks would be:
• White Rose – ask for Gavin; beautiful, elegant wines.
That should be a full day – typically I recommend no more than 3-4 wineries in a day.
I would like to visit Eastern Oregon. I know it is very remote, so I would like to know the places to see by car. I plan for 3-4 days on the road, after which I will return to Portland. Any suggestions on where to go?
Eastern Oregon is off the beaten path, but you’ve planned the right amount of time for exploring it by car. There are several incredible summer routes, depending on how far you want to venture and your interests.
Here are two dramatic driving routes to check out with key points of interest:
Since you only have a few days, you will probably want to make a loop out of one of these driving routes. I recommend a different stop each night to get the full experience and to lighten the driving load.