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What places on the Oregon Coast commemorate the Lewis & Clark expedition?

The Lewis and Clark National Historical Park encompasses several sites along the Lower Columbia River in both Oregon and Washington. Just south of Astoria is Fort Clatsop, featuring a visitor center and a full-size re-creation of the explorer’s fort built to endure the winter of 1806.

There are several other sites you may find interesting further south along the Oregon Coast. The explorers set up a salt making camp in the area of present day Seaside during their winter on the coast. There is a commemorative “salt cairn” just off Seaside’s oceanfront promenade at Lewis and Clark Way. A large bronze sculpture of Lewis and Clark sits at the center of Seaside’s automobile turnaround at the beach. The explorers sent a party over Tillamook Head from the salt camp to find a whale they had heard was beached on the other side of the headland and that route can be hiked today from Seaside to Ecola State Park in Cannon Beach. In Cannon Beach, a small pocket park called Whale Park commemorates the explorers visit to the area where the whale was found on the south side of the creek Clark named Ecola, the native term for whale. There is interpretive signage on the north side of the creek at Les Shirley Park.

Happy exploring the explorers!

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on July 31st, 2013 - Post Your Answer

Where should I start a hike on the McKenzie River Trail?

Great question! The McKenzie River Trail is one that is near and dear to my heart. I like to think of the trail as 3 different sections. The upper portion begins at Clear Lake. You can hike around the lake which is very beautiful (or rent row boats by the hour). The trail continues on from the southwest corner of the lake and before you know it you’re at Sahalie Falls and then Koosah Falls. These two waterfalls will impress you and the trail around here is very lush and picturesque. If you continue hiking down the trail you will notice that after a while the river disappears (it goes underground for a few miles). You can continue through this section, or after Koosah Falls loop back up the trail to your car at Clear Lake and shuttle to the next trailhead which would be at Trailbridge Reservoir. Take a right at the stop sign after you cross the river and head up the road to a parking area. Follow the trail on the right and in about 1.5 miles you’ll reach Tamolitch Falls aka Blue Pool. This is an out-and-back trail. If you still have time after these two hikes I would continue west on Highway 126 and stop at Belknap Hot Springs Resort. Here you can either give in to temptation and pay the $7 for an hour of relaxation in the swimming pool fed by natural hot springs, tour the beautiful property or hike a few miles down the trail (westward).

So the three sections in summary:

Upper McKenzie: Clear Lake to Koosah Falls (beautiful, scenic, waterfalls) Parking available at Clear Lake Resort, Sahalie Falls and Koosah Falls

Middle McKenzie: Trailbridge to Tamolitch (fire and ice, forest and lava, and beautiful Blue Pool)
Parking available at Trailbridge Reservoir

Lower McKenzie: Belknap Hot Springs to McKenzie Bridge (hot springs, and lush forest)
Parking available at Belknap Hot Springs Resort, Deer Creek Rd, or the McKenzie River Ranger Station

Which breweries should we visit in Bend?

Bend, Oregon–let’s see, I think if I recall correctly, they have a brewery there. Kidding. Bend has gone insane. There are currently have, depending on how you count, around 18 breweries in Central Oregon, and ten or so in Bend proper. The difficulty is not finding breweries, it’s choosing which ones to go to.

The first thing I’d recommend is getting the Bend Ale Trail app if you have a smart phone. It has listings of all the breweries and a map that helps you navigate around. Then you have the hard choices. Deschutes is definitely a must–it’s one of the best breweries in the US, and a bit of a pilgrimage to see the original downtown brewpub. If you want to stay downtown, Bend Brewing is another venerable favorite and just around the corner.

I’d recommend three other places. Definitely try Crux Fermentation Project, which just opened last year. It’s Larry Sidor’s new brewery–he was the master brewer at Deschutes for ten years prior to starting Crux. (Inversion, Green Lakes, the Abyss, Hop Henge, etc etc–all his.) It’s in a bit of a no-man’s land, but the pub is gorgeous and fun. Next, you might try to stop in at Boneyard, which is on the walkable outskirts of downtown. Boneyard is an IPA house, which I know is not your sweet spot. But it’s also the “it” brewery in Oregon right now–they have the most popular IPA from Bend to Portland, which is really saying something. A funky little place named after the brewer’s efforts to cobble together his brewery by picking the “bones” of other breweries. (They only have a tasting room with limited hours, so plan ahead.) Finally, Worthy Brewing is brand-new, and a place I haven’t yet visited. But it’s a big project helmed by Chad Kennedy, who was formerly the longtime brewer at Laurelwood in Portland. He’s a really fantastic brewer.

Those are my best bets, but Silver Moon and 10 Barrel are really good, too. Bend is a great town for beer, and you can’t go wrong–it’s easy as Sunday Morning. Best of luck, and cheers.

Answered by Jeff Alworth, Ask Oregon Beer Expert on July 3rd, 2013 - Post Your Answer

What are some good hikes and bird watching spots in Newport?

There are several options for hiking in the Newport area. For a great beach walk, you can walk from Beverly Beach State Park south to Otter Rock where a stairway leads you to the fascinating Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area.  There’s also the Yaquina Head Lighthouse, located in the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. This is a great seabird birdwatching area, has beautiful tidepools and some short hiking trails. For more serious hiking, consider Beaver Creek State Natural Area about seven miles south of Newport, another great birdwatching location. To experience coastal rainforest, you could also consider the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area about 45 minutes south of Newport. This is one of the most dramatic stretches of the coast with several options for hikes from the visitor center. A little further south is the Heceta Head Lighthouse with another beautiful short walk to the recently restored lighthouse.
Happy exploring!

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on July 3rd, 2013 - Post Your Answer

Where can I go rafting near Portland with a 6 year-old?

For rafting near Portland with a six year old I’d suggest the Deschutes River near Maupin. It’s a great introduction to rafting and flows all summer long!

We’re an active family of 4 looking for a week of Oregon adventures. What do you suggest?

Thanks for the question!  I will give you a basic breakdown of the state’s adventure offerings and once you decide where in Oregon you would like to visit I can narrow down the options and give you some more detail.  Also, the time of year changes what is available.

The Coast – The Oregon Coast is nicknamed the People’s Coast and it has something for everyone.  In the north coast you have Seaside, which is a fun town with lots of summer activities that appeal to kids of all ages (boardwalk, saltwater taffy, beachcombing, kites).  Heading south you will encounter numerous lighthouses (Yaquina, Heceta Head) and the fun town of Newport.  Between Newport and Florence is what I consider to be the BEST of the Oregon Coast scenery.  Cape Perpetua Scenic Area will beckon you to stop and explore.  I dare you to drive by it and not stop.  Florence has a fun downtown and offers access to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation area where you can go on a dune buggy tour or try sandboarding.  Continuing south on the coast highway you’ll pass Reedsport which is home to the Umpqua Discovery Center.  Gold Beach is another adventure hub where you can go on a jet-boat ride, fish for salmon, or just enjoy the beach.

The I-5 Corridor – (North to South) Begin your trip with a stop in Portland.  Explore a very unique town full of delicious eateries, museums, natural wonders and more.  If you head east from Portland along Interstate 84 you can explore the Columbia River Gorge and hike around numerous waterfalls, including the tallest in the state, Multnomah Falls.  Further south on I-5 take a shopping adventure in Woodburn and enjoy shopping at the Woodburn Outlets (tax free). East of Woodburn is Silverton and Silver Falls State Park, a great place to go hiking and take photos.  Next stop is Eugene.  Try to visit on a Saturday so that you can check out the Saturday Market.  There are a lot of great hikes in the area, some with swimming holes too.  After you’ve explored Eugene, set the GPS for Winston and the Wildlife Safari.  Make sure you stop for cheese at the Rogue Creamery and cool off with a trip on a Hellgate Excursions Jet Boat in Grants Pass.

Central Oregon a.k.a “The Dry Side” – Some of my favorites east of the Cascades are Warm Springs and the Kah-Nee-Ta Resort & Spas, Smith Rock State Park in Redmond.  In Bend you can have river adventures (rafting, tubing, stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, canoeing) mountain biking adventures and culinary adventures.   A trip to Oregon isn’t complete without a stop at Crater Lake.  If it’s really a hot day you can cool off at the end of the Cleetwood Cove trail with a dip in the clear blue (very cold) water.

I recommend you check out the state’s Scenic Byways and once you decide where you want to go let me know so that I can offer you more suggestions.

Happy travels!

Where are good places to camp near mountain biking trails?

Oakridge (50 miles east of I-5 near Eugene) has hundreds of miles of trails.  You can camp at Salmon Creek Campground and ride from your campsite about 50 feet onto the Salmon Creek trail.  For some of the more challenging and thrilling trails in the area you’ll need a shuttle to various trailheads which are available from Oregon Adventures.

Bend/Sisters (Central Oregon, 2 hours from Oakridge) Has fun trails and ample camping.  Some popular places to camp are Tumalo State Park and my personal favorite, Smith Rock State Park (both have yurts you can reserve).  Your best bet for mountain biking is the Phil’s Trail Network that starts right in Bend.  You can also mountain bike at Smith Rock and in Sisters at Peterson Ridge and, farther west, on the McKenzie River Trail.

Hood River (Adjacent to the the Washington border, east of Portland) In the last few years Hood River has really emerged as a mountain biking destination, which pairs exceptionally well with this outdoorsy waterfront town.  You can camp at Lost Lake Resort and Campground and ride nearby Post Canyon Trail System.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

Where is the best place to camp, hike and bike on the North Oregon Coast?

My top choice would be Cape Lookout State Park southwest of Tillamook for the best camping experience. The campground is right next to the beach and there are several miles of hiking trails including one to the end of the cape through old-growth Sitka Spruce rainforest. Bikes are not allowed on State Park trails, so you would have to look at other options for off-road biking. An alternative would be Nehalem Bay State State Park near Manzanita that borders both bay and ocean. There are campground biking trails that are more for family recreation, so if you are looking for more off-road biking, you could look at logging roads on Neahkahnie Mountain about 10 minutes to the north in Oswald West State Park. The hiking trails in Oswald West State Park are great, but again, are not open to bikes.

Happy exploring!

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on May 30th, 2013 - Post Your Answer

What’s the best route to see the John Day Fossil Beds?

You can make a great loop between Portland and John Day. The most exciting route will be to take Highway 26 all the way. It will take you over Mt Hood into central Oregon and through The Painted Hills. Total driving time is about 5 hours.

For a return trip, I recommend heading north through The John Day Fossil Beds on OR 19 to Arlington. There you will join Interstate 84 and make the riveting drive along the Columbia River and through the Columbia River Gorge. Driving time is about the same.

I think this is the most scenic tour that will offer up several slices of Oregon for you, though there are other variations. You will find lots of small towns and amenities along the way, which you can check out via traveloregon.com. You can also request printed travel guides.

Enjoy your trip!

Which Oregon wineries have restaurants that are open daily?

King Estate and Left Coast Cellars are on the list. You should also check with Willamette Valley Vineyards as I believe they serve lunch regularly if not dinner as well.

In Dundee you’ll find both Red Hills Market (just upstairs is Domaine Trouvere) which is a definite favorite. Also in Dundee is the Dundee Bistro, which is connected to the Ponzi Wine Bar.

Also, there are many wineries that are more than happy to allow you to enjoy a picnic lunch (which you can get at Red Hills Market or other convenient places) with their sweeping views. Those that readily come to mind include Johan (in the same vicinity as Left Coast, actually!), Trisaetum Winery, Stoller Vineyards, Lenné Estate, WillaKenzie, A Blooming Hill, Apolloni Vineyards, and Sokol Blosser. Apparently I eat at more wineries than I realized!

I hope this helps with your planning.

Happy tasting!

Answered by Ryan Reichert, Ask Oregon Wine Expert on May 29th, 2013 - Post Your Answer
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