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Where can I pan for gold in Southern Oregon?

For gold panning, the Rogue River is a great place. We’ve seen many people panning for gold along the lower Rogue around Grave Creek (just past the little town of Galice…take the Merlin Exit of I-5 north of Grants Pass). You can pan on any public land stretch of river, and 1/4 a mile up any tributary. Further south, what’s known as the Gold Nugget site is on the Rogue by Gold Hill in Highway 234. People also pan in the Applegate River (take Highway 138 outside of Jacksonville). This BLM pdf gives you more specific information.

Where do you recommend a short wine tasting cycling trip in the Willamette Valley?

My top pick would be the Eugene area for cycling to wineries. You’ll find a higher concentration of wineries in the Dundee/Newberg area, but the roads are more highly trafficked with very minimal shoulders, and not as good for cyclists. In the Eugene area there are a couple of different routes that will take you to several wineries within 15-20 miles.

The Territorial Wine Trail is the name for the main Eugene-area wine tasting route. You could do either the north section or the south, but the whole thing might be pretty ambitious on bikes.

North section:

If you look at the map for the north section, you’ll see it lists five different wineries. If you’re looking for only 15-20 miles, I’d suggest leaving off Domaine Meriwether and Novelle, and instead starting off with Pfeiffer Vineyard. Then head to Brigadoon and Benton-Lane. Another nearby winery you could add in that’s not shown on that map is High Pass Winery, just a couple miles from Pfeiffer. (High Pass is small, and only open on weekends, so you’d have to leave it off if you’re planning a weekday ride). All of these wineries are smallish, family-owned, and in a very pretty area.

South section:

The south section takes you to some beautiful wineries as well. As with the northern route, I’d suggest paring down the wineries a little bit to make it easier for cycling. I’d say start at Sweet Cheeks Winery, then head to Sarver (right across the street!). From there, a pretty 6-mile ride south to Iris Vineyards. After Iris, it’s about 2 miles further south to King Estate. This route offers more of a contrast of different types of wineries–King Estate is larger, while the others offer a smaller, more intimate experience. They’re all lovely, and King Estate also has an amazing restaurant on-site. The perfect place to reward yourself after a ride!

Another option: book a winery ride with The Bike Concierge, a bike tourism service based in the northern Willamette Valley. They offer a guided winery ride that includes several wineries, including Villa Catalana Cellars, one of the most beautiful wineries I’ve ever visited! They will also help you do a cycle route in any area you have in mind–they can drop you and your bikes off at one end and pick  you up at the other, so you don’t have to plan for your return route. I’ve ridden with them before and they’re extremely nice people with tons of cycling expertise. They’ll give you as much or as little support as you need.

Happy cycling!


What is Cannon Beach’s most secluded, away-from-tourists beach?

Relatively speaking, a quiet beach in Cannon Beach during the summer is a bit of on oxymoron. However, Crescent Beach, just north of Cannon Beach, is much more secluded than other Cannon Beach area beaches because it is a hike-in location from Ecola State Park. Generally speaking, the further you get away from Haystack Rock to the north or south, the less populated the beaches will be. Ecola Creek and limited parking isolates the north end beach from the biggest crowds. The beach stretches much further to the south and becomes much less crowded between Silver Point and the Arcadia Beach parking area.

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on June 29th, 2016 - Post Your Answer

What are the perfect hikes for our family vacation?

I wish my parents were as cool as you are when I was a kid! So it depends when your vacation will start but if it’s this summer, which I’m assuming it is… here’s a quick list of places you can check out within your six-day trip:

From Portland, Head to the Columbia River Gorge

  • Waterfalls to check out include:
    • Multnomah Falls – Sure, it’s super touristy, but it’s also second tallest year-round waterfall in the U.S. and will drop your jaw)
    • Oneonta Falls – This is a slot canyon that includes a hidden waterfall. The trail is right off the side of the scenic highway and includes a scramble over a log jam. If you can get there mid-week, you’ll have it all to yourselves. The water is cold, but on a hot day, does it matter? The waterfall at the end will make you think you’re in Jurassic Park.
    • Angels Rest Hike – This five-mile round-trip hike is well known for sunrise dawn patrol runs, mid-afternoon hikes and of course a great place to watch the sunset over the Columbia Gorge.
    • Larch Mountain Hike – This hike can be broken up into multiple distances, the longest of which being close to 16 miles, the shortest, .5 miles. On a clear day, you’ll see up to 7 volcanos from the summit.
  • From the Gorge, head to Hood River
    • In Hood River, you can rent mountain bikes, SUPs, trail run or drive the Fruit Loop, a scenic loop that takes you to various farm fruit stands (including a u-pick lavender farm)!
    • Check out Doppio Cafe for some great coffee, gluten free options, and other tasty snacks. If you’re realllly hungry, check out Solstice on the waterfront. Insider tip: the pizza is delicious!
  • From Hood River, head up the back side of Mt. Hood
    • Stop 1. Tamanawas Falls — a short (4mile roundtrip) hike to yep, you guessed it, another waterfall tucked away in the wilderness. You can get pretty close to this one if you’re careful.
    • Stop 2. Ramona Falls — this waterfall looks like something out of Avatar or Fern Gully. And the hike is only 7 miles round trip. Take the back way toward the waterfall for killer views.
    • Stop 3. Tom Dick and Harry Mountain via Mirror Lake — my all-time favorite. But also, everyone else’s. Parking is along the highway and the trail starts as soon as you cross the log bridge and dip into the forest. Hike 2 miles up to Mirror Lake for a snack then head up the hill another mile or so to expansive views of Mt. Hood. You won’t regret it.
  • From Mt. Hood head back to Portland. Grab some coffee. A snack. Whatever you like. Then take off for the Oregon Coast.

Your easiest coastal options from Portland are Tillamook (left) or Seaside/Astoria (right) as the road splits. If you’re a Goonies fan, you might want to lean right and head toward Astoria. Stop at Ft. Stevens State Park and check out the Peter Iredale Shipwreck on the beach before heading into Astoria for some fresh seafood. If you can find the Goonies House, it’s worth a peek.

If you decide to head towards Cannon Beach or Tillamook, stop at Ecola State Park and hike down to Indian Beach. This is a great place to watch surfers shred some seriously cold water. But it’s also a picturesque rocky, wild, Oregon beach. Watch out for the wild elk that like to roam the area. They’re friendly, just big.

Tillamook is known for it’s cheese and ice cream. So if you have chance to swing into the factory and get in line for the massive scoops of ice cream, it might be worth your time. You can also sample the squeaky cheese upstairs.

If you continue heading south, check out the Arch Cape or the Tillamook Bay Ocean Spit, a seven-mile roundtrip hike that remains flat and tours you alongside the freshwater bay and then wraps you back around to the ocean. Seashells are abundant and there are plenty of photo opportunities, trails to explore, and interested things to see. Once, I found seven starfish attached to the rocks on the jetty at the half-way point.

From here, if you can swing it, there’s a cool place called The Jetty Fishery. It’s a crabbing outfitter that allows you to rent boats and try your hand at catching dinner. The staff is amazing, hilarious, and also very knowledgeable. If you’ve never crabbed before, no worries, they’ll show you exactly what to do. And (!) when you bring back a bucket full of Oregon Dungeness crab, they’ll cook it up for you as you relax by the fire pit. How cool is that?

There’s so much more to see and do along the Coast! All of the following are within driving distance from Cannon Beach and are great places to check out:

  • Haystack Rock
  • Oswald West State Park — Short Sands Beach
  • Hug Point (sea caves + waterfalls!)
  • Neahkahnie Mountain (hike up and overlook Manzanita Beach)
  • Cape Falcon lookout
  • Cape Lookout State Park + hike
  • The Oregon Coast Trail
Answered by Kristen Mohror on June 27th, 2016 - Post Your Answer

What are the most dog-friendly towns in Southern Oregon?

Oregon in general is a very dog-friendly state! In my opinion, Ashland and the smaller, historic town of Jacksonville are the most dog-friendly towns in Southern Oregon, with plenty of restaurants that allow dogs on their decks and lodging options for travelers with dogs. Four-legged friends are welcome on all forest service trails in the area, on leash. We’ve taken our dogs on hikes such as Upper and Lower Table Rocks, in Medford, Grizzly Peak in Ashland, and along the Rogue River Trail, outside of Grants Pass.

The Redwood Highway, which runs from Grants Pass to the coast at Brookings, is a beautiful drive, and the state park trails and forest service trails there also accept dogs.

Enjoy Southern Oregon!

We’re staying in Vida during the Olympic Trials in Eugene; what should we check out?

Vida is pretty remote but it’s in a very, very pretty spot with lots of outdoorsy things to do. It’s right along the McKenzie River which is one of the prettiest rivers in the state.

From Vida, it’s about a 40-minute drive to the trailhead for an easy hike to Tamolitch, the Blue Pool–this one is on my bucket list of hikes that I need to do. Everyone I know who has done it tells me it’s really unbelievably pretty!

Another hike in that area is to Sahalie and Koosah Falls–fairly easy hike and the waterfalls are gorgeous.

The Sahalie and Koosah hike is one segment of the McKenzie River National Trail, which is one of the country’s top mountain biking trails. I don’t know if you’re into mountain biking or will have access to bikes, but if you are then you should not miss out on that option. If you don’t have mountain bikes, you can rent them for the day from McKenzie River Mountain Resort, which also provides a shuttle service. If you’re not into mountain biking, you can also go hiking or trail running on the McKenzie River Trail– named it one of the country’s top five running trails.

The area around Vida is known for having some fun natural hot springs to visit, such as the Terwiliger Hot Springs. (Be aware that as with many natural hot springs, clothing is considered optional for some visitors here.)

If you like swimming, you can do that at Cougar Reservoir.

If you like fishing, some of the state’s best fly fishing is on the McKenzie River, and there are lots of outfitters who will rent you gear and take you out. Paddling and rafting on the McKenzie River is very popular too. Get ahold of a number of guides who will take you fishing or rafting and rent you gear. You can also opt to go rafting on the McKenzie.

I hope your visit to Oregon for the Olympic trials is fabulous–have a great time!

Where should we stop to play golf between Redmond and Bandon?

Before you leave Redmond, I recommend playing the courses at Eagle Crest Resort. The Eagle Crest owners also own Brasada Ranch, which is about 20 minutes east of Eagle Crest and is a fantastically fun golf experience.

As far as the trip from central Oregon to Bandon, I have a “no-brainier, must play” recommendation…..Tokatee Golf Course.  It is located about an hour south from Eagle Crest next to the town of Blue River.  It is family owned gem that is easy to walk and has tremendous views of our Cascade mountains.  It is modestly priced and the beer is real cold!

If you want to get further down the road before playing golf, I would travel to Florence where you can play Sandpines Golf Club.  It is right on the ocean, great public play course.  And, just up the hill from Sandpines is Ocean Dunes that too is more modest in design but an easy golf course to get around and modestly priced.  In any event, you are experience great public play courses along your travels from Bend to Bandon.

Answered by Noel Lucky, Ask Oregon Golf Expert on June 17th, 2016 - Post Your Answer

I’m a big ‘Goonies’ fan… where do you recommend we visit?

Astoria is famous for being the filming location of the 1985 hit classic ‘The Goonies,’ as well as a handful of other popular movies. Astoria of  has a wide range of accommodations from luxury hotels on the riverfront to historic downtown boutique hotels, chain hotel brands and a good selection of bed and breakfasts. So, depending on your definition of quaint and not necessarily pricey, there are probably a few good choices for you. For a quaint motel, consider the Astoria Crest Motel. It is just east of downtown Astoria in a fabulous view location on a bluff and prices are reasonable.  For budget minded hipsters, downtown boutique hotels include the Commodore Hotel and Norblad Hotel and Hostel. You’ll have to check them out online to see if they’re your cup of tea. If you enjoy bed and breakfasts, consider Rose River Inn, Clementine’s and Crosby House.

Related to the The Goonies, I would definitely suggest a visit to the Oregon Film Museum in Astoria and you should consider a day trip to Cannon Beach, home of Goonies Rock (Haystack Rock). Ecola State Park offers great views as seen in the movie. Check out this page on the TravelAstoria website for more Goonies ideas. My other favorite Astoria area attractions include the Columbia River Maritime Museum, Lewis and Clark’s Fort Clatsop and the Peter Iredale shipwreck on the beach at Fort Stevens State Park. On a clear day, a stop at the Astoria Column will offer great views. The Astoria Riverwalk makes for a nice stroll or you can hop on the historic trolley to tour the riverfront.

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on June 13th, 2016 - Post Your Answer

Are there places to stand-up paddleboard near Ashland?

Excellent question! Yes, there are several great places to SUP near Ashland. In fact, my family regularly paddleboards. At Emigrant Lake, which is located just a few miles from town, maybe people SUP from the boat dock area at the county park, or from the campground or beach. During peak season (June-August), several kiosks on-site rent paddle boards by the hour or day as well.

About 45 minutes from Ashland in the scenic Applegate Valley. It’s lovely to SUP on Applegate Lake as well. From Ashland, take I-5 to the Phoenix exit, then follow signs to Jacksonville. From there, take Highway 138 to Applegate Lake. You can also head out Highway 140 to Fish Lake or Lake of the Woods, or Highway 62 (from Medford) to Lost Creek Lake.

For the adventurous and advanced, we have also seen quite a bit of SUP activity on the Rogue River, particularly on the (mostly) calm section from Lost Creek Dam to Shady Cove (also on Highway 62, before you reach Lost Creek Lake). There are riffles and Class I-II whitewater to contend with, however.

Have fun in Southern Oregon paddleboarding!

Is part of the Oregon Trail still visible in Eastern Oregon?

There are two great spots that I would suggest to see the Oregon Trail. One is Blue Mountain Crossing, just off I-84, about nine miles west of La Grande. It’s a half-mile paved, easy accessible trail that follows some of the best preserved and most scenic traces of the Oregon Trails. Blue Mountain Crossing has discovery trails where you can literally walk in the footsteps of the pioneers. Plus, there are benches and picnic tables where you can rest.

The second spot I suggest is the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center in Baker City. This is a great museum that offers you with a hike out to see the wagon ruts. Managed by the BLM, the center tells the story of emigrants through exhibits, program, films and special events. Specifically, the center focuses on six themes related to westward migration and settlement: pioneer life on the Oregon Trail, mountain men and early trail travelers, Native Americans along the Oregon Trail, natural history along the trail and in Eastern Oregon, mining and early settlement, and the history of the general land office.

Answered by Emily Palmer on June 6th, 2016 - Post Your Answer
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