6 great reasons to visit Oregon

Variety is one word that sums up Oregon. Sights that vary from the Pacific Ocean to Mount Hood, an extinct volcano rising 3426 metres above the Columbia Gorge. Gentle rolling countryside changes into jagged outcrops of rock. Follow one of the Scenic Byways (Oregon has more of these than any other state in the Union) through the Cascade Mountains or maybe the Vineyard and Valley route is more to your liking.  Wherever you go, you are sure to be delighted by the scenery and the friendly people. Portland, the main gateway, to be served from May 2017 by a direct Delta Airlines flight from London Heathrow, is a sophisticated yet fun city known for great  food, arts scene and the glorious Rose Garden.

Portland Rose Garden

Whether you eat from one of the many food trucks dotted around the downtown area or one of the myriads of restaurants, your palette will not be disappointed. One word of warning if you are a book lover:  so that you do not exceed your luggage allowance – do avoid Powell’s books.  It has over 1.5 million new and used books.

Portland food carts

Crater Lake

There is much controversy about which is the deepest lake in the world.  With a maximum depth of 594 metres, it is certainly the deepest in the United States.  Formed over 7,700 years ago by the collapse of Mount Mazama it has no rivers running in or out; its water comes from the melting snows and rainfall which astonishingly replaces itself every 250 years. Visually it is absolutely stunning – one of the bluest lakes I have ever seen and conveniently there is a hotel right on its shores.

Crater Lake

The Columbia River Gorge

The Columbia River Gorge divides Washington State from Oregon and can be explored many ways.  One of my favourites is aboard the Un-cruise ship the SS Legacy which sails from Portland up the Columbia and Snake River into the wine country discovering the Lewis & Clark history along the way.

Cruise the Columbia River Gorge with Un-cruise

There is also a winding and extraordinarily pretty National Scenic Highway which tracks the river. The Multnomah Falls, a sort of double waterfall drops a staggering 189 metres is just one of the highlights of the Gorge.

Multnomah Falls, Historic Columbia River Highway 08-1 by Sumio Koizumi

The wine and the wineries

Not very well known to us in the UK, yet, but deservedly has won many awards in the US. Pinot Noir is the prevalent grape but there are 71 others to choose from and there is much fun to be had visiting vineyards, sampling their offerings and pairing them with the locally produced foods.  Many of the wineries are quite small and their owners are delighted to share their knowledge and passion with you when you visit.

Domaine Serene

The Oregon Coast

Follow Highway 101, the slow coastal road all the way down from Astoria in the north to Brookings in the south and you will be rewarded with stunning views which range from rocky outcrops to extraordinary sand dunes which rise over 150 metres.  It is huge fun to ride them either in an ATV or a specially adapted dune buggy.

CapeArago_lighthouse S

Rafting

Rafting or kayaking on the Rogue River is enormous fun; whether you like a gentle day trip with a comfortable hotel bed at the end of the day or a more outdoorsy camping 3- or 4-day trip.  Either way you are sure to get wet and see some wonderful scenery. All this fresh air and activity will build up a healthy appetite which Oregon will be able to sate.

Rafting the Rogue River

Painted Hills

Last but by no means least on my list of the best things to see and do in Oregon are the Painted Hills. The Painted Hills are part of the John Day Fossil Beds and it is well worth visiting the the Clarno Unit, with Mars-like pillars formed by waterfalls and volcanic sludge, and the Sheep Rock Unit, where fossils of plants and animals like sabre-toothed cats are on display at the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center as well.  The vibrant golds, blacks and reds of the hills are always amazing but for the best colours visiting in the late afternoon is best.

Painted Hills

These are my favourite six but the Oregon Tourist board talks about the 7 Wonders of Oregon.  We don’t always overlap; let me know what you think.

Sandra Potter is Founder of Frontier Travel.

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