When we visited Oregon for the first time in May 2014, we were so impressed by its beautiful nature. We visited the coast (Cannon Beach) we were fascinated by the infinite beach and the rocks, scattered in the ocean. In 2014 we also visited and the picturesque Columbia River Gorge and its waterfalls.
We knew we are going to go back soon. Without too much thinking, we decided to do a road trip to Oregon in June 2015. We wanted to reach down south to the border with California, but we didn’t have enough time. So we are going to visit California on another road trip and now focused on Oregon.
Oregon is like a mixture of Washington and California. It combines the beautiful coast of California with the majestic forests of Washington.
The Oregon Coast seemed infinite to me – it runs from the north border of the state with Washington and reaches down California. The Pacific Coast highway – US 101, offers a breathtaking 363 miles journey. The Coast is protected from development and construction by the famous 1967 Oregon Beach Bill. There are 27 scenic state parks along the coast line. Its wild beauty captures the senses and we felt like we were in another mystic world. The beaches, at which the waters of the Pacific Ocean were crashing, were secluded, cold, rocky and covered in fog.
The Oregon Lighthouses
There are nine functioning lighthouses along the coast. Five of them are open to visitors and some of them offer visitors inside tours of the towers.
Our road trip included a stop at Heceta Head Lighthouse – the one with the longest beam of light, shining 21 miles out at sea.
Columbia River is the longest river in the Pacific Northwest. It takes its source in the Canadian Rocky Mountains and runs 2,000 km through the Canadian province of British Columbia and the US states of Washington and Oregon and is emptying in the Pacific Ocean. At the border of Washingotn and Oregon, near Portland, Columbia river has carved a picturesque canyon, 1,2 km deep and 130 km long.
Road trip – Day 1
The distance between Vancouver and Portland is about 520 km. We left at 6 am and quickly passed the US Canadian border due to our Nexus cards. We drove south on Highway I-5 and arrived after 5 hours.
The first thing we visited was the Columbia River Gorge and specifically Oneonta Gorge, which is 2 km west of Multnomah Falls. I wanted to visit this place since last year, but I knew it is difficult to go to the Oneonta Falls. The side of the narrow road was full with parked cars and it took us long time until we found a parking spot.
To reach Oneonta Falls you have to walk in the river for 0.8 miles. The water was ankle high and wasn’t cold (it was at the end of June). The weather was so hot and humid this day and a cooling down in the river was perfect for us. In the middle of our hike there was an impassable obstacle – a huge rock and many logs.
People that reached the falls and were coming back told us that after the logs the lever of the river was waist high and walking is harder. We knew we don’t want to wade through higher level waters and started climbing on the rock and the logs just to see how far we can go.
This climb was extremely dangerous, mainly because there were so many people, and even people with little babies and dogs. I don’t recommend taking your young baby with you on this hike! While on the logs and trying not to fall down, and being courteous and waiting for other people we even saw rats running around. This was a little bit too much for me and we decided to go back. Obviously the best time to hike Oneonta Gorge is note the late afternoon but early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
We drove back to Portland through the Historic Columbia River Highway and stopped and La Latourell Falls and at Portland Women’s Forum which offers gorgeous views of the canyon.
We had booked a hotel in Salem.
Road trip – Day 2
We drove down south from Salem on Highway I-5 until we reached Roseburg. We took Exit 119 and continued west on a two way road until we reached Bandon. The distance from Bandon to California is 140 km but we will do that on another trip.
The towns along the Oregon Coast are very similar and Bandon reminded me of Cannon Beach. The feeling of the town was so relaxed, no one was in a hurry, it looked to me like time has stopped there. There was a lot of small restaurants and souvenir shop on the main street. The weather was sunny but cold as opposed to the heat in Portland. The temperature was 17 C and we were told this is a normal summer temperature for the coast!
We drove down to Coquille Point Beach and enjoyed the wide beach with scattered rocks everywhere.
From Bandon we continued north on US 101 to the coastal town of Newport, where we had to spend the second night. The more north we travelled, the colder and foggier it became. At one point the outside temperature dropped to 13 C – and this in the middle of summer at the end of June! This for us is winter time in Vancouver! We were almost the only car on the road and it was so deserted and beautiful – another marvelous world!
Before we reached Heceta Head Lighthouse we got lost. We found ourselves in a rsidential neighbourhod in the town of Florence. A nice old lady who knew the area very well told us how to get to the lighthouse and where to stop to take beautiful pictures.
After Heceta Head we stopped at another wild and cold beach to take pictures. The fog was getting heavier and fused together with the clouds and the ocean.
The last stop was at Cape Perpetua and Thor’s Well. It was already 7 pm, it was so cold and windy. The beach was covered with rocks which formed wells. The ocean waves were surfing the rocks and then disappearing in the wells just to return seconds later.
We arrived in Newport at 8 pm and had dinner in the only restaurant in the area – at Georgie’s Beachside Grill. It was right on the beach and we got seated on a table next to the window – the sun was trying to show itself from behind the clouds and looked like a yellow moon – it was just so surreal and mysterious.
Road trip – Day 3
On our last day, after breakfast we drove north 720 km back to Vancouver.