Oregon: Crater Lake, Columbia River Gorge, and other Northwest highlights

If we ever live on the beach for more than a few months, Oregon might be the place. While Portland didn't meet our exaggerated expectations and Roseburg may as well be in Alabama for all its shallow religiosity and confederate flags, other nearby parts of the Northwest have been amazing. The whole region has quickly grown on us; particularly the coast with its cliff views, sea stacks, and untamed beaches.

The mountain forests of Oregon are as lush as those in Alaska and full of amazing waterfalls. The valleys are dotted with wineries and the cities, edifying culture. Seattle and Vancouver are now among my top favorite cities. With winter moving in, we're about ready to head out, but Oregon has been a rewarding choice.

A few highlights:

Crater Lake: This crater is huge! Originally created from an imploded volcano, the crater is now filled by the deepest lake in the country. Crater Lake is nearly 2000' deep. Only park service boats are allowed on the lake, but you can take one to Wizard Island for hiking. There is a log known as "The Old Man of the Lake" that has been floating vertically in Crater Lake since at least 1896. It moves about the lake as much as 62 miles a year, potentially influencing wave patterns.

Columbia River Gorge: Beginning just outside of Portland, the gorge runs for 80 miles on the border between Washington and Oregon. The main attraction is Multnomah Falls (above), but there are dozens of other interesting and less-crowded stops along both sides of the river, in and above the gorge. This is a place I'd definitely like to spend more time.

Eugene: While Portland was somewhat of a disappointment (more on this in another post), Eugene was a nice consolation. It is much closer to where we're living in Roseburg and offers many of the same things as Portland on a smaller scale-- a vibrant Saturday Market, good food, overlooks, and trails. The city reminds me of Boulder, CO or Asheville, NC. Pictured above is Ninkasi Brewing, one of the city's more popular breweries.

Waterfalls: The number of waterfalls in Oregon is ridiculous. We've seen more waterfalls in Oregon than all the other places we've been, combined. Some are next to the highway, others are 15 miles into the forest on unpaved roads and hiking trails. Some have suspension bridges, others have trails running behind them and to their tops. Some are crowded with hundreds of people while others are don't see many visitors at all.


Seattle and Vancouver: One of the best parts of living in Oregon for three months has been introductory trips to these two cities. It seemed like we couldn't stop anywhere without experiencing something interesting during our visits, whether it was trying to find a place to see the sunset and stumbling across a crowded nude beach in Vancouver or a whole alley covered with thousands of pieces of chewed gum in Seattle. Living in Charleston and Anchorage earlier in the year was great for their own reasons, but we weren't researching real-estate as we drove away like we were with Seattle, Vancouver.

The Coast: We've made three trips to the coast and will probably squeeze a fourth in before leaving. We've covered nearly the entire length from Astoria in the north to the southernmost southeast corner into California. The Oregon coast is dotted with a diverse set of small towns, lighthouses, parks, and overlooks all connected by a scenic highway. The highway doesn't tend to run as close to the water as Route 1 in California, but this means that many of the beaches are more private and wild. In many areas, the only way to get to these beaches is a hiking trail. Some of the more popular attractions are  Cannon Beach and Thor's Well, but we had a great time at lesser known attractions like the Hobbit Trail. I wrote about our first trip to the Oregon Coast, but haven't written much since then. I'd much rather be at the beach than writing about it!

We only have a couple more weeks here in Oregon. I'll be sure to get a couple more posts in before we head out.