Oregon: Naturally impressive

North of California lies the big country, writes Eli Orzessek.

Oregon Coast

Take a road trip down the coast which is lined with hiking trails, lighthouses and great golf courses and you‘re sure to find something that takes your fancy along the way. Start in Astoria and jump on US Highway 101. History buffs will have a great time in this port city, with lots of museums and landmarks to explore — including the famous 112-year-old shipwreck of the Peter Iredale. Further along, take a stop at Cannon Beach — it‘s great for surfing, hiking and whale-watching, as well as being a filming location for 80s‘ movie The Goonies. You‘ll also want to make a stop at the Tillamook Cheese Factory — but save room for snacks. Explore the Oregon Dunes National Recreation area and enjoy a feed of fresh seafood in the small town of Bandon.

Cannon Beach on the Oregon Coast. Photo / Christian Heeb facebook twitter email linkedin google-plus whatsapp pinterest reddit

Crater Lake National Park With intensely blue water, Crater Lake

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is the deepest in the United States at about 589m. Native Americans witnessed its creation 7700 years ago, after a violent eruption caused a tall peak to collapse. If you‘re visiting in summer, take a bike ride around the rim, or try a hiking trail or boat tour. In winter, visitors can embark on guided snowshoe tours with a ranger or try out some Nordic skiing on the trails. However, the lake is often invisible due to clouds and fog — but you can check out the National Park Services‘ webcam at nps.gov/crla before you leave to be sure there‘s a view when you get there.

Crater Lake National Park in Southern Oregon. facebook twitter email linkedin google-plus whatsapp pinterest reddit

Portland

Of course, no trip to Oregon is complete without spending time in Portland. Find out why it‘s known as The City of Roses by checking out the annual Portland Rose Festival at Tom McCall Waterfront Park, or stop at the International Rose Test Garden. Bookworms will love getting lost in Powell‘s City of Books — a true destination bookstore that‘s well worth travelling to — which holds more than 2 million books for sale. Satisfy your sweet tooth at the famous Voodoo Donuts, or whet your whistle at one of the city‘s many breweries — Portland is arguably the craft beer capital of the world. For more local delicacies, stop by the Portland Saturday Market at Tom McCall Waterfront Park — with about 350 stalls, you‘ll find something to take your fancy, whether it be food, local art, clothing, toys or pet supplies.

Voodoo Donuts, Portland. Photo / Getty Images facebook twitter email linkedin google-plus whatsapp pinterest reddit

Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway

If you‘re looking for an introduction to cycling in Oregon, Willamette Valley is the way to go. Relive Oregon history, admire the tranquil scenery and sample the agricultural bounty of the area on the nation‘s first officially Scenic Bikeway. The trail follows its namesake river through Oregon‘s famous hop farms, vineyards and quaint little towns — and the temperate climate encourages year-round biking. Champoeg State Park marks the bikeway‘s northern point then the route then passes through Oregon‘s capital city, Salem, and ends at Armitage County Park and campground.

Biking in South East Oregon. Photo / Russ Roca facebook twitter email linkedin google-plus whatsapp pinterest reddit

Try a Dungeness crab

If there‘s one thing you need to eat while visiting Oregon, it‘s this tasty local crab that‘s as big as your head. The Dungeness crab season generally kicks off around December, but you don‘t need to try to catch one yourself to enjoy this delicacy. Head to Norma‘s Seafood and Steak in Seaside — they serve up some of the best in the state, as well as delicious crab cakes. Or try Bell Buoy of Seaside for a mouth-watering crab melt — and grab some fresh crab from the adjacent fish market.

Bend Ale Trail

Head to the little mountain town of Bend and take on the largest beer trail in the west. With more breweries per-capita than any other city in Oregon, Bend has been dubbed “Beer Town USA”. Pick up a passport at any of the participating breweries and collect stamps along the way — once you‘ve visited all 16, you‘ll receive a commemorative cup and bottle opener. You can do the trail independently — two-thirds of the breweries are within walking distance — or jump on board with a local tour, such as the Bend Brew Bus.

White water rafting

Oregon is home to many exciting rivers with incredible scenery and you can get right among it all by embarking on a white water rafting expedition. Oregon White Water offers outings on some of the state‘s most challenging rivers but the experience is also open to beginners. Trips range from half a day to two days, with overnight camping. The Rogue River is also considered one of the best river trips in the world, with abundant and diverse wildlife — including the occasional bear. A number of companies offer guided trips down the Rogue, including Momentum River Expeditions and Orange Torpedo Trips.

Whitewater rafting in Oregon with NW Rafting Co. facebook twitter email linkedin google-plus whatsapp pinterest reddit

Mt Hood

The highest mountain in the state, Mt Hood towers over northern Oregon, about 30km east of Portland. The dormant volcano is home to ski resorts, as well of plenty summer recreation areas and historic tourist attractions. Drive the Mt Hood Scenic Loop for a beautiful journey through rivers and mountains, taking in Portland, Hood River and Mt Hood National Forest. If you‘re visiting in winter, check out Mt Hood Meadows Ski Resort — the largest of the local ski hills — or the historic Timberline Lodge, used as the exterior of the hotel in Stanley Kubrick‘s The Shining. In summer, you‘ll find about 1600km of hiking trails to explore, with beautiful lakes, old-growth forest, waterfalls and alpine meadows to take in.

FACT BOX

GETTING THERE

has return flights to Los Angeles from $999, with connections to Portland. An 8-night Brew Oregon tour, taking in Portland, Bend, Grants Pass, Coos Bay, Newport and Pacific City starts from $4299pp, twin share.

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