|Subject: Re: Oregon (long)|
Oregon has an incredible combination of climate zones & it's hard to know what you might enjoy the most.
But, if you visit Timberline Lodge at Mt Hood & then continue south on Hiway 26 to Madras, you'll be in the High Desert. The landscape is ponderosa pine, lava fields, junipers, warm days & cool nights. At Madras, continue south on Hiway 97. At Redmond, you have choices:
--go east towards Prineville where the desert landscape changes to more drama. Just north east of Prineville is Wildcat Wilderness, with an incredible hike to a free-standing basalt column called Stein's Pillar. Going further east probably isn't in the cards, but John Day area is home to stunning petrified forests & dramatically colored sandstone formations. Trust me, you won't find tons of folks over there!
--return to Prineville/Redmond, then west to the little town of Sisters, all done up 1870's style. Famous quilt show & way too many cutesy shops for me, but it's a charmer.
--south to Bend, a burgeoning town in the desert, all basalt, pine trees, the Deschutes River & hiking beyond your dreams. You could spend as little as half a day & as many as 3 days running the Deschutes in rafts. The river is still a little high, so there's some fun left, mostly Class 2 & 3 rapids. Just south of Bend is the resort of Sunriver, a wower of a place, very civilized, with horseback riding, canoeing, rafting, hiking, golfing, biking. I think Mt Bachelor skiing is finally done for the season, but it's a gorgeous mountain & all around, just off Century Highway, are scads of gem-like lakes with easy-access hiking. Also south of Bend is a delightful museum, the High Desert Museum, with fun dioramas about early settlers in the High Plateau, a nice open-air dining area, & walks & wildlife talks about the animals of the area. Great river otter show, kookie porcupines, & raptors.
--nip off at La Pine for a short drive east to Fort Rock, an ancient lava outcrop. Bark sandals were found in a nearby cave giving the earliest confirmed date of human habitation around a long-since gone lake, some 10,000 years ago. Careful of snakes.
--back to Hiway 97, head south & take the road into Crater Lake, Oregon's only National Park Okay, now you'll find some crowds, but it's well worth any hassle. The Lodge has been restored & it's excellent.
--head west on Hiway 230 down the Rogue River to Ashland. Take in a few plays, visit nearby Jacksonville for concerts under the stars, run the upper Rogue River.
--now go west to the coast, thru Grants Pass. Nasty twisty road, but so very scenic. The mountains here are metamorphic, not volcanic, yielding a totally different feeling. There are awesome hikes down the Rogue from Galice & river rafting is pretty good from here too.
--drive north along the coast. If you keep to the coast, it could take 4-5 days & only make you want to come back. The further north you go, the more traffic you'll find. Bandon is a quiet, pretty little town on gorgeous beaches. Might as well scoot on up to Florence, explore Old Town, play in the Sand Dunes National Monument, hike around Siltcoos or Cleawox Lakes. Next would be Newport, Keiko's home for a few years. Terrific museum. All along this coast are beaches, campgrounds, parks & coves. Heceta Head lighthouse is so well-known, you'll recognize it in an instant. At Cape Perpetua is a good interpretive center & some nice day hikes. Most of the hinterland is National Forest & in Oregon that means you can camp anywhere. The back country is temperate rain forest with old-growth cedar, fir & spruce. This is "Sometimes a Great Notion" country. You'll eventually get to Seaside, terminus of the 126-mile Portland-to-Coast relay walk & Hood-to-Coast relay run every year at the end of August. 1500 teams of walkers & runners & all their families end up partying on the beach. We train all year for both the relay & the party! End of the road is at Lewis & Clark's Ft Stevens, a good interpretitive park & Astoria, a town founded by Scandanavian fishermen. From there, it's an easy drive back down the Columbia to Portland.
With all this, you still will have missed the northeast corner, Wallowa country, that looks more like Switzerland than anything else, & the remote high desert in the far southeast corner where antelope, bear, deer, & tons of birds in the spring & fall are to be found. Then there are the hot springs in the deep canyons in the Strawberries, the old gold mining area of Horse Heaven, & Hell's Canyon.
Whew. I guess I'll head off to the coast for some hiking & camping this weekend, I've got myself so psyched.
Gail In Eugene