Spotlight on the Pacific Coast Highway, Segment 4 – Crescent City, CA to Portland, OR


             Just like California, the Oregon coast offers delightful and dramatic scenery along its entire length. There are several picturesque beaches, such as Cannon Beach, which take your breath away with their photogenic sea stacks and their wild surf. The Oregon Dunes area is also particularly attractive. There are several towns which demand exploration. Certainly Newport is one of these. For an interesting side trip, check out the insectivorous plants at the Darlingtonia State Natural Site, just north of Florence.

              For a very special detour, travel west on Rte 199, just north of Crescent City and then north on Rte 62 from Medford to Crater Lake National Park, in southern Oregon, which contains America’s deepest lake (almost 700 meters or 2000 feet in depth) and known around the world for its beautiful, deep blue color.  The crater is actually the caldera of Mount Mazama which erupted about 7,700 years ago leaving this steep-sided bowl which eventually filled with water.  A 53 km (33 mile) road (Rim Drive) encircles the lake and offers numerous overlooks and access to walking trails.  Boat rides to Wizard Island, an attractive, conical land mass within the crater, are available during the summer season and leave hourly from Cleetwood Cove. However, access to the boat dock requires a very strenuous walk from the parking area.             

              Probably the best place to stay on the coast is the delightful city of Portland, Oregon, located at the junction of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers, in the northwestern part of the state.  It enjoys a picturesque setting near the base of Mount Hood, a snow-capped volcanic peak, just to the east.  Portland became a Mecca for “hippies” and other alternative-living Americans, back in the 1960’s, and has retained an avant-garde lifestyle since then.  One sees evidence of this heritage in the Portland Saturday Market (under the Burnside Bridge) and in the dress of some of the locals.

            In the western part of the city is Washington Park, which has several notable attractions.  Here, the visitor will find the International Rose Test Gardens, which display row after row of beautiful roses, in various colors and varieties. Also in the vicinity, higher up on the hill, are the Japanese Gardens, an oasis of solitude and contemplation.

            The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is located east of Portland, Oregon, on the border between Oregon and Washington.  The Historic Columbia River Highway offers access to the area’s attractions.  Perhaps the most dramatic of these is Multnomah Falls, the highest waterfall in Oregon, and one of the highest in the United States, at 310 meters (620 feet). An interpretive center at the base of the falls provides information and displays regarding the entire area. There is a trail which allows access to the falls and a bridge which traverses the gorge created by the falls, about halfway up. This unusual situation provides some interesting photo opportunities.


            Gary’s Gem:

                        The view from Washington Park’s Rose Garden of Portland’s skyline, with Mount Hood in the distance, is spectacular. 



            Gary’s Gem: 

                        Head for “The Watchman” overlook for breathtaking views of the lake, Wizard Island, and the surrounding countryside.


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