Exploring Oregon from Coastlines to Cliffs


Sandy shores, mountain majesty and a fun college town highlight a trip to the Pacific Northwest

Are you trying to decide on whether to go to the shore or the mountains on your next road trip? Here’s some good news! You can do both in Oregon. Our trip began on the west coast of Oregon, where we stayed for an evening at the beautiful Driftwood Shores Resort in Florence. The local sand dunes are famous as the birthplace of American sandboarding and are well-known to dune buggy enthusiasts. In the evening, travelers gathered around campfires on the beach and watched the sun fall into the ocean. The twilight hours, with fires burning and seagulls serenading the beachcombers, became a lasting memory.

In the morning we drove down the coast to Coos Bay, the quintessential American logging town. A quaint boutique downtown with charming seafood restaurants welcomed you. We stopped at Sharkbites for a quick lunch of clam chowder and cod before driving over to the Mill Casino in North Bend. After making our donations to the casino, we made our way over to Shore Acres and marveled at the amazing geological formations that have made this area famous.

The famous cliffs at Coos Bay, remarkable geological formations as far as the eye can see

The famous cliffs at Coos Bay, remarkable geological formations as far as the eye can see.Photo courtesy of Oregon’s Adventure Coast: Coos Bay, North Bend & Charleston.

We journeyed farther down the coast to experience the heaven-like beauty of Bandon Dunes Golf Club, one of the premier public golf courses in the country, with stunning cliffside hole locations that rival Pebble Beach. Although we didn’t have time to play golf on this trip, we vowed to return for a three-day trip in the future to golf all five of the spectacular courses.

From Bandon Dunes we headed east and north to Eugene, a college town for the University of Oregon. As we made our way to Eugene, we passed a plethora of wineries that make up Willamette Valley. We vowed to return for a wine valley tour at another time.

We arrived in Eugene, a town that prides itself on sustainability. We chose to take a walking tour of the university and had lunch at Dux, the quintessential University of Oregon bar and grill, complete with Duck paraphernalia on display on every wall.

Dux restaurant in Eugene sports memorabilia from the University of Oregon

Dux restaurant in Eugene sports memorabilia from the University of Oregon

We had originally planned to head straightaway to Redmond on Route 126, but our server at Dux insisted we take the Route 242 old road, and we are so glad we did. Route 242 is a slow winding road that provided amazing scenic views as you wound up through Willamette National Forest on the western slopes of the Cascades. As you rose over the top of the mountains, you were greeted with two extraordinary sights.

First, the green forest turned black and grey, and you found yourself in the midst of what was once a massive forest fire. Burned trees scarred the landscape for miles until you came up over another rise to behold (and I do not use that word lightly) a volcanic lava field for as far as the eye can see. The Dee Wright Observatory, made from the surrounding volcanic rock, allows you to view the Three Sisters Mountains and 65 square miles of volcanic lava rock. It was a humbling sight that made you appreciate the power of the earth and the volcanoes that helped form much of the landscape.

We drove out of the mountains and onto Redmond, a charming town with an Old West feel. We took a picnic lunch out to Smith Rock State Park and spent the afternoon watching climbers ascend the face of Smith Rock, one of the most well-known and challenging climbing rocks in America. We also ventured out to hike a few of the scenic trails of the 650-acre park.

As we watched the sunset over Smith Rock, we realized that in short span of two days we experienced sandy beaches, rocky cliffs, a college town, the mountains and the high desert of the eastern Cascades.

Oregon is remarkable.

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