This summer I spent six weeks riding through the northwestern States. Although it was impossible to cover each in detail, I’ll post highlights over the next few months. I hope they inspire travel plans for you.
Much of the Oregon coast is one big highlight. It begs you to stop frequently at well-placed turnouts to breathe in the salt air, take in the rugged splendor and marvel at the power of nature.
These are but samples from my route.
10 Motorcycle Highlights of Western Oregon
- Columbia River Gorge. This river is massive! I followed it right across the top of the State from where is is broad and lazy looking, west as it cuts through canyons and heads out to sea. I followed the same trail as Louis and Clark did on the north (Washington) side of the river, a much preferable option than fighting the headwinds and traffic on the Oregon Interstate. There’s a reason they call this the windsurfing capital of the world.
- Highway 6. An amazing route west of Portland that takes you twisting and turning through the forests of the Cascade mountains through scenes similar to this – with very little traffic.
- Haystack Rock. This is the highlight of Cannon Beach. It juts 235 feet above the water and is home to many species of nesting birds, including tufted puffins. It’s part of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge.
- Aviation Museum Hangar. Just south of Tillamook sits this converted World War Two Blimp hanger, touted as the largest wooden structure in the world. It’s been converted into a private aviation museum, although earlier this year, the owners announced they’d be moving the museum to Madras in central Oregon by 2016.
- Cape Perpetua lookout & tidal pools. Twenty-six miles of interconnected hiking trails branch out from the Visitor’s Center to take you through old growth forests and spectacular views. A tunnel under the highway gets you right down to tidal pools where you can see starfish, anemones, sea urchins, mussels, crabs and maybe even an octopus.
- KOA Bandon. One of my favorite campsites of the trip. Owned by a rider, this was like staying in an enchanted forest with tent sites tucked into the trees.I only wished I’d had longer than one night there.
- Heceta Lighthouse. Built circa 1894, it’s reputedly one of the most photographed lighthouses in the world. Whether that’s true or not is hard to say, but it is outstandingly picturesque. It looks tiny here but it can be seen for miles.
- Nature’s Corner Cafe & Market, Reedsport. After a month on the road, eating the best road food I could find, this small restaurant had outstanding fare. Delicious, healthy and fresh – it was a real treat.
- Redwood Highway. If southern Oregon is as far south as you plan to go before heading inland, do yourself a favor and take Highway 199 – The California-Oregon Redwood Highway. You can reach it from the Pacific Coast Highway 23 kilometers into California. You’ll be treated to 60 kilometers of curves through the sanctity of a giant redwood forest. Here’s a rare straight stretch on a section of road, similar to the section I rode.
- Maple Leaf Motel in Shady Grove. After a stiflingly hot, smoky day, it was cool in a number of ways to see the Canadian Maple Leaf at this homey motel in small-town, backwoods Oregon. I received a wonderful welcome, it was a lovely spot and there was a great Mexican restaurant nearby.
Have you traveled the Oregon Coast? What were your highlights? I’d love to hear about them. We all would!