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Oregon recs needed

Grant Gholson

Thorn Tree Refugee
Posts: 14
Joined: February 11th, 2006

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Tags: oregon, Oregon Coast, Crater Lake
  • Added on: April 8th, 2014

I'm going to be driving up the California coast from San Francisco through redwood country and ending in Portland this August. I don't have unlimited days available to allot to the Oregon section of our trip, so for those with experience there--if crunched for time, is a drive up the Oregon coast worth sacrificing Crater Lake? Or is Crater Lake worth a day or so on its own, even if it means having to just take I-5 afterwards straight to Portland and skipping the coast drive?

We'll have a little one with us, and so while walking and a bit of easy to moderate hiking is in the cards, tons of hiking is out of the equation. Coast or Crater Lake?

Thanks for any and all advice you've got!


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Community Manager
Posts: 1416
Joined: February 10th, 2005
Location: Auckland, NZ

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  • Added on: April 10th, 2014
Crater Lake:
Pros: It's beautiful and well worth a look. Plenty of small, easy walks to do in the area.
Con: It can get crowded in summer so you may be sharing the drive around the lake with a bazillion other people.
Con: It's early in your Oregon drive so the rest is just I-5 which can get monotonous.

Oregon Coast:
Pros: It's beautiful and well worth a look. Plenty of small, easy walks to do along the way. :D The towns along the coast are also pretty cool/cute.
Con: It is a drive along a coast. It can get somewhat repetitive after awhile and the driver does not get to enjoy it as much as the passengers. It also takes a long time.

Where were you thinking you would head out to the coast?
Would going to Crater Lake, then hitting I-5 to Corvallis, drive to Newport and up to Lincoln City then on to Portland via McMinnville be a possibility with the time you have? That's a short stretch of coast but right along the water (from memory). From Corvallis you're looking at maybe 4 hours going that route.
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Began Gap Year Trip Six Years Ago
Posts: 2289
Joined: October 24th, 2004

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  • Added on: April 17th, 2014
Ditto Hydro's pros-cons lists (Hi Hydro!).

But, personally, I'd just take the coast route. My pros/cons:

The coast:
Slowly wandering up the coast has never bored me. The southern Oregon coast is quiet and strange. Hippies and hicks and fishermen. You can find organic espresso and dive bars unlike you'd find anywhere in the world (your child may be welcome in them). You'll be able to find great food that you couldn't expect in many places with so few people. I'm from Corvallis and my favorite part of the Oregon coast is from Florence to Pacific City. Sand dunes, fishing towns, and killer scenery. Cost effective with great amenities. Really, there are no cons to the coast route, except for the fact that you won't see Crater Lake. If you have a few days and can minimize the road time, you won't get bored and will always find something interesting. At least, I always have.

Crater Lake:
Crater Lake is amazing and beautiful, but it is so far out of the way that you will miss some relaxing meandering. Between the Redwoods and Crater Lake is a beautiful drive with few places to stop for site-seeing, but the camping is fantastic. Crater Lake is cool, but you won't need much time there. There are lots of other places around there to hang out and camp around there though. The I-5 corridor is a slog, but there are ways to break it down if you have time. There is amazing camping outside of Oakridge/Middle Fork of the Willamette River, or you could even cross the mountains and head north through Bend, if you have time. Really, the only con is the time you kill making the miles.

The only issue is your time frame. You won't be disappointed either way. How much time do you have? Is Crater Lake a must-see/bucket-list kind of place for you?


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Thorn Tree Refugee
Posts: 7
Joined: January 9th, 2013
Location: Eugene, OR

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  • Added on: April 23rd, 2014
Hi, I have lived in Oregon for the past 11 years. I have been to Crater Lake multiple times and bicycled the entire Oregon coast. Out of those 2 options, I would recommend the coast. Crater Lake is great, but for the ultimate experience, I think the coast wins. In my opinion, Oregon Coast is some of the most beautiful coast in the US and in some spots, in the world.
On a side note, if you are looking to get off the beaten path and see something different, you can travel up highway 97. This puts you on the East side of the Cascade mountain range and into a dryer more open space in Oregon. There are some interesting things to see on this route including Klamath lake, lava flows, views of the great peaks in Oregon and some scenic rivers. Plus, Crater Lake is not too far of a detour. Let me know if you have any questions about other spots to tour around Oregon, I may be able to help.

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