[Up] Mt. Hood, near Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort
If the first couple days of the central Oregon adventure served as a fantastic prelude, the following journey completes the rich taste of all the grandeur and diversity the Pacific Northwest has to offer. Until we’ve made the whole drive from Bend to Hood River, and then stretched westward through the Columbia Gorge and the Pacific coastline, we have yet comprehended the true spirit of Oregon. In a matter of just a few hours, the road has taken us from the high desert to snowcapped peaks, and to fertile valleys. Almost anywhere we turn, there’s a backdrop of mountains beckoning, and the many wonders awaiting us!
Leaving Cascade Lakes with extreme reluctant, we started north along Highway 26, then entered The Mt. Hood Scenic Byway. From the Timberline Lodge to the lush Hood River Valley, and points far beyond, Mt. Hood hovers dreamlike in the distance – an iconic postcard of Oregon alpine environs.
As we climbed to the 6,000 foot elevation, there stands the stone and wood edifice, Timberline Lodge, a gem hand-built by legions of laborers and craftsmen. We watched the video describing the monumental task of building the Lodge and were amazed by the magnificent efforts those intelligent craftsman had put in for this masterpiece.
[Up] Timeline Lodge, at Government Camp
[Down] inside Timberline Lodge
Heading north on highway 35, we came to the Hood River Valley, a splendid patchwork of orchards, vineyards, and farms. Along the road, there were numerous fruit stands where the farmers offer the greatest of Oregon’s bounty – Bartlett, Bosc, and Comice pears, Pippin apples, huckleberries, and more. Fertile volcanic soils and the temperate climate have made this so-called “Fruit Road”.
[Up] red maple brightening in sunlight, near Parkdale
Passing Hood River Valley, we turn the way west venturing towards the next much expected scenic road – the Historic Columbia River Highway. Mile after mile of breathtaking vistas along the Columbia Gorge, any way we look at it, it is a true marvel – for its incredible scenery, rich history, and visionary engineering. It was worldwide lauded for spectacular waterfalls, architectural gems, and the ever-shifting perspectives of the Gorge.
[Up] Cascade Locks, near Bonneville Dam
Gracefully winding up along the Columbia River, we were soon surrounded by mossy tree limbs, the greenery enhanced by a series of remarkable and unforgettable waterfalls.
[Up] driving along the historic route 30, hence the Historic Columbia River Highway
[Down] the grandfather of Columbia Gorge waterfalls – 620 foot Multnomah Falls
[Up] fall colors light up Multnomah Falls
[Down left] Horsetail Falls, plummets close enough to the road to mist my lens
[Down right] Wahkeena Falls, graceful and beautiful
Following the way through the scenic byway, we completely lost our time pressing the shutter buttons. Although unfortunately missed the sunset, we caught the gorgeous dusk on the Columbia River and the Gorge from the Vista House at Crown Point, and from the Portland Women’s Forum Scenic overlook at Chanticleer Point.
[Up] chasing the dusk on the Columbia River Gorge, from Crown Point
[Down] inspiring view of the Gorge and the mountains of the Cascade Range, from Chanticleer Point
The next day, we rise up a lot earlier than the sun, determined to catch the sunrise on top of the Larch Mountain. Winding in the dawn through the 14-miles narrow and only road leading to the Sherrard Viewpoint, we were chasing with the sun, counting our chances of getting there before it. The sky got brighter and brighter and we ran up like crazy to the point. Our hearts were pounding, hands were freezing, and the wind just wanted to blow us away… All of these vanished when the first sun ray shine through the ridge of Mt. Hood, alongside the incredible five mountain peak, altogether, bathing in the fields of gold!
[Up] sunrise on Mt. Hood, at Sherrard Viewpoint on Larch Mountain
[Down] incredible 5 mountain views:
(clockwise in the following photo) Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, Mt. Jefferson;
(the photo beneath) Mt. Hood
[Up] Mt. Hood beckoning in the fall color
[Down] trees and plants, in the playful lights and colors
That was an incredible morning we just spent! While the city of Portland was just waking up, we waved goodbye to the beautiful Columbia River and headed to the Oregon’s pacific coast. We hit the ocean at Lincoln City and turned on to Highway 101, began our journey winding past marshes, seaside cliffs, lush agricultural valleys, and wind-sculpted dunes. The large rocks along the coast are homes to seals, sea lions, and shorebirds abound in the countless estuaries. Scanning the horizon, for the very first time, I spotted the telltale “blows”, the white puff of vapor from the gray whale’s blow-hole, at Yaquina Head.
[Up] Oregon Pacific Coast, near Devils Punch Bowl
[Down] shorebirds on the rock formation
[Up] lighthouse at Yaquina Head, where I spotted gray whales
[Down] stairs leading to the oil lamp at top of the lighthouse
[Up] looking down through the stairs from the top of the lighthouse
[Down] Mo’s Clam Chowder, not sure if it’s the best, but we sure enjoyed very much
[Up] Yaquina Bay Bridge, at Newport
[Down] One of the 9 lighthouses along the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway, near Sea Lion Cave
There is too much to explore in our 4-day adventure. Other than those mountains, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, gorges, wildflifes and coast views that I have captured, the majesty of Oregon simply cannot fit into the widest lens of anykind.
I encourage, as you finish reading the two Oregon trip posts here (here’s Part I of it), pack your things and a free mind, go to Oregon, and experience all kinds of wonders awaiting you!
And of course, we will definitely do it again!