With its eastern edge in the prairies and its western edge on the coast, Oregon offers a truly unique chance to see the beauty that makes up this incredible country. If you enjoy traveling by car and exploring the countryside, there is no nicer state to visit.
Oregon has dozens of beautiful and fascinating scenic routes available to travel, many of which are steeped in rich cultural heritage. The following are only a few of the routes that are available for exploration.
Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway
Ancient volcanic activity and glacial movement formed a network of over 150 lakes through central Oregon. The Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway passes through Deschutes National Forest and takes travelers on an eye widening adventure. Visit Lava Cast Forest or take a walk and explore the Newberry Crater. With camping, water sports and many other activities available, there is something for everyone along this picturesque byway.
Historic Columbia River Highway
Taking a walk in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark, the Historic Columbia River Highway offers visitors the chance to explore the land far more easily than in days gone by. Starting in Portland, Oregon you will travel through small towns, enjoy the view at places like Chanticleer Point, experience a variety of thrilling waterfalls and take a trip through time at the Gorge Discovery Center and Wasco County Museum.
Mt. Hood Scenic Byway
With a range of geological wonders to please any traveler, the Mt. Hood Scenic Byway takes travelers through the last leg of the Oregon Trail. Visitors explore valleys and a temperate rainforest, and get to see three of Oregon’s most amazing natural wonders: the Columbia River Gorge, Multnomah Falls, and Mt. Hood. The year-round skiing available at Mt. Hood makes this is a great destination for the active snow-loving adventurer.
Outback Scenic Byway
Although teachers drill students about the harshness of the long prairie trek across America, nothing can compare to seeing it yourself. The Outback Scenic Byway takes travelers across the rough and rugged land through which pioneers struggled in their voyage westward. With volcanic craters and lava flows to explore and Old Perpetual, Oregon’s only geyser, it is easy to see how powerful nature can be. Towering 2500 feet above the valley floor and the byway, Abert Rim is the largest geological fault in America. Fort Rock is another memorable landmark that makes the Outback Scenic Byway one of the most fascinating passages through the state.
Pacific Coast Scenic Byway
For those who love the sea, the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway gives visitors to Oregon the chance to explore the coastline through a series of small towns filled with museums, overlooks, historic bridges and of course lighthouses. Places worth stopping include Astoria, where Lewis and Clark finished their westward journey and wintered before returning home, the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, which contains a museum and is open to the public, and the Oregon Coast Aquarium, which is filled with both indoor and outdoor exhibits filled with aquatic life.
West Cascades Scenic Byway
Offering some of the best up-close views of Oregon’s waterfalls, this 220 mile long byway gives visitors an alternative to the usual route between Eugene and Portland. The West Cascades Scenic Byway passes through stunning old-growth forests with many walking trails available for your viewing pleasure. Winter visitors can enjoy stopovers at places like the Breitenbush Center, which offers the chance to soak in a natural hot spring.
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