There are some great spots to visit between Cali and Oregon North Coast. To simplify matters, Sacramento is used as a starting point and Manzanita OR on the north coast is used as a destination point.
Oregon’s 3 primary north south routes:
Coast Route: Hwy 101 extends from Mexico to Canada. It is beautiful all the way, but also the slowest.
I-5 Route: The fastest way from Mexico to Canada border, but by-passes many views.
Hwy 97 branches off I-5 north of Mt. Shasta, California and runs through “Eastern Oregon” to the Columbia River, Oregon’s northern border. While Oregonians call it “Eastern,” it is more central Oregon. When Pioneers traveled the Oregon Trail, they were actually not coming to Oregon but to the Willamette Valley west of Oregon’s Cascade Range. Ever since that time, anything east of the Cascade Range has been called “Eastern Oregon.” Hwy 97 travels through the “High Desert” country of Oregon, very different from the views found on Hwy 101 and I-5. Fortunately for travelers who desire a mix of speed and scenic sights, there are cross over roads between Hwy 101, I-5, and Hwy 97. Loop back and forth to get the most from the time you have available.
Some of my favorite loops:
Coast Route, Eureka CA north to Granst Pass,
via Hwy 101 and Hwy 199, 165 miles direct but many sights to see will add time and miles.
The route passes Cali’s coast, Redwood National Park, historic Crescent City, then inland to Out n About Treehouse Resort, 300 Page Creek Rd., Cave Junction, 97523, Oregon Caves National Monument before reaching Grants Pass and I-5 junction. From Grants Pass it is 295 miles, about 5 hours to Portland OR. Hwy 217 to Hwy 26 can be taken to by-pass most of Portland. North Coast Oregon is just over an hour away after escaping Portland traffic.
Grants Pass OR to Gold Hill OR to Crater Lake,
via I-5 and Hwy 62, total 100 miles. The Vortex and House of Mystery at Gold Hill is a short stop and quite a kick to the senses. This area is the heart of Rogue River adventure activities including White water rafting, Jet boat and High wire Excursions; Crater Lake is a must see.
Crater Lake to Bend OR then Choose:
via Hwy 97; 90 miles, about 1.5 hrs. travels through Lava flows and cowboy country. From there loop west on Hwy 20, to Hwy 22 to see snow capped mountains of the Cascades before reaching I-5 at Salem. Salem is about 1 hr from Portland. Salem to Manzanita OR: Hwy 22 to Hwy 101: 101 miles, about 2.5 hrs.
Or continue north on Hwy 97 for more High Desert and take Hwy 26 to Portland with great view of Mt. Hood. The Hwy. 26 route from Mt. Hood to the North Coast can be a slow go due to Portland traffic. If possible take a day and do the Mt. Hood loop while staying in Portland. (Note: I found a nice place to stay, at reasonable price, Motel 6 in Redmond OR. The location makes a nice mid-point between Crater Lake and the next northerly adventure.)
Great Return Coast Route: Manzanita to Bandon OR
via Hwy 101: 217 miles, about 5 hrs., passes many great towns and views including the Oregon Sand Dunes, and Sea Lion Caves. From Bandon take Hwy 42 east for 2 hrs to connect to I-5. From there it’s about 6 hrs on I-5 to Sacramento CA.
Allow som extra vacation time. There are one day trips that are filled with interesting sights. The Mt. Hood Loop is one. Another is found by crossing "The Bridge" (Astoria-Megler) into Washington where Cape Disappointment, Long Beach, and the Willapa Bay await.
What to Bring:
Weather can be from 50 to 100 degrees. Most likely 70 - 80 degrees. BUT can change 30 degrees in 18 hours, and varies within a few miles. Wear layers. A rain coat always a good idea. Forget the umbrella; they are useless here. If you forget the raincoat, a large trash bag makes a nice substitute.
(Below) A few pics of things others have found necessary to bring to the north coast of Oregon.
“If It’s Tourist Season,
Why Can’t We Shoot Them?”
Oregon roads produce friction between regular users and visitors. Too many great places are on narrow roads with tight curves that climb hills. Because vehicles are unable to travel at the same speed up hill and around curves, Oregon highways are designed with “passing lanes” and “turnouts.” Too often visitors mistake these our passing lanes for the beginning of a freeway and speed up. WRONG choice. There is nothing more irritating than a car that travels at 50 or less in a 55 mph zone and then speeds to 65+ in the passing lane. Check your rear view mirror. If there are 4 or more cars on your bumper, move to the right lane of the passing section and maintain your 50 or less mph speed and allow those who know how to take the curves without stomping on the breaks to pass. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.
Just when the posted speed limit goes up, a sharp curve can make high speeds unsafe. Watch out for deer and elk even when there is no sign warning a crossing. Don't assume the guy in front has slowed because he's asleep. He might have sighed deer or elk along the road.