4-5 days in Eugene OR and surrounding areas

Old Apr 30th, 2022, 10:46 AM
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4-5 days in Eugene OR and surrounding areas

Hello! My family and I (2 adults, 1 10-year-old) would like to take a 4-5 day trip to Oregon this July. We've never been before. We are thinking of making our base in Eugene, because there are cheap flights from where we live (Burbank CA) to Eugene. What we're hoping to get out of the trip -- some sightseeing by car, some kid-friendly hiking, good food and drink, and seeing some of the beauty that is Oregon, maybe including some of the coast and some of the mountains. One idea we had was to just get an AirBnB in Eugene for most or all of the trip and make day-trips from there. Another option would be to hop around a bit more, staying at different places (though we don't want to spend too much time in the car, given the length of the trip). I would love to hear any suggestions people have for how to structure our trip. And also, is Eugene a fun/nice/interesting enough town to make as our base for the trip? Thanks much!
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Old Apr 30th, 2022, 02:05 PM
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Three Sisters Wilderness. About 90 miles east of Eugene lies the Thee Sisters Wilderness which contains three mountains (the Sisters) which are all over 10,000 feet. You can hike the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail to the mountains.

Cape Perpetua Scenic Area @ Yachats. About two hours from Eugene. This is the most popular tourist destination in Oregon. Towering 800 feet over the Pacific Ocean, the Cape Perpetua headland is the highest viewpoint accessible by car on the Oregon Coast. A great overlook with wonderful views of the Pacific. Over 2,700 acres of unique coastal habitat and 26 miles of trails through the lush temperate rainforest.

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Old Apr 30th, 2022, 02:57 PM
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My suggested route starting from Eugene: OR 126 west to Florence. Spend 2-3 days on the coast including the Oregon Dunes NRA. Head back east on OR 38 from Reedsport. About 5 miles east of Reedsport, see some Roosevelt elk at the Dean's Creek Elk Viewing area. At the east end of Elkton, take OR 138 to come out on I-5 at Sutherlin. Take I-5 south to Roseburg and then the east section of 138 as far as Diamond Lake.
You can find lodging at Diamond Lake if you can't get a room at the Crater Lake lodge. Spend a full day seeing Crater Lake NP. Take the boat trip out to Wizard Island if it is available.
When leaving Crater Lake exit by the north entrance and take 138 to US 97. Head north on 97 (gas up in Chemult) and then take OR 58 over the Willamette Pass. West of the pass, you can go to see Salt Creek Falls. OR 58 will bring you out on I-5 just south of Eugene.
Eugene is a great college town (UofO) but I would say you can see a lot more by making a loop instead of several day trips from there. Next time you come to Oregon, try flying Avelo (Monday) to Redmond (RDM).
FYI: Avelo owns 3 planes. They fly to many destinations from their base in Burbank. I don't know how many pilots they employ.
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Old Apr 30th, 2022, 04:34 PM
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I agree with Tom that doing a loop is a better use of your time. My first choice would be to spend a few days in Bend. So much to do in Central Oregon. There is a great family resort close to Bend- Sunriver Resort. There are bike rentals for riding on miles of paved trails, horseback riding, boat rentals so fun for the whole family. A short drive to Mt Bachelor where you can take a gondola to the top. There is a restaurant at the top- you might need reservations, not sure. A nice kid friendly hike is to Benham Falls. You probably can find a variety of rentals at Sunriver- houses, condos, etc. It is just a short drive to Bend which is a busy little city.
There are lava caves to explore, Lava Land where you can wander through the volcanic area- or take a guided trip with a ranger held several times a day.
From there you drive to the coast and maybe stay in Newport or Yachats. The Adobe or Fireside motels in Yachats are good ocean front motels to stay at.
If you go to Crater Lake instead there are many waterfalls on 138. Some are just a short walk from the parking lot, some a bit longer. Susan Falls is one of my favorites.
There are lots of choices.
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Old May 1st, 2022, 07:56 AM
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Eugene is a nice enough town but using it as a base from which to explore the mountains or coast on day trips is probably going to make for more time in the car than you'd like. Except for Florence, most destinations on the coast that might be of interest are a good two hours wheels turning, and the same goes for places east of the mountains like Bend or Sisters.

...some sightseeing by car, some kid-friendly hiking, good food and drink, and seeing some of the beauty that is Oregon, maybe including some of the coast and some of the mountains.
I tend to be a broken record on this but the above makes me think immediately about the Mount Hood/Columbia Gorge area instead of the southern Willamette Valley. I don't know what constitutes "cheap flights" from BUR to EUG, but a quick glance at ITA suggests to me that the prices to fly into Portland - PDX - in July aren't that much higher. And in my view - personal opinion of course - the touring options from a base farther north, such as Hood River or various towns on the Oregon or Washington sides of the Columbia, are considerably more numerous and more convenient.

For example, you can see the many waterfalls along the Oregon side of the Gorge, or drive the Hood River "fruit loop" through orchards, past wineries, "U-pick" farms, etc. You can visit iconic Timberline Lodge on the side of Mount Hood (maybe take the "Magic Mile" chairlift up to the permanent ice fields on the big volcano) or chill at Lost Lake or Trillium Lake, with Mount Hood reflected in the water. Your child will get a big kick out of the Bonneville fish hatchery (say hello to Herman the Sturgeon, a huge and ancient fish, viewed through underwater windows) where he/she can feed the baby trout with food bought for a quarter. Or you can drive an hour east to the funky Maryhill Museum of Art, full of fascinating exhibits including a world-class collection of Rodin sculpture, then follow with a visit to the weird copy of Stonehenge just down the road, overlooking the great river from the cliff tops. Google the places on this map - https://goo.gl/maps/AwGbTRbWVCH6CQr38

You can make a day trip to the coast; Cannon Beach is about as far from Hood River as Yachats or Newport is from Eugene, or of course you could split your time between the Gorge and the coast. Note there may be minimum stay requirements in popular destinations like Cannon Beach.

Like I say, nothing against Eugene (I'm a UO graduate) but I do think you might find that someplace closer to PDX would present more opportunities.
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Old May 1st, 2022, 09:03 AM
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Quote: "Like I say, nothing against Eugene (I'm a UO graduate) but I do think you might find that someplace closer to PDX would present more opportunities"

McMinnville, located just south of Portland, is a college town which has a lively downtown.

Last edited by PrairieHikerII; May 1st, 2022 at 09:08 AM.
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Old May 1st, 2022, 10:02 AM
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Thanks to everyone for their thoughts - super helpful. Since Avelo also flies to Redmond OR, now I'm thinking maybe that's a better option. So if you'll bear with me, new question - if we did that and had roughly five days to spend, would you suggest staying in Bend the whole time and making day trips? Would that give us enough to do and see? Or should we do a couple nights in Bend and go somewhere else for a couple nights that would allow us to see more of the state? We probably wouldn't want to drive more than 2 or 3 hours from Bend for that second leg of the trip, since we have to come back to fly out of Redmond again. Thanks much!
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Old May 1st, 2022, 11:28 AM
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Could you fly into Redmond and out of Eugene? Or vice versa. Might be easier to do a loop that way. You could spend a couple of nights in Bend and the coast that way. When I go over, I usually stay in Sunriver at a friends home. I could easily find enough things to do to keep me busy for 5 days whether I stay in Sunriver or Bend. Another fun thing to do is raft. Suncountry Tours has a short and easy raft trip called the Big Eddy and I am quite sure 9 year olds are allowed on that trip.
Central Oregon is a summer playground.
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Old May 1st, 2022, 02:54 PM
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Originally Posted by MichaelEvan View Post
Thanks to everyone for their thoughts - super helpful. Since Avelo also flies to Redmond OR, now I'm thinking maybe that's a better option. So if you'll bear with me, new question - if we did that and had roughly five days to spend, would you suggest staying in Bend the whole time and making day trips? Would that give us enough to do and see? Or should we do a couple nights in Bend and go somewhere else for a couple nights that would allow us to see more of the state? We probably wouldn't want to drive more than 2 or 3 hours from Bend for that second leg of the trip, since we have to come back to fly out of Redmond again. Thanks much!
I'm taking my DW to RDM tomorrow for her flight to Burbank. If you do fly into RDM, don't think that you "have" to stay in Bend. Try for a place in Sisters. You can drive over Rt. 242 and stop at the Dee Wright Observatory and have a great view of a large stretch of the Oregon Cascades including the Three Sisters Wilderness. From Dee Wright you drop down to the McKenzie River which will lead you to Springfield and Eugene.
Avelo only flies to/from RDM on Mondays so you're stuck in Oregon for a week unless you fly one way to one and one way back from the other which causes a logistic problem with the rental car.
It is your choice whether you want to visit Crater Lake NP or a short section of the Oregon Coast or both.
I live about 50 miles south of Bend about halfway between Bend and Crater Lake. Last month I/we drove about 5-6 hours NW to the town of Seaside on a 4 day trip.
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Old May 4th, 2022, 08:47 PM
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Well I have never been to Bend and really like Eugene (fly into that airport from Seattle to see family in Corvallis). Rather than base in Eugene though, I'd just pick up the rental car and go out and stay on the coast the 4-5 days. Just drive back maybe for one overnight and your flight home.
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Old May 17th, 2022, 10:03 AM
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(leaping in / aka: "guessing" ) What would a ten-year-old be most inclined to like, about this whole potential ordeal... (and a 10yo from California, surely plenty familiar enough with ocean by now)

First impulse: mountains Once one gains the sense for where they ARE with regard to mountains, while in central Oregon... there aren't too many spots like Timberline Lodge for a kid of such age to be smacked by the immediacy of the biggest mountain in Oregon. (also, anyone who has seen the movie, The Shining, can appreciate Timberline Lodge for a different reason)
(I know you're from California, but, when you get to Timberline Lodge, forget the easy stairway, and take the short elevator ride instead... the mileage to be had with a kid, for the "in the event of an earthquake - push this button" button... is potentially considerable) (maybe they have those in considerable numbers in California - I don't know - but to be oddly reminded of the possibility is eerie, especially on an elevator on which someone spends SO little time, or more popularly no time at all )

Also, I recall having been on the short-ish path from Prineville (going toward) Redmond where I rounded a curve and all at once, ten or eleven unique mountain peaks came into view, scattered about the horizon (surely the sisters were 3 of them).

It should be noted that some of the really awesome paths of old and future were recently (2020) decimated by wildfires, the evidence of which will still be prominent as you're driving around.

(I paused near a random-ish highway sign last fall... saw two town names on said sign... and decided to drive through both... but one of them had been entirely flattened by the fires) (I was only passing through them because of the names of each, but anybody 'local' there surely must've though that I and every other passer-by turned up only to gawk at the fire damage, because there seemed to be zero other reason remaining to leave the highway and pass through the town)

With that warning/caution... IF I were going to stay in Sisters, or Bend, I would still make a point of driving over McKenzie Pass, even though I now know of the mixed-impressions I'd be in for.

If your trip targets Crater Lake, be SURE to teach the kid beforehand about the origin of Crater Lake... because a 10yo mind could be at just the right place to appreciate such a thing.


Again, since you're from California... I don't know that the Oregon Coast is that meaningful as a place to visit... particularly as you are finessing your trip to match pre-determined airport thoughts. And with "4-5 days" you can perhaps better allocate your time going north and south while remaining mostly to the east of the mountain range, that in addition to properly pausing your own ideas to accommodate things enjoyed by the ten-year-old.

The ten-year-old can wait 15 or 40 years before planning a vacation done at break-neck speed where he/she never gets to stop and smell the roses, if so inclined.
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Old May 28th, 2022, 04:14 PM
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Thanks so much to everyone for all the valuable input! Really appreciate it! I think we are narrowing down our plans. We decided to forgo Bend in order hit some other places high on our list. So our current plan (not entirely finalized yet) is --
Fly into Eugene, rent car and head for the coast
2 nights in Newport - explore the central coast
2 nights in Cannon Beach - explore the northern coast - maybe day trip to Astoria
drive to Hood River...
2 nights in Hood River - maybe lunch at Timberline one day, explore the Columbia Gorge area
2 nights in Portland - cuz we've never been and want to check it out
back to Eugene to fly home

(I know we pass through Portland to go from Cannon Beach to Hood River, but we structured things this way because our last two nights are 4th of July weekend, and it's much easier to get a hotel in Portland at that time than it is in Hood River.)

If anyone has any further advice or wisdom, or thinks we'd be better off tweaking our plan in some way, please let me know!

Thanks again to all you good people!
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Old May 30th, 2022, 10:29 AM
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I was coming here to say that Tom and Sunbum's suggestion of Bend and central OR was ideal, but I see you have decided against that

Two nights in each of those locations on the coast is nice, but I don't think you are going to find that unique since you are from southern CA. Cannon Beach may be difficult to even a find lodging at this late date, and most places require 2-3 night minimums.

On that same note, Hood River and the gorge are going to be difficult to find lodging as well. I was born and raised in OR and live just a couple hours away now. We are headed back to the gorge in a week and even when I tried booking places months ago, literally everything was booked for our time there. It is a family event, so I did not have hotel luxury of changing our dates. Anyway, we could not find a hotel that fit 3 people for less than $500/night. We ended up with an Airbnb without indoor plumbing, to give you an idea, and I was booking months before. To add to that, the busiest stretch of the old scenic highway is now on a permit system this summer. You have to have a permit to even drive it, much less stop at Multnomah Falls. They are timed permits, so you do not have the luxury of winging it for when you want to arrive as you are not allowed in before your permit time and they give you one hour to show up, so you really have to plan your other activities around that to arrive within your one hour window. These permits allow you in, but did not guarantee you parking, which is always an issue at the more popular places such as Multnomah Falls. So keep all of this in mind if this is what you are set on. The permits are sold 2 weeks in advance and you can purchase them at recreation.gov .

Whatever you choose, I would make reservations like yesterday.
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Old Jun 8th, 2022, 09:31 PM
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Tiz all true about Multnomah Falls crowds... I was there a few weeks ago, on an odd Tuesday... and while there was, barely, parking at Mulnomah Falls, many of the lesser waterfalls which are otherwise very much worth stopping at... were so jam-packed with cars, both IN the lots and along nearby roadways, that we had to skip a couple of them entirely.

At least Multnomah Falls is such that you can pause in the parking lot and SEE a good view of the falls - not as true for the others.


Definitely take a few minutes and go to Stonehenge, even if it's out of your way. The perspective you'll gain about the more famous one cannot exactly be had anywhere else in North America.

(and it IS a life-size replica of the original... though with all of the stones still standing)

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Old Jun 9th, 2022, 05:16 AM
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NoerhwestMale--I agree, Stonehenge is interesting. Great views from there too! We are heading to Multnomah Falls tomorrow. I have our timed permits, but still dreading it. The only reason we are doing it is because one person in our party has not been there.
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Old Jun 9th, 2022, 04:02 PM
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I believe there is a Hop On Hop Off Trolley to view the Columbia River Gorge now. Might be the easiest way to see it.
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Old Jun 13th, 2022, 06:40 AM
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sunbum--There is. We saw it on Friday, but did not see it Saturday or yesterday, so not sure what the timing of that is. The permit system worked well, but we did see many people turned away. Friday and yesterday morning were torrential rain, and even with the weather the parking lots were at or almost at capacity, depending on the location. We still saw a couple vehicles parked along the highway, and they were getting ticketed.
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