TRAVEL || NORTH AMERICA > UNITED STATES > pacific nw
The states of Washington and Oregon in the Pacific Northwest caters to outdoor enthusiasts. Known for its rainfall, this region has a diverse landscape of mountain peaks, dense forests, rolling hills, valleys, deserts, waterways, and ocean vistas. In Washington, the largest city in this region, Seattle sits on the shores of Puget Sound as a main port and gateway from the Pacific Ocean and Asia.
Portland, the largest city (and my childhood hometown) in Oregon, surrounds the Willamette River that flows through the city at its confluence with the large Columbia River, which divides Oregon and Washington and feeds into the Pacific Ocean.
Photo by peter bucks on Unsplash
The northwestern city is renowned for its artsy, laidback atmosphere, coffee culture, award-winning microbrews, and Pinot Noir wines.
Nestled in the far north of the Willamette Valley (pronounce: “will-AM-et”), the “Rose City” is home to a vast and diverse selection of quality restaurants, representing both local and global cuisine, as well as great cafes and breakfast hotspots. The city is also the perfect hub from which to connect to the outdoors.
RIVERS AND WATERFALLS
Green and Lush
Just east of the Portland are majestic Multnomah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge, where the Columbia River slices through the Cascade Mountains along Oregon’s northern border, shared with Washington.
Surf and Tide Pools
Along the far western edge, follow Highway 101 from Astoria in the far north down the entire 400-mile coastline of the Pacific Ocean. The Oregon Coast is home to fascinating sea life found in tide pools and open waters, home to seals and barking sea lions.
Get mesmerized watching migrating whales or by fierce ocean storms. Visit quaint beach towns and lighthouses. Fly kites or dig for clams on the beaches. Ride dune buggies in the sand dunes. Explore the beauty of thick, coastal rainforests. The Oregon Coast has an array of dramatic views and outdoor experiences for all ages.
Divided by the Cascade Mountain Range, which runs north and south, the more populous western third receives plenty of precipitation throughout the year to maintain lush, dense greenery.
Seen for miles on either side of the range are its white-capped mountain peaks: the northernmost Mount Hood looks at Mount Jefferson to its south; the Three Sisters stand together in Central Oregon; and then in Southern Oregon sits the 8,000-year-old caldera of Crater Lake, now the deepest lake in North America. To their east, the more sparsely populated eastern two-thirds is sunnier, and thus drier, with several points of interest, wide-open vistas, and high deserts.
Photo by Pam Riches on Unsplash
Images come to mind of pioneers who moved west along the dusty Oregon Trail, past the Snake River, which now creates the border with Idaho. Millions of years of geology are exposed in the Painted Hills found in its soil layered in hues of red, gold, yellow and black. Prehistoric plants and dinosaur remains can be found in the nearby John Day Fossil Beds and appeal to our inner paleontologist.
All About the Pacific Northwest
A magnificent day trip from Portland, Oregon
An exquisite cultural experience is found at the Lan Su Chinese Garden in downtown Portland, Oregon. This classical Suzhou-style walled garden has a series of events and activities happening daily. Visitors can take in a tour of the gardens; enjoy authentic Chinese tea and teacakes in the Teahouse; listen to music; attend festivals, workshops and lectures; experience classical Chinese art forms of poetry and calligraphy; participate in Tai…