A 3-Day Scenic Trip through Washington and Oregon
This was a fantastic 3-day driving trip to see Mt. Hood, OR (Day 1), Wallowa Lake and Joseph, OR (Day 2), and the Columbia Gorge, WA (Day 3).
The 900+ mile drive takes you past incredible scenery including rivers, mountains, lakes, high deserts, wind farms, apples, cherries, alfalfa, hay, neat towns, a few interesting cities, deep canyons, lodges and other great places to stay, good food . . . It is, as you might imagine, a LOT of driving, but since there’s so much to take in—so many awesome things for the eyes to see, the long distances don’t seem to matter much. What’s important is what’s around the next corner!
To Mount Hood in Oregon, one of the great mountains in the WA-OR corridor.
Great views of the mountain, forests, and Government Camp, the small mountain-side town, full of amazing alpine ambience.
Overnight at the Timberline Lodge in Government Camp, THE place to stay at Mount Hood.
Constructed of wood and stone, the lodge is, in itself, a place to explore. Phenomenal views surround the lodge. If you are a hiker or skier, depending on the season, there’s much to do here, and there’s also a few good places to catch meals and to people-watch in the town.
The interior of the lodge lobby has plenty of places to curl up with a good book and warm up by the fire in winter. In summer, it’s cool and pleasant and makes a great home base. An extra day and night can definitely be added here.
Opposite the lodge is an astounding view of Mount Jefferson in the distance. I joked with people, pretending I was a South African visitor and pointing in the distance to the mountain, commenting in an Arican-ish accent, “Don’t you think the view of Mt. Kilimanjaro is magnificent?” (The people gawked at me, paused momentarily, not knowing exactly what to think or say, grunted (to me) something unintelligible, and merely moved on.)
On to Wallowa Lake and the scenic ‘tourist, picture-postcard’ town of Joseph, Oregon.
The Wallowa Lake Resort is the home base to stay in while exploring the lake and surrounding area. The cabin was so perfect, it would have been alone worth an extra day just for the experience of it all.
Cabin 9 is, in my opinion, the choice cabin to stay in.
Roomy, modern, and central, it was comfortable and as much fun, in and of itself, besides visiting the lake and doing other activities. But, if I had been given just about any other cabin there, I might have told you the same about it as well.
I met the “mayor” there later in the day. But he minded me and others not in the least, for the mayor was none other than a deer, that seemed to command the right of way throughout the small town.
“Oh, the deer here are pests—into and eating your gardens and on your lawns,” lamented our waitress, Lagina (rhymes with “Regina”—r eh g eye nah—Saskatchewan—although I would not dare repeat her name aloud!)
The next day I thought I spotted the mayor again, this time motionless with his feet up in the air, laying alongside a roadway just outside of town, “OMG, I shouted—“THE MAYOR!” (Actually I’m pretty sure it was someone else and not the (to me) town “icon.”
The Old Town Cafe in nearby Joseph was THE place to breakfast (and I imagine, lunch and dinner as well)!
Whatwith two sized portions to choose from, it was one of the best breakfasts I’ve eaten in a long time. Joseph, the town, has a lot of places to explore.
Instead of only one night in the Joseph-Wallowa area, I would recommend that you add an extra day here, dividing it between the nearby lake and this picturesque town.
Finally on to the Columbia Gorge.
Among the best natural ‘must see’ places in Washington state, it’s the definite highlight of my whole trip.
This area of the Columbia River—by the town of George–is THE best overall vantage point of the entire Columbia River and Gorge, in my opinion.
It seemed to be quite the driving trek on my trip (being my Day 3 goal), but if you make a beeline from/to Seattle on I-90, it’s really only a couple of hours, in all. And the scenery is incredible.
The Columbia River Amphitheater is privately owned and was CLOSED the day I arrived! But, no worries! You can go next door for the view, anyway, and visit and maybe stay there at the Cave B Winery.
You can walk to the fence by the Amphitheater and sit on a blanket on the winery side of the fence–and gaze, and picnic, and (don’t tell anyone I said this) but you can even take in a concert—gratis—in this way!
Well, actually, LET ME TELL IT!
And this is what I precisely do in Issue No. 2 of my Travel Tales Monthly book-a-zine.
Well, actually, it’s about a band of thieves and ne’er-do-wells (just crazy stupit college kids getting away with things) who figure out how to attend a summer-ful of concerts at the Amphitheater without as much as paying a single raw red cent to do so!
Cave B Winery is, in itself, worth a visit and has plenty to explore. It’s a little pricey, maybe, but if you go off-season you can get it for less. It’s the best base of operations in this area.
Finally, it was a two-hour beeline back to Seattle, and only minutes in time to catch the Seattle Bainbridge Island ferry to back home.
What a great trip it was.
So, if you’re up for a not a little of scenic driving—which you can do in just three days—and I’d add an extra day or two, if I were you—and retrace the steps of the infamous—ME—for a memorable and near phantasmagorical escape-journey around Washington and Oregon.