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Oregon Summer 2020

Dh and I will be going to Oregon in a few weeks. I am sharing our plans as when I searched, I didn't find much info, and maybe someone else will be interested.

We unfortunately had a variety of trips cancelled due to Covid (5, to be exact!). We decided to plan a summer trip, that would be easy to cancel if needed, that would avoid big metropolitan areas.

If anyone has any input based on your knowledge of these areas, I'd appreciate it!

Reno: We are driving here and staying with friends.
Reno to Bend: Spending the night at a McMenamins brewery property-the Old Saint Francis School. Basically just a travel day.
Bend to Mitchell: stopping at 2 units of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument (The Painted Hills and the Clarno Units). Staying at the Oregon Hotel in Mitchell.
Mitchell to Baker City: visiting the last unit of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument (the Sheep Rock Unit), which is home to the Paleontology Center. Staying at the Geiser Grand Hotel in Baker City.
Baker City to Joseph: we are taking the "long way", following the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway. We are spending 2 nights in Joseph, staying at Belle Pepper's Bed & Breakfast. Plans are not definite yet....may visit the Nez Perce National Historical Park (if it's open), Wallowa Lake (taking the Wallowa Lake Tramway ), maybe visiting a distillery and wandering around town (it's called "Little Switzerland"). There is a walking tour of the bronze sculptures around the town.
Joseph to Hood River: staying three nights here but I have finalized where yet. We'll drive the Historic Columbia River Highway, stop at lookouts, visit a museum or two and maybe just have a relaxing couple of hours, reading and enjoying the views.
Hood River to Amity: We will take the long route and drive the Mount Hood Scenic Byway, stopping at the lodge at Mount Hood for lunch and the views. We'll stop in McMinnville and visit the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum (the Spruce Goose is there....my husband was a long time Lockheed engineer) and have dinner in McMinnville. Stay in a B&B in Amity: Belle Colina, We are booking a private winery tour, so we can enjoy the views and the wine and not worry about driving. Staying two nights here.
Amity to Grants Pass: We'll drive to Corvallis and have lunch with friends and then have dinner with friends in Grants Pass. Staying at another B&B, the Fiery Manor. In Grants Pass we'll have coffee at Dutch Brothers and find a couple of bears (I love finding them) from Bearfest and then head home.

I will say that the when I called and booked lodging, many were grateful that I was booking. Multiple places I booked are charging their winter rates (not summer) and offering other discounts.

I hope this is beneficial to someone.

Posted by
1770 posts

Your trip sounds great. If you have time leaving Baker City, the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center east of town is pretty interesting. For me, it would be worth the drive up there just for the site itself - on a hill with expansive views. I now see that the center is currently closed, but they say that "trails and open space areas outside of the building are still accessible."

Posted by
133 posts

2/3 of Oregon's counties are entering Phase 2 reopening on June 5. Portland
and Multnomah County is the one place that is not yet in Phase 1. Don't be surprised if no one is wearing a face mask or using social distancing. The more rural you get, the less the safe procedures are followed. I only see safe COVID-19 standards used at COSTCO, because they enforce it.

Posted by
1464 posts

It's a shame you don't have more time in and around Bend, as there are a lot of very worthy things to see in the area. With the limited time you do have, if you can squeeze in stops at one or more of the following places, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Also, in Grants Pass is the historic Grants Pass Pharmacy (https://www.grantspassrx.com/), which has an old fashioned soda fountain. If you like a great ice cream soda or chocolate malt, it's a must. Sadly, it's closed now, but maybe it will reopen by the time you are there.

Finally, if you have time to stop in Ashland, it's a charming town, home of a great Shakespeare Festival. And Lithia Park (http://www.ashland.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=14083) is a delight.

I think Oregon is one of the most beautiful states in the US. Have a great time!

Posted by
111 posts

If you have time leaving Baker City, the National Historic Oregon
Trail Interpretive Center east of town is pretty interesting. For
me,it would be worth the drive up there just for the site itself - on
a hill with expansive views. I now see that the center is currently
closed, but they say that "trails and open space areas outside of
the building are still accessible."

Janet, I will definitely add to my list! Some of my favorite books growing up were about the Oregon Trail (Patty Reeds Doll, Palace Family Wagon)

"In a few weeks...." Obviously some of these sights may still be
closed.
Kent, yep.

2/3 of Oregon's counties are entering Phase 2 reopening on June 5.
Portland and Multnomah County is the one place that is not yet in
Phase 1. Don't be surprised if no one is wearing a face mask or using
social distancing. The more rural you get, the less the safe
procedures are followed. I only see safe COVID-19 standards used at
COSTCO, because they enforce it.

Leonard, thanks for letting me know. I know one of the B&B's is only renting 3 of their 4 rooms and serving breakfast in each room, rather than in the common room. And another mentioned that guests could have room service without the typical fee, because they reduced capacity in their dining room. So, a few places do seem to be following guidelines.

It's a shame you don't have more time in and around Bend, as there are
a lot of very worthy things to see in the area. With the limited time
you do have, if you can squeeze in stops at one or more of the
following places, I don't think you'll be disappointed.The High Desert
Museum (https://highdesertmuseum.org/): currently closed, but check if
it reopens by the time you are there.Newberry Volcano and Paulina
Peak, with nearby lakes and nearby hiking trails: I especially enjoyed
the obsidian trail.Smith Rock State Park
(https://stateparks.oregon.gov/index.cfm?do=parkPage.dsp_parkPage&parkId=36): a
beautiful site with great hiking trails for all ability levelsAlso, in
Grants Pass is the historic Grants Pass Pharmacy
(https://www.grantspassrx.com/), which has an old fashioned soda
fountain. If you like a great ice cream soda or chocolate malt, it's a
must. Sadly, it's closed now, but maybe it will reopen by the time you
are there.Finally, if you have time to stop in Ashland, it's a
charming town, home of a great Shakespeare Festival. And Lithia Park
(http://www.ashland.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=14083) is a delight.I think
Oregon is one of the most beautiful states in the US. Have a great
time!

Lane, thanks the suggestions. We are only spending the night in Grants Pass because I go there more often. A dear friend had the nerve to move there and leave me, so we've made many trips there before.

Posted by
5262 posts

There's a nice Best Western Plus in Hood River, right on the river near the bridge, but a short drive to downtown. The Columbia Gorge Hotel is a high-end choice -- I haven't stayed there but friends have loved it. And nearby is the Westcliff Lodge, offering "spectactual views of the Columbia" for what seems like a reasonable price. We stayed at Westcliff some years ago (when it was called Vagabond Lodge) and liked it a lot. I can't vouch for the new ownership but I'd love to see a "spectactual view." ;-) The Gorge Hotel and Westcliff Lodge are on the highway just east of Hood River.

Looks like a great trip, I hope you can pull it off. I agree with the previous poster about the Oregon Trail center at Baker City, even if it's not open the setting is, well, spectactual. ;-)

Posted by
278 posts

My son works in Portland and he says things are still closed up. The media advertises them in Phase 2, but it's still open.

Posted by
222 posts

From Reno if you haven’t seen it already stop at Crater Lake on the way to bend for part of the day! And agree with other on spending more time in Bend!

Posted by
181 posts

Wallowa Lake and the tram are beautiful, but nothing like a little Switzerland. The Bend area might be worth more time as the Gorge Historic highway is closed last I heard. The hiking in the gorge is amazing but not open. Smith Rock State Park, near Bend, the hiking is also amazing, but I think the best trail is still closed. This week we were just told our county, we can drive to the beach. Still no public parking or toilets open at any parks. I have found one county park we can walk at, but you better use the toilet before we leave home because toilets are closed, I guess the wash your hands memo is lost to the possibility of the virus sitting on some surface in the public bathrooms. I have seen the Spruce goose when it was in California and in McMinnville. The museum is ok, we have been to quite a few air and space museums around the country, but at this point it is something to do if it is open. A quick google says it is still closed. Which is what seems to be the case for most things. Oregon is really shut down unfortunately. Probably need to see what is open right before you go. I love a good road trip, enjoy what you can.

Posted by
247 posts

Sounds like a great tour of Oregon. My only suggestion is that if you have never been to Crater Lake NP, it is very beautiful and really unique in the world. At the Old Saint Francis School in Bend be sure to see the pool /hot tub room, it has great decoration. We went to Painted Hills last fall and loved it. I'm sorry to say that the town of Mitchell is not very picturesque.

Posted by
745 posts

......and.....no one mentioned the Full Sail brewery in Hood River? Take the tour.....you get a cool beer glass at the end. While in the restaurant, they will customize your sampler requests to anything on their board including short run brews designed by their employees. I'd recommend the Backwoods brewery in Carson.....even better, but they are across the river in the Evergreen state.

Posted by
1277 posts

If tillamook creamery is open, its a good addition to spruce goose day

Posted by
313 posts

Another vote for Full Sail in Hood River.

John Day Fossil Beds are wonderful. Mitchell, not so much. We have stayed with friends, so lodging and a place to eat were not an issue. It is a bump in the road, don't expect much.

I live in wine country. Amity is okay, but I would prefer to stay in McMinnville. More to do and dining options without having to drive. Wine country is sort of open, but Oregon is still limited as to what counties can or cannot do.

We stayed at the Westcliff a couple of years ago. Spacious rooms, pay for a river view room. Far enough off the interstate that noise is not an issue. They had a quirky restaurant on site - White Buffalo. Slow service but food and wine choices were great.

Avoid Portland. Isn't open yet but most of the rest of the state is in Stage 2 if you avoid the metro area, which it sounds like you are doing.

Tillamook Creamery is a nice spot and visit, but sort of out of the way for being in McMinnville.

Have a great trip!

Posted by
710 posts

Visit Ember's Brewpub in Joseph. It's right on the main drag through town. This was my grandparents house in the 60's and 70's and I spent a week there every summer. Very strange to go back there today. I would kill for the canned raspberries my grandmother would make and store in the walk-in pantry off the kitchen. Good memories.

Posted by
1613 posts

When you are in Hood River be sure to visit WAAM, Air and Auto Museum. We spent over three hours there and did not see it all. Acres of antique planes, cars, military and memorabilia stored indoors. There is a hanger and workshop in the back to keep the planes flying and cars running but they are not open to the public. If your husband can get a pass back there I’m sure he’ll love it.

Posted by
5786 posts

You have a good plan and have received a number of good suggestions. Oregon's coronavirus situation is a changing one and most of Oregon (other than the Portland area) is moving to a less restrictive Phase 2 reopening allowing higher risk activities effective this week. https://govstatus.egov.com/reopening-oregon

Check on Crater Lake and the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center's stauts as you get cose to travel. I too would suggest Oregon's only national park, Crater Lake NP, driving northbound from Reno to Bend via Highway 62 to the Rim Village, than continuing north on the West Rim Drive, exiting north and via Highway 138 eastbound to Highway 97 north. However, the Park is currently still on coronavirus shut down and the West Rim Drive is likely still closed by snow. Similarly, I would also suggest the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center near Baker City, but the BLM facility is also still in a Coronavirus shutdown.

Glad to see that Belle Pepper's Bed & Breakfast in Joseph is still open. We were there nine or so years ago.

The soaking pool at Bend's St. Francis School is is a must do. The Deschutes Brewery is no longer a small brewery but still a craft brewery and worth a tour if you are a craft beer person. More on craft beer: https://traveloregon.com/things-to-do/eat-drink/beer-breweries/

BTW Duch Bros coffee is based in Grants Pass but their stores are of the drive through variety.

Posted by
695 posts

Since you are staying in Amity you might check out the Brigittine Monastery (https://www.brigittine.org) just Southwest of town.
Have you visited a Dutch Brothers? If not, don't get your hopes set too high.
Mount Hood Railroad (https://www.mthoodrr.com) runs tourist trains out of Hood River; check first to see if its open. Have a great trip!

Posted by
5786 posts

Update on Crater Lake NP.

https://www.nps.gov/crla/learn/news/crater-lake-national-park-begins-to-increase-recreational-access.htm

Beginning June 8, 2020, Crater Lake National Park will reopen access
to:

Munson Valley Road, West Rim Drive, and North Entrance Road, weather
permitting. East Rim Drive and Pinnacles Road continue to be closed as
they usually are this time of year due to snow.

Park Entrance Stations - Beginning Monday, visitors are encouraged to
visit https://www.recreation.gov/sitepass/2647 to pay entrance fees in
advance. When paying at the entrance station, credit cards are
preferred.

Rim Village Gift Shop - Other concession facilities and services will
open in phases. Please check the Crater Lake Hospitality website at
www.travelcraterlake.com for the latest information and updates. Rim
Village Comfort Stations

Posted by
237 posts

As several others have said, Multnomah County is not yet open. Yesterday we applied for a stage one opening, effective on June 12th. Stage two can't happen for at least three weeks after that, so it can't start any earlier than the 4th of July weekend. Since the Old Columbia River Highway is located in Multnomah County it may take a while for it to reopen. Authorities have suggested that the Gorge may be one of the last places in Oregon to reopen so, depending on when you are planning to travel, you may have to modify that portion of the trip. You can catch a glimpse of Multnomah Falls as you drive by on I-84 but whether you'll be able to stop is anybody's guess right now.

Posted by
111 posts

Just a quick update. We left on Saturday and enjoyed staying with our friends in Reno (Highlands Ranch area). The wild horses around the area were a sight to see. We also enjoyed Virginia City. While we just passed through Bend (spending the night), we enjoyed our lodging at the Old Saint Francis School. Their soaking tub was amazing and we enjoyed the beers at the brewery.

We went to al three units of John Day Fossil Beds Monument. We took short hikes at all three and the sites were amazing. Mitchell was a very small town, like a block long. We were there basically to spend the night, so it was fine.

We are in Baker City tonight l staying at the Geiser Grand hotel, which is lovely. I enjoyed all of the animal sculptures downtown and we arranged to purchase vodka from Glacier 45....a cinnamon vodka, blood orange and coconut. I checked the website and am thrilled that the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center is now open TH - Sun. I know that things may or may not be open, but am thrilled that this museum is open. As a child, I was kind of obsessed with the Oregon Trail, and I had no idea this even existed!

I will post another update later.

Posted by
1665 posts

You've picked a great time and route visiting my beautiful home state. Hopefully you're keeping an eye on the local news about recent changes in our phased opening plans. Multnomah County (Portland) is finally phase 1 starting today, it's probably going to be nuttier than usual. Starting next Wednesday, June 24, the Portland Metro and Willamette Valley counties have mandatory mask requirements in most public indoor spaces (grocery, shops, etc.).

In the gorge, unfortunately many of the historic highway sights I believe are still closed. I hope you're able to see some of it. The current list of open/closed sites is here http://readysetgorge.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2020/06/Gorge-Site-Status-June-15.pdf If all else fails, you can do the Fruit Loop drive up towards Mt. Hood - I believe some of the fruit stands are open and you can't go wrong with the view from Timberline Lodge at Mt. Hood if you want a longer drive.

While in Amity, Brooks Wine is excellent. But pretty much you can't go wrong with any winery, the choices are extensive. There are also plenty of excellent choices for wineries near Grants Pass.

Enjoy your visit!

Posted by
111 posts

Another quick update. We left Baker City and spent two nights in Joseph. Really loved our B&B, Belle Peppers.
We enjoyed waking around town, exploring shops and seeing all the bronzes around town. They were beautiful!
We really enjoyed the tramway at Wallowa Lake but didn’t realize how muddy the trails would be (there was still snow on the ground near the trails!)
The Joseph Railriders was so much fun....I highly recommend this fun activity.

We then drove to Hood River. While many lookouts were not open, we did enjoy the drive along the Columbia River. Actually, all of our plans here were changed around, but we had a fun time. We ended up at the Western Antique Aitomobile and Aeroplane Museum.....wow! What an amazing museum. We also did much of the “fruit loop” and many sites were open.

We drove to McMinnville today and went to the Evergreen Air and Space Museum....another wow! Both museums are highly recommended.

We go home in a couple of days and I will update with the last of our adventures.

Posted by
111 posts

My final update. We stayed at Bella Collina B&B and I cannot say enough how much I enjoyed it! Amazing views, beautiful rooms and an awesome host, Sherwood. His breakfasts were fantastic. While we planned to go into McMinnville for dinners, we were just tired and ate in Amity both nights. We had good pizza and beer at the Trade Street Taphouse and then Mexican food from El Toro Loco, who delivered to our B&B.

We used a driver for winetasting. Our absolute favorite was Varnum Vintners. Cyler is the owner (along with his wife) and was our wine host.

We spent our last night in Grants Pass at another B&B, Flery Manor. Off the beaten track, but lovely rooms and grounds. Would definitely stay again. We at at Taprock Northwest Grill for the views of the river, with friends. Enjoyed their beer selection and food.

We came home last night and while we had a fun time, I was happy to be home. I'd be happy to answer any questions if anyone is thinking of traveling to Oregon in the near future.

Posted by
111 posts

Coffee at Dutch Brothers?

LOL, it just didn't work out.......since we generally stayed at B&B's we didn't need coffee in the morning. Next trip!

But, I did get to see some bears in Grants Pass, including one I hadn't seen before. That was nice.