Portland OR area questions

Discussion in 'Other U.S. Destinations' started by dhammer53, Mar 11, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. dhammer53
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    dhammer53 Gold Member

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    We're headed to PDX mid-May for a week. We're going to spend 3 nights in Portland, and 3 or 4 nights on the road, visiting the Gorges along the Columbia River and the National Parks south of there.

    Would it be wise to stay in Portland midweek or on the weekend to get better hotel rates?
    Is Portland more fun on the weekend?
     
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  2. Bay Pisco Shark
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    Bay Pisco Shark Gold Member

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    I used to frequent Portland - not so much in recent years at all. Hotel pricing would be higher on the weekdays - typical business (week) leisure (weekend) city pricing. It also has a great walking city center, so I'd advise you stay quite central, so you can walk back to your hotel [​IMG]. I have been wanting to eat at Irving St. Kitchen. They have wine on tap, too :D Will you please eat there and report? The folks behind the restaurant are from SF and put out a great product here.
     
  3. intueri
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    intueri Silver Member

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    Weekend pricing in Portland is definitely cheaper, on average, but the difference isn't as much as some cities. That said, I would definitely spend the weekend there. The symphony is fantastic, there are plenty of great restaurants, and the Saturday Market and Farmer's Market are top-notch.
     
  4. Gardyloo
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    What national parks to the south? Only one is Crater Lake, and that's quite a distance from Portland.

    I too would spend the weekend around the city, and the rest of the time touring around.

    Note however that many things are easy day trips from Portland, so you wouldn't necessarily need to break camp. From a base in or near Portland you could visit the Columbia Gorge, Hood River Valley and Mount Hood, Maryhill, Mount St. Helens... and be back by nighttime. In mid-May there will still be a lot of snow at higher elevations, e.g. Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood and probably the rim at Crater Lake if you go down there. However the waterfalls along the Gorge will be quite impressive with runoff from the mountains ( http://gardyloo.us/latourellefallshdr1.jpg ) and it should also be quite springlike in, e.g., the Hood River valley, which can be quite beautiful. ( http://gardyloo.us/20100509_85a.jpg and http://gardyloo.us/20100509_90a.jpg )

    You might check out some of the McMenamins places for unique lodgings - www.mcmenamins.com - in particular the Edgefield in Troutdale at the west end of the Gorge, also the Kennedy School in Portland. Not downtown, but fun and convenient. Portland is very much a city of neighborhoods; downtown is nice but IMO the neighborhoods have more to offer.
     
  5. intueri
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    intueri Silver Member

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    About six hours... but oh, so beautiful:

    034.JPG
     
  6. dhammer53
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    dhammer53 Gold Member

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    Thanks folks. What's the estimated drive time between The Dalles and Crater Lake? Any suggestions on places to stay at CL? Interesting stops along the way?

    From CL back to Portland, how long is that drive? I'm in no rush, and may detour to Willamette Valley and visit a winery or 2.

    Is it really 6 hours intueri?
     
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  7. Gardyloo
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    Six hours would be pushing it; I'd allow 7. Plus, in May you probably won't be able to use the north access nor could you drive around the crater rim road due to snow - there's typically still 6 feet of snow on the ground at the park visitor center in May (high elevation.) You can only get in on the south road, meaning you'd have to overshoot the lake then come in from the south. From The Dalles probably around 5 1/2. Read the Park Service's winter/spring newsletter here: http://www.nps.gov/crla/parknews/newspaper.htm

    We were there early in the season a couple of years ago - around June 10 IIRC - and there was still a lot of snow on the ground and you couldn't see much of the lake owing to the fog (and of course the rim road was still closed.) The only accommodation in the park is the park lodge; however there is ample lodging back up US 97, in Sisters and Bend, say 2 - 2 1/2 hours from the park. Both Sisters and Bend are nice towns - becoming something of arts and retirement centers. There are a lot of condos etc. in the area.

    Not trying to rain on parades, but you might find the whole exercise a bit time-consuming; in far less time you could be out at some of the nicer places along the coast, or at (equally snowy) Mt. Rainier or Mt. St. Helens. May is a tough time in the high Cascades.
     
  8. dhammer53
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    dhammer53 Gold Member

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    Gardyloo,

    If I read you correctly, I can't access Crater Lake if I'm coming from The Dalles? So that means I have to head south out of my way, and then head back north to the park? Should I even bother visiting this time of year? I'm not married to seeing Crater Lake. I'm sure there are other options.
     
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  9. Gardyloo
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    That's correct - the main access during "winter" (whatever that means, but usually it includes most of May) is via Oregon SR 62, not SR 138. You need to overshoot the lake going south (a long way farther south if you're east of the lake, or not so long an "overshoot" to the west) in order to "double back" north to the south shore of the lake, where the visitor center and lodge are located. From The Dalles you'd go quite a distance out of your way.
     
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  10. dhammer53
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    Back to the drawing board. Thanks.
    My new options are:

    -heading east towards Walla Walla.
    -heading to the coast via Willamette Valley
    -northwest OR or Southwest WA.

    Decisions decisions. If anyone has any imput, I'm open to suggests since I'm not married to any one destination.
     
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  11. Bay Pisco Shark
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    I'd spend some winery time and some coast time. Some of the smaller coastal communities are worth a stop or stay, and even during inclement weather, they can be cozy and/or provide a worthwhile experience. My mouth started watering while posting this reply, as I am remembering a few meals I had at http://www.riverhousefoods.com/ - I haven't been there for likely 15 years, so I have no idea if it is still any good, but it was once a great little find.
     
  12. intueri
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    intueri Silver Member

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    Well, it took me a bit under 5hrs, but I wouldn't offer that as a guide...

    (Also, I forgot the north entrance is closed during winter.) All things considered, I'd recommend the Willamette Valley/ Coast option. May is a wonderful time to visit the wineries in Yamhill County, and you can head through to Lincoln City (I'd skip) and down to Seal Rock/ Newport/ Yachats (my favorite)/ or Florence.

    Mt. Hood is also a quick hour from Portland, and worth a visit. Bend/ Sisters would also be on my list if you like outdoor sports and hiking; May is a great time of year-- warm but usually not too hot.
     
  13. Crater Lake is difficult to travel to in May. I have visited in late June, and found that some trails are still closed due to snow and ice. Although, my daughter loved having a snowball fight while wearing shorts, with temperatures in the 70's! The Oregon coast is beautiful, and if you have never been, it would be well worth the trip.

    Or, if you really wanted to visit a national park, Olympic National Park in Washington would not be that much further of a drive than Crater Lake. There are beautiful old growth forests, hot springs, coastal regions, and snow-capped mountains. It is a very magical place!
     
  14. dhammer53
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    On a trip up the coast from San Francisco, we went as far as Yachats (stayed at a B&B on the water), before heading east to EUG for a flight home. My wife and I like the idea of seeing the coast in the northwest part of the state.
     
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  15. Gardyloo
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    You could do a nice loop - through the Yamhill County wine country, then out to the coast around Newport, up the coast to Astoria and over the bridge to the Washington side, explore the area around Willapa Bay, then east along the Washington side of the Columbia (very interesting, historic area) to Longview, then either shoot for Mt. St. Helens (probably snowy at the visitors center, but still impressive IF it's not socked in) or else head back to Portland.

    A bit more driving (a couple of extra hours each way) could also get you to Kalaloch and the Hoh River valley rain forest in Olympic National Park. The scenery along the Pacific coastal strip of the park (e.g., Ruby Beach, Rialto Beach, etc.) is as good (IMO better) as the best parts of the Oregon coast, but much wilder. The Hoh rain forest in May is amazing - trees disappearing into the mist, with only Spanish moss hanging down; much of the underbrush has been eaten by the (enormous) Roosevelt Elk that overwinter on the valley floor, so you get surprisingly long views under the canopy. Quite a unique environment. Some of the elk will be wandering around the Hoh visitor center, too - they seem like dinosaurs lurking in the shady forest.

    http://www.craigwolf.com/news/2007_08_01_archive.html
    http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/photos/rainforests-temperate/
     
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  16. dhammer53
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    Thanks for the suggestions. I just got a AAA OR/WA book and map. Now that I have the above suggestions, I have some homework to do. Thanks.
     
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  17. MSPeconomist
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    The coast is a great drive but it's not fast. Fortunately there's an inland parallel interstate that goes right to Eugene, so if you get tired of the coastal route or it gets late, you can head east on various major roads to hit the interstate and get to Eugene fast.

    Do you plan to rent a car for the entire week or only the days away from Portland? If the latter, the additional rental car charges could override any hotel savings by being in the city during the weekend.
     

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