Take one route there and another back, and that way you get to see a couple interesting areas. One route is east out of Portland on I-84 til the Wood Village exit. Head to the right, up the hill, past a few lights, and then take a right onto Burnside, which is HWY 26. Take a left there and take that out towards Mt. Hood. Make a stop at Timberline Lodge to check it out. Then take HWY 97 down to Bend. You will go through Warm Springs, which while baren, gives you a good idea of how much our terrain varies.
On your way back to Portland, from Bend go through Sisters. BTW, the Ski Inn there has great burgers;) Continue on that road past Detroit Lake, etc all the way to Salem. This is a very scenic route. At Salem, head north on I-5.
Both of these routes take roughly 3 1/2 to 4 hours, depending on stops and such.
I suggest the route through Salem and across the Santiam Pass into Sisters. It is very scenic and you will probably encounter less traffic. There aren't many service stations on that road though, so you might want to make sure that you fill up your gas tank in Salem just to be safe!
There is a fish hatchery about halfway between Salem and Bend (watch for "Marion Forks") which is a nice place to stretch and enjoy a picnic. There is also a little restaurant on the highway that has a nice deck overlooking the creek. During the summer the scenery is fantastic; my kids like to watch the hummingbirds.
thank you so much. I think we will take the Salem route since we have stayed at Timberline and Hood River before. We do plan on spending a day at Sisters but driving through first will still be nice. We are flying out of Bend/Redmond so will not be going back to Portland. any other ideas on stops to make or things to visit will be greatly appreciated. can't wait to go!
I am curious how you are managing the one-way drive from PDX to RDM. We want to do the same thing, but all the car rental companies seem to charge a lot for drop-off fee. Any suggestion for public transport between the cities would be helpful, as our friends in Bend have a big enough car. Greyhound is once a day and no good for connection with the train from Vancouver (arrives 2pm) and CO Breeze is expensive.
Since you are taking the Salem route, be sure to check out Silver Falls State Park; many beautiful waterfalls and amazing scenery. You could also check out the Oregon Garden in nearby Silverton.
There are MANY great options around Bend/Sisters/ Redmond. Some options:
Bend: High Desert museum, Cascade Lakes drive, Newberry Caldera sights (I especially like the butte and Benham Falls near the visitors center and the Paulina/East Lakes area).
Sisters: Hwy 242 and the otherworldly volcanic landscape.
Redmond: Smith Rock State Park.
Have a great time!
RJR those are all great ideas!
If you are in the area this year please be aware that Hwy 242 is under a seasonal closure - that may last all summer. There is still so much snow that the road is impassable and currently the estimate for reopening that route is mid to late July.
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