“The Wilderness holds answers to more questions than we have yet learned to ask.”
— Nancy Wynne Newhall

The Pacific Northwest (PNW), sometimes called Cascadia because of the mountain range, is a place that brings up images of raw natural beauty, forests, endless coastlines and rain. But all this rain means that the nature is incredibly lush and in a shade of green that I had almost forgotten about.

This is a report from a 9-day road trip, across Oregon and Washington, that took us up the Coast, all the way to Seattle, and Olympic National Park, and then back down through the mountains, inland, visiting Vancouver (in the state of Washington not Canada), Bend (Oregon), Crater Lake National Park, and the Upper Klamath Lake.

Driving up the Oregon Coast: Secret Beach and Natural Bridges

We start by the Southern part of the Oregon coast, spending the first night at the Harris Beach Campground near Brookings. We watch the sunset at a place called Secret Beach (which is not so secret), and then the next morning, hiking around an area called Natural Bridges.

Port Orford, Bandon, Coos Bay, Newport

We then drive up the coast, stopping in Port Orford, Bandon and then Coos Bay for some seafood including some great oysters, and rented a couple of ATVs to explore the famous Oregon Dunes.

Finally, we end the day in Newport, to have an excellent dinner at a restaurant called Clearwater. We camp just south of Newport.

The next morning, we check out the town again and the Yaquina Head Lighthouse which started to be operated in 1873 and is the tallest lighthouse in Oregon.

Tillamook & Cannon Beach

We make various stops along the coast, for instance at Depoe Bay which has the US’ smallest naviguable harbor.

We also make a stop to visit the Tillamook cheese factory which proves to be quite interesting and we also end up buying some great aged cheddar cheese.

Finally we check out the big rocks on Cannon Beach.

Astoria and the Columbia River Maritime Museum

We make it to Astoria and visit the Columbia River Maritime Museum. Astoria is at the mouth of the Columbia River and the area is infamous for its Bar crossing, which is one of the most dangerous areas in the world for boats. The nickname of the area is the “Graveyard of the Pacific” because of the wrecks that have happened here. The currents, weather, fog all contribute to making this place really hard to navigate. The museum is really great and very interactive.

We finish the afternoon by doing a beer tasting at one of the local breweries.

Washington: The Olympic Peninsula & Hoh River Trail

After spending a great couple days in Seattle which I did not document too much in terms of photography, we go hiking with our friends Katherine and Stefan in Olympic National Park, doing the Hoh River Trail. This trails goes deep in the Hoh Rain Forest which is a temperate rainforest. The name is quite accurate as this place gets between 3.5 to 4 meters of rainfall each year! (up to 12 feet). This place is magnificent.

We end up experiencing both great sunshine and rain which gave us the complete experience. We go all the way up to Elk Lake which was about 16 miles in (so at least 32 miles total in 3 days).

We also end up seeing a bear which seemed to really enjoy our campground but he was very peaceful and was more interested in plants than in us.

Olympic Peninsula: Lake Crescent

To make our way back to Seattle, we complete the loop of the Olympic peninsula and make a stop at Lake Crescent which has a magnificent blue color in the sunshine and has a really cute and old lodge.

Taking the ferry back to Seattle

We catch the ferry back to Seattle from Bainbridge Island, which is a perfect way to end the day and complete the trip.

Driving back through Vancouver, WA & Bend, OR

On our way back South, we make a stop in Vancouver, Washington to see some friends, and also check out Fort Vancouver which was a fur trading post during the 19th century.

Afterwards, we make our way to Bend, Oregon, driving through the Cascade mountain range, and near Mount Hood.

Bend, Oregon is a lovely little town which is a great base to explore the outdoors. It is surrounded by mountains, lakes, hot springs.

Crater Lake National Park

We make our way to Crater Lake which is still pretty heavily covered in snow (and only some parts of the park are open). The views of the lake are absolutely incredible and it makes us want to come back at a later time to hike the whole rim, and perhaps take a boat ride on the lake itself.

Last stop: the Canoe Trail on Upper Klamath Lake

We end the trip by spending a couple hours floating around the Upper Klamath Lake and exploring an area that has been set up to be a Canoe/Kayak trail on the water. The lake and marshes are a habitat for an incredible amount of colorful birds.

That’s it for now. Thank you for reading!

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