Portland, the Oregon city with the largest population in the state, is located 60 miles east of the Pacific Ocean at the northern end of the Willamette Valley. The Willamette River flows through the center of the city, dividing neighborhoods into “east” and “west”. Ten miles from downtown Portland, the Willamette River flows into the fourth largest river in the United States; the Columbia River, which establishes the boundary between Oregon and Washington. Much of the city is flat, though included in the city are the foothills of the Tualatin Mountains, which are known to locals as the “West Hills”. Portland offers a myriad of things to do, from a lively music scene, museums, art and cultural activities and outdoor recreation opportunities.
The proximity of Portland in the western United States means that it is an excellent place to begin an eastward-heading road trip, even if only for a few days. Reno, Nevada, for example, is about 530 miles away from Portland and is known for its casino and tourism industry. There is a lot to do in Reno, which is near three bodies of water; Lake Tahoe, the Truckee River and Pyramid Lake. Skiing and snowboarding are popular during winter months, and warmer weather in the area is ideal for hiking, biking and spending time on the water.
The route from Portland to Reno offers many things to see and do. When looking to embark on a road trip for a few days, traveling between these two cities is sure to be a fulfilling adventure!
Less than a two-hour drive from Portland is Eugene, a city in Oregon that has a variety of things to offer. As you make your way through Eugene, consider stopping at Hendricks Park. The oldest city park in Eugene, the park includes 78 acres and is located on the south side of the city and features a rhododendron garden with 6,000 varieties of the plant.
In addition, the park has a number of Douglas fir trees that are 200 plus years old; something you would expect to see in the wilderness, not within the limits of a city. Also found in the park is the northern trailhead for the Ridgeline Trail, from which you can enjoy a 12-mile hike through the area south of Eugene. The park can be visited year-round.
After leaving Eugene, continue heading southwest for about 50 miles until you reach McCredie Hot Springs, which is located near Oakridge, Oregon. McCredie Hot Springs, located within the boundaries of the Willamette National Forest, includes several pools that are fed by a hot spring and are next to the Willamette Pass Highway on each side of Salt Creek.
You will usually find two to four pools that have walls of rock with silt in the bottom. The size and number of pools will vary by the season and the follow of Salt Creek. The temperatures of the pools fluctuate, so be sure to test the water out before jumping in. Visiting McCredie Hot Springs is free and can be used during daytime hours only. A small paved parking lot and a bathroom are available next to the Springs.
Less than an hour and a half from McCredie Hot Springs is your next stop; Crater Lake National Park. Located in southern Oregon, the park is the fifth oldest National Park in the United States and focuses on the caldera of Crater Lake and its surrounding area. The lake is the result of an ancient volcano, Mount Mazama and is the deepest lake in the US (1949 feet deep at its greatest depth).
Crater Lake National Park offers numerous hiking trails, as well as campgrounds where you can spend the night and enjoy getting to know the Park. Boat tours of the lake are available, and you can swim in the lake as well as fish in the Park’s streams. Taking the “Rim Drive”, which is 33 miles long, will allow you to access observation points along the rim, where you can take in gorgeous views of the lake.
As you continue on your way to Reno, after about an hour and twenty minutes on the road you can visit the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Located in northern California (close to its border with Oregon), the Refuge includes 39,000 acres of land within the Tule Lake Basin. The Refuge was created in order to preserve the habitat for birds and other wildlife and the water within its confines is home to endangered species of fish.
There is a visitor center at the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters, a wildlife trail, an auto tour route that is ten miles long, a canoe trail that can be explored during July through September and a Discovery March, which is a wetland that offers three habitats that attract a number of different species of wildlife. Keep your eyes out and you may encounter mule deer, pheasants, greater yellowlegs, ducks, geese and more!
Once you are back on the road, a two-and-a-half hour drive will take you to the Lassen Historical Museum, located in Susanville, California. The museum offers a window into the history of Susanville and is home to 160 years of items that are related to the history of the area. View rare photos, and see unique items from the area, beginning in the days of the gold rush.
Next to the museum is Roop’s Fort, which is the town’s oldest structure, having been built in 1854 as a trading post and ranch. The fort is also known as Fort Defiance, due to its role in the Sagebrush War of 1863, which was a conflict of three days where residents of Susanville protected themselves using it. Lassen Historical Museum is a great way to learn about the area’s history while taking a break from the road.
From the Lassen Historical Museum, you have less than an hour and a half of drive time before you reach your destination of Reno. During your visit, you will find opportunities to enjoy culture, sports, and outdoor recreation. Check out the Nevada Museum of Art and the National Automobile Museum (which includes the 1973 Cadillac owned by Elvis Presley), for example. You can also take in a performance at the Nevada Opera or the Reno Pops Orchestra.
Sports fans will appreciate the opportunity to take in a minor league baseball game, with Reno as the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Triple-A affiliate. The city also hosts combat sporting events, like mixed martial arts and boxing. Those seeking to take in college sports can check out the games of the Nevada Wolf Pack, the team that represents the University of Nevada, Reno.
Looking to play yourself rather than watching others? Check out the whitewater park on the Truckee River in downtown Reno, where you can find whitewater events throughout the year. The park includes a course with Class 2 and 3 rapids that is able to be accessed year-round. The city and its surrounding area also have opportunities for hiking, biking, skiing, snowboarding and water sports like windsurfing and boating. There are plenty of options for camping in the city or in its surrounding areas, where you can easily access the many things Reno has to offer.