I’ve decided to write this article as a mission of mercy for all those poor, poor Oregonians suffering in Portland, running themselves ragged in the rat race of microbreweries and coffee shops. I have found a respite from your hellish existence! …Not convinced of my pity? You have a keen instinct. I happen to think Portland, OR is tied with Austin, TX for the title of “hippest city in the country.” It’s definitely the better of the two big Portlands in America, and the one in Maine is no slouch!
As it turns out, just a little bit southeast of your incredible city, there’s a gorgeous road that cuts through the Willamette National Forest: the West Cascades Scenic Byway.
This 200ish-mile drive goes from a little bit southeast of Portland and ends a little bit southeast of Eugene. The West Cascades is all about the scenery! You start driving alongside the Clackamas River and eventually go through the Mt. Hood forest. You’ll have incredible views of the river, the mountains, and bright, green forests. This road is a great example of the lush, green, other-worldly beauty of backwoods Oregon.
This is a road you want to take slowly. A lot of roads are best appreciated while moving, but this isn’t among them. There’s lots of places to enjoy nature. There’s places for hiking, boating, fishing, picnicking, and sightseeing. The road covers all kinds of different scenery, including mountains, glaciers, lava fields, forests, lakes, and rivers.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you probably know I’m a roadgeek. I get hyped about the numbers, the mileage, and the distance. I like putting pavement behind me for its own sake. I like the meditative experience of being behind the wheel for a long, long time. Yet I have to say that the West Cascades Byway is a road I want to drive for the scenery. This is a road I want to stop every five miles on to breathe in the fresh air and take in the sights.