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Bend to Portland via Mt. Hood and Columbia Gorge

New York City
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Bend to Portland via Mt. Hood and Columbia Gorge

As part of our loop through Oregon, we will be traveling from Crater Lake to Bend to Mt. Hood and the Columbia River Gorge loop, ending up in Portland. I have 2 questions:

1) What is the most scenic way to get from Bend to the Mt. Hood area without too much backtracking? I see in my Oregon map of scenic byways that McKenzie Pass, Cascade Lakes, and the West Cascades Scenic Byway run from Bend in that general area, but they seem somewhat out of the way. Is there a way to incorporate some of those roads without losing too much time? Is it worth it?

2) Once we get to Mt. Hood, it looks like we would then take 35 to the River Gorge area, and follow it west back to Portland, but I see that we would be missing out on the stretch of 26 from Mt. Hood to Troutdale. Will we be missing out on much scenery in this area, and if so, is there an efficient way to incorporate it?

Thanks!

Oregon
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1. Re: Bend to Portland via Mt. Hood and Columbia Gorge

I don't know if it is the most scenic, but probably the easiest, quickest route is to take Highway 26 from Bend to Mt. Hood, and then Highway 35 from there. Highway 26 travels mostly through the high desert, but I always enjoy the view of Smith Rock on the way (and I kinda think the desert is pretty anyway). Some people think the sagebrush gets monotenous.

The backside of Mt. Hood along 35 has some great views of the mountain. If you take the turnoff for the Pioneer Woman's Grave, and continue following that road, there is a great view from Buzzard Point, and then you originally rejoin Hwy 35. Then you come into the Hood River Valley and will have view of both Hood and Mt. Adams, and the orchards. It's quite beautiful.

Others might be able to offer more advice as far as your first question goes.

Troutdale, Oregon
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for Hood River, Troutdale, Cascade Locks, The Dalles, Portland, Oregon
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2. Re: Bend to Portland via Mt. Hood and Columbia Gorge

Hello there.

Highway 26 from where you turn off at Highway 35 is mountain for awhile then turns to the city of Sandy, then goes into Gresham. You won't be missing too much at all.

Now if you were doing a circle from the Gorge to Mt. Hood for instance and then back to Portland you would take this (highway 26) stretch of road.

Good travels,

min

Portland, Oregon
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3. Re: Bend to Portland via Mt. Hood and Columbia Gorge

You don't say how much time you've allowed for this drive.

Regardless, rather than, McKenzie Pass, Cascade Lakes, and the West Cascades Scenic Byway, I think your kids (and probably you) would more enjoy McKenzie Pass (hwy 242 from Sisters) only as far as Dee Wright Observatory, then double back to Sisters and take hwy 20/126 west to the Camp Sherman Road. The Camp Sherman General Store is a fun stop in itself, as are the head of the Metolius River, and the Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery. From there, back into Sisters and onto hwy 126 which junctions with hwy 97 in Redmond, south of Smith Rocks.

If you're driving straight through, mahjerle's suggested route (correction: Hwy 97 from Bend) would take about 5 hours from Crater Lake to Hood River, and another hour from there into Portland.

Eugene, Oregon
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4. Re: Bend to Portland via Mt. Hood and Columbia Gorge

I didn't see WHEN you were making this trip. The Old McKenzie Hwy #242 is a seasonal road and isn't open yet. Haven't seen any predictions of when it will finally be passable.

New York City
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5. Re: Bend to Portland via Mt. Hood and Columbia Gorge

Sorry, will be the 3rd week in August, so if the pass isn't open by then, we'll have bigger problems to worry about!

I'm not sure how long we'll have for the drive. We'll certainly be stopping for an overnight in Bend and to check out the lava tubes, Peter Smith SP, possibly High Desert Museum. We obviously want to get to Mt. Hood and the river gorge and don't want to spend all day in the car getting there, but if we can see some beautiful scenery by driving a little out of the way, it would certainly be worth it for us. The problem is that just because a map says a certain road is scenic doesn't always mean it's worth the detour, which is why I'm turning to the locals.

Eugene, Oregon
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6. Re: Bend to Portland via Mt. Hood and Columbia Gorge

#242 will be open by then, even this year!

I would suggest going all the way through #242, instead of backtracking. I'm not sure it would take that much additinal time and it will give you the opportunity of returning to your route via #126 along the McKenzie River and seeing Sahalie Falls and Clear Lake.

Oregon Coast
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for Crescent City, Oregon Coast, Oregon, Redwood National Park
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7. Re: Bend to Portland via Mt. Hood and Columbia Gorge

>> Peter Smith SP <<

Smith Rock? tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g52033-d28…

Oregon
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8. Re: Bend to Portland via Mt. Hood and Columbia Gorge

When near Bend make sure you go into the Lava River Ice Cave and go to the top of Lava Butte (they are both south of Bend a few miles on Hwy 97 - near the Museum). Also from Bend to Mt. Hood and on to Portland. Take Hwy 26 go to Timberline Lodge (about 2 miles past the turnoff to Hood River), Then back track to Hwy 35 and then to the Gorge. It's only a few miles out of the way but you don't want to miss the Lodge.

Bend, Oregon
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9. Re: Bend to Portland via Mt. Hood and Columbia Gorge

It's hard to see everything isn't it? As much as I love the old McKenzie highway and Dee Wright observatory, I would be inclined to head straight up 97 to 26 for the trip to Mt. Hood (and yes don't miss Timberline Lodge) and then up 35 to Hood River (a great town in its own right) and the Columbia River Gorge into Portland. That in itself is a full day. Besides, I find the drive to Mt. Hood via 26 quite scenic with wide open spaces, great views of Mt. Jefferson and the dramatic Deschutes River canyon. And the route takes you through the Warm Springs Indian reservation where there is a small but excellent museum. The drive alone takes about 4 hours (longer if you take the old, scenic Columbia Gorge hwy rather than I84) so that would give you time for stops and still get into Portland at a decent hour.

10. Re: Bend to Portland via Mt. Hood and Columbia Gorge

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