Eons of spewing volcanoes and cataclysmic floods created the Columbia River Gorge, where Oregon’s grandest river rolls through towering cliffs of basalt. Even Congress agreed this place was special. Twenty-five years ago, it named the Columbia River Gorge the country’s first National Scenic Area, protecting the Columbia’s most dramatic stretch, the eighty-five miles between the Sandy and Deschutes rivers.
Bracketed by views of Mt. Bachelor and the Abert Rim, the Outback Scenic Byway is a sinuous ribbon of asphalt that carries travelers on an adventure of sights, sounds and smells. Traveling the Outback Scenic Byway, or Highway 31, isn’t so much a drive as it is a geological experience. This stretch of Oregon is best experienced at low speeds.
The plan for Jesse Lange was already in the soil of tiny Dundee when he moved there as a 9-year-old. It wasn’t preordained determinism. Oregon’s wine industry back then couldn’t yet be called much of an industry. The soil was new to the noses in the wine world, and most clear thinkers were clearly skeptical of its potential. Oregon wine was what Californian wine-growers considered to be the hooch of a few hippies who had lost the points on their compass, errant souls swept up in a northerly trade wind.
Kevin Zielinski’s eyes light up as he names the apple varieties he tends at his Willamette Valley orchard, just outside of Salem. Champagne Rienette. Douce Moën. Muscadet de Lense. St. Martine. The sinuous vowels and soft consonants even sound delicious. Eventually, they become fluid when Zielinski transforms these French heirloom apples into a traditional sparkling hard cider that leaves many searching for words.
Oregon’s Highway 101 where the Lewis and Clark expedition ended—at the confluence of the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean, where Fort Clatsop sidles up to Warrenton. Southbound travelers discover rivers, resorts, refuges, and more state parks and waysides per mile than any other stretch of Oregon road (thirteen state parks in Clatsop County alone). Hamlets spring from grassy dunes, artist colonies colonize and roadside eateries beckon travelers to Oregon’s seafood bounty. From Warrenton to the Cape Meares Lighthouse, this northern segment of Highway 101 puts travelers at the junction of sea and sand.