Day 1 - Eugene to Coos Bay, 120 miles:
The road west from Eugene (Hwy 126) follows river valleys most of the way, winding through steep, wooded hills to the coastal town of Florence, at the north end of Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area
. This varied preserve contains 40 miles of the Pacific shoreline, including beaches, forests, lagoons, creeks and dunes, with a good selection of trails. The twin towns of Coos Bay and North Bend mark the south end of the dunes, beyond which the coastaline becomes rockier and more dramatic.
Day 2 - Coos Bay to Bandon, 45 miles:
Three of the most popular locations along the southern Oregon coast are found close together just southwest of North Bend: Sunset Bay
, Shore Acres
and Cape Arago
feature beautiful sandy coves, sheer cliffs and a great variety of eroded sandstone fomations, in contrast to most of the coast which is lined by metamorphic rocks. More photogenic scenery, with larger rocks and more extensive sands, is reached a little way south at Coquille Point and Face Rock Beach
, near Bandon.
Day 3 - Bandon to Brookings, 85 miles:
Continuing south, the next 85 miles of the coast has many scenic areas, mostly within (free) state parks, including Floras Lake and Blacklock Point
, Port Orford Heads
, Cape Sebastian
, Crook Point and Mack Reef
, Samuel H Boardman State Scenic Corridor
(which contains around 20 separate viewpoints and trailheads) and Harris Beach/Chetco Point
. Some warrant just a brief stop, others have more to offer.
Optional extra day(s): more time along the coast
Day 4 - Brookings to Grants Pass, 135 miles:
The journey inland from Brookings first involves heading further south into California, passing right through Jeddediah Smith Redwoods State Park
, which contains some of the densest and most scenic redwood groves in the state. The highway continues alongside the Smith River, back across the stateline and past the turn-off for Oregon Caves National Monument. Reached by a very narrow, winding road, this NPS preserve has several beautiful caverns, viewable on guided tours. The day is completed by a short drive through the Siskiyou Mountains to Grants Pass.
Day 5 - Grants Pass to Crater Lake, 120 miles:
Most of the 90 mile journey from Grants Pass to Crater Lake National Park
is through wooded, hilly land, past one large reservoir (Lost Creek Lake). Crater Lake is perhaps Oregon's most famous natural landmark, viewable from all angles by the 32 mile Rim Drive
. Away from the crater, one other interesting area is the Pinnacles
, a collection of sharply pointed tufa spires.
Day 6 - Crater Lake to La Pine, 120 miles:
Good short trails in Crater Lake National Park include Watchman
, this latter the only route to the water's edge. From the north exit of the park, the highway soon descends into the Deschutes River Valley, from where a side road reaches the main section of Newberry National Volcanic Monument
), featuring two lakes, a volcanic summit and an unusual lava flow formed of glassy black obsidian. The night is spent at the nearby town of La Pine.
Day 7 - La Pine to Eugene, 150 miles:
US 97 north of La Pine soon reaches the northern section of Newberry National Volcanic Monument, where the two main locations are Lava Butte
(lava flows and a cinder cone) and Lava River Cave
(the longest lava tube in Oregon). The return journey to Eugene is through bend than across the Cascade Range close to the glaciated peaks of the Three Sisters, crossing the crest at McKenzie Pass, where the forested landscapes are briefly replaced by a vast expanse of jagged lava.