Homes in Depoe Bay, Oregon line the cliffs of the Oregon Coast just north of Whale Cove. The view is looking north from the picnic area at the Rocky Creek State Wayside. GPS coordinates: N 44, 47.14; W 124, 4.42.
Summer! What fun we had. Passengers touring Hell’s Canyon take time out for a swim in the Snake River after a jet boat trip up the river to see Hells Canyon Dam and running the exciting Wild Sheep Rapids and Granite Creek Rapids. Want to know more? Check out our video of a Jet Boat Tour of the Snake River from which this scene is taken.
Florence, Oregon: 12:50 PM
Old Town lies immediately east of Highway 101 and the historic Siuslaw River Bridge in an area along the Siuslaw River. Map
The popular area hosts numerous and various shops including art galleries, restaurants, and many stores offering antiques, clothing, gifts, candy, ice cream and other specialty foods.
At the east end of Bay Street is the Port of Siuslaw Marina serving recreational and commercial boaters and fishermen. The marina features a commercial wharf and docks, waterfront boardwalk and a RV campground.
Florence, Oregon: 10:30 AM
Old Town, a section of several square blocks down by the Siuslaw River in Florence, Oregon is a popular attraction whether the draw is for sightseeing, shopping, dining or all three. Of particular interest to me on this morning was coffee. A kind lady at the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center mentioned I might find what I was looking for down in this area of town.
Sure enough, I found the perfect place at the Siuslaw River Coffee Roasters and Coffee House at the west end of Bay Street down near (almost below) the historic bridge built in 1936 that enables travelers cruising US Highway 101 to cross the Siuslaw River.
Eclectic, and perhaps funky, in both furnishings and layout, the coffee house felt warm, comfortable and like the place where one might want to hang out with friends and family or perhaps even alone with a book or laptop on a cold rainy day
The coffee house isn’t particularly large but patrons can chose from several seating areas including a leather couch in front of a stove, a small alcove where several can gather to pass the time of day or enjoy their coffee in privacy, a large table in front of the french doors leading to a deck overlooking the river, the deck itself which offers an array of several wrought-iron tables and good views of the river.
On this particular morning, a small group of local residents were occupying what one patron called the “Alpha” table and visiting about who knows what. They apparently are participants in a regular gathering to chat about the weather, news of the day or just about anything that attracts their attention at any given moment.
Standing in line to order my particular preference I happened to strike up a conversation with Rachel Pearson, a woman active in the local community who does a lot of volunteer work for schools and also occasionally contributes to the local newspaper. Rachel and I chatted for some time sitting out on the deck watching the river roll by. She told me about the move she and her husband, a physician, made from Wisconsin to Florence some years ago and how they have found a wonderful community here and particularly so for raising children. Rachel also shared with me a bit of the background and history of the coffee house.
Owned by John and Kathy Stone, their coffee is roasted on the spot with a Diedrich 30-pound roaster that sits in a small room behind the service counter. The coffee is always fresly roasted and at a volume sufficient to supply the daily needs of their customers plus have a few pounds available for those may want to buy their beans by the pound.
SR 129 Dropping Down To the Grande Ronde River: 4:39 PM
South of the small community of Anatone and the wheat fields, SR 129 passes the 792-acre Fields Spring State Park on the east side of the highway. This is a camping park providing views of three states and the Grande Ronde River from Puffer Butte.
Beyond the park, the highway soon begins a steep descent down a narrow canyon loosely following the course of Rattlesnake Creek to the Grande Ronde River as seen in the photo below.
Numerous viewpoint pullouts along the way provide opportunities to stop for photos and take in the splendid views.
Across the river, the highway begins a twisting upward climb through the distant canyon seen in the above photo and becomes Oregon SR 3, the Enterprise-Lewiston Highway, at the Oregon border.
Once out of the canyon, the highway seemingly flattens and runs south almost straight as an arrow to Enterprise, Oregon and the beautiful Wallowa Valley. Along the way it flows through a forest corridor and runs by a pullout that is the Joseph Canyon Viewpoint. The elevation along here, surprisingly, is more than 4,000 feet with a high point of 4,693 feet as announced by a summit sign in the proximity of the intersection of Day Ridge Road.
Having driven a distance of slightly less than 90 miles from Lewiston, we enter the Wallowa Valley with a backdrop of the magnificent Wallowa Mountains in the distance.
Next Stop: Enterprise, Oregon
Driving a loop tour in, through, and skirting the Hell’s Canyon National Recreation Area is an exercise in ups and downs accompanied by incredibly beautiful scenery offering loads of photo ops plus museum visits, history, culture, agriculture, forests, lakes, rivers, mountains and state and national scenic byways.
The tour can start and end from any of the following cities and towns: Clarkston, Colfax, Pullman or Spokane, Washington; Enterprise or Joseph, Oregon; Cambridge, Council, Grangeville, Lewiston or McCall, Idaho.
My trip log from a recent three-day tour of the loop showed a total of 730 miles driven with 15-1/2 hours behind the wheel at an average drive-time speed of 44.9 miles per hour. The entire route was over well-maintained two-lane, rural highways free of any construction delays.
The trip started and ended in Spokane, Washington with only one section backtracked. That section is the 106 miles between Spokane and Lewiston.
You can avoid the backtrack by including Moscow and Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho within the tour. The addition of these two cities adds only about 40 miles and increases the drive time only by about 50 minutes. Added attractions include the University of Idaho at Moscow, and scenic Lake Coeur d’ Alene.
The day was getting late, rain was falling ever more steadily and I still had more than five hours of driving ahead of me when I passed the sign pointing to the turnoff for White River Falls State Park. Tired, and really wanting to head on home, I could not resist the possibility of missing a scenic surprise. So, I turned the Jeep around and went back to the turnoff. I’m so glad I made the stop.
The idyllic spot and falls is located just 39 miles south of The Dalles, Oregon off State Route 216. The park offers hiking, picnicking and fishing, or, just a great place to relax. There is no entrance nor day use fee, and the park opens in the spring and closes in the fall.
A short walk from the parking area takes you to an overlook for views of the falls as the White River plunges some 90 feet over a basalt shelf and flows on down the canyon to join the Lower Deschutes River just a few miles away.
This photo shows the two major ribbons of the falls. A few slightly smaller, but just as beautiful, ribbons are off to the right and mostly hidden by trees. GPS coordinates: N 45, 14.5748; W 121, 5.8093.
Having followed the Deschutes River Road and crossed the bridge at the intersection of State Route 216, I found a wonderfully scenic spot with a number of fisherman angleing for Steelhead and the various species of trout that populate the river. The lower 100 miles of the Deschutes River are classified as both a state Scenic Waterway and a federal Wild and Scenic River. GPS coordinates: N 45, 15.6084; W 121, 2.2817.
You have a couple of choices when heading north toward The Dalles from Maupin. You can either take US Highway 197, or, you can take the Deschutes River Road and follow it north along the river for about seven miles to where it intersects with State Route 216, which you then can follow west to rejoin US 197 at Tygh Valley.
I chose the river road as you might have guessed from the above photo. The day was overcast with light showers, which didn’t seem to deter fishermen nor their pets. A number of river access points dot the road and many of them have ample parking and picnic tables. The route also offers plenty of beautiful scenry and photo ops. If curious about where this shot was taken, here are the coordinates: N 45, 13.1049; W 121, 4.4445.
I wasn’t kidding about the hotel backing up to US Forest Service Lands. This shot is taken on the Forest Service side of the fence.
Each morning a herd of a dozen or more deer lingered along the fence. And on the other side of the property is quite a large corral for several llamas that belong to the property owner.
Paul Haggerty, general manager of the property, also told me this is what’s called a birding hotel. There are a number of bird feeders spread around and birding guest have reported seeing more birds here than they’ve found on birding junkets.