Oregon is a state that comes in two parts: lush rainforest and plenty of soggy weather along the coast and dry desert-like conditions to the east. If you ride the ocean road down towards California, you’ll go through trendy cities like Portland. Head inland and soon you’ll be in cowboy country.
Because of the number of cyclists that come through the state every year, there are plenty of resources for bike tourists like maps and brochures available for free at visitor centres. There’s even a waterproof one handed out for the West Coast!
Here’s the quick ‘cheat sheet’ guide to cycling in Oregon:
Where to ride: Undoubtedly the most popular route follows the Pacific Ocean down to California. Come in the summer, and you’ll be constantly passing cyclists going the same way. An excellent account of this ride can be found in journals and practical notes by Sonia & Ali.
Going far to the east brings you into an arid part of Oregon, where men are men and most people don’t ride bikes! Traffic is light and distances are long between towns. The scenery is dry yet beautiful, with salt lakes, rugged ridges and even a few sand dunes to explore.
Don’t Miss: If you’re into isolation, check out Lake Abert and the Abert Rim, one of the highest fault scarps in the United States. Otherwise, Portland is a mecca of hippie culture and micro-breweries as well as some of the best cycling infrastructure the U.S. has to offer. Bend is also renowned for its happening atmosphere. If you want to take in a rodeo, Pendleton has one that’s world famous.
Food: Oregon is generally ‘crunchy’ – meaning there’s no shortage of granola and food co-ops to explore in much of the state but the further east you go the more sparse the selection gets and you’ll be limited to small general stores in the farming communities. There isn’t the amount of food being sold by the road that you get in California so keep your eyes out for farmers markets on the weekends.
Accommodation: While hiker-biker sites abound along the west coast, they’re not so common in the east. On the other hand, there are plenty of smaller Forest Service and locally run sites that are affordable and pleasant. Private campgrounds tend to be less appealing, either being totally decrepit or expensive parking lots aimed at large motorhomes. Most towns will have a selection of low to mid-range hotels. You should find something decent but don’t expect luxury options for the most part.
Web Resources: Make sure you check out the following…
- Ride Oregon (lots of practical information here, including getting there and routes)
- National Park Service (camping and facility information)
- Forest Camping (reviews of U.S. Forest Service run campsites)
- Oregon State Parks
- Bicycle Travel Resources (compiled by the Oregon government)
- More Bike Touring Resources (put together by Portland this time)
- Columbia River Gorge
- I-205 Bike Route
- Oregon Coast Bike Route
- Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway
Hard copies of many of these maps and a bike guide to Oregon is also available by emailing Jaime Patzer at Jaime.M.Patzer@odot.state.or.us
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