First stop in our trip to the Pacific North West brought us to Eugene, OR. We’d been so busy before we left that we hadn’t done much planning on what to do, but once we got orientated it seemed pretty obvious. Highway 126 runs from the coast through Eugene and up into the Cascades.
The first day we drove to Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint. Plenty of visitors, but not as crowded as you would see in the Bay Area. I think the photos on the website must be old, as trees now obscure views of the lighthouse from the land. Nice little hike to the lighthouse and along the beach.
Highway 126 heading west had lots to interest, very large lake (Fern Ridge Reservoir) near Eugene followed by hills (Coast Range Mountains) and forests and finally accompanying the Siuslaw River to the ocean.
Second day we drove along 126 and Route 242 to Dee Wright Observatory. Absolutely fascinating, especially the educational trail which made it seem like, although the observatory was probably 80 years older than the trail, the observatory had been placed in the perfect spot to observe every feature of a lava field that develops over a 1,000 years or so, either close up or in the near distance.
Highway 126 heading east for a lot of the time is accompanied by the McKenzie River. There are many covered bridges to visit off the main road. It seemed to me a long time before I had the sense we were high in the mountains, but once we turned on to 242 the markers for each 1,000 feet came thick and fast. The wildest thing was the clouds of butterflies we would have to drive through every time the sun managed to reach the road through the trees. Inevitably there are lots of waterfalls in the area, though the trail for one we stopped at (Proxy Falls) took you a long loop through lava country before you reached the falls (not so great for Jill).