Monday, September 22, 2008

Oregon's Top Ten Adventures

Hello blog readers. I'm sure that we, Team Kettle has already made it painfully obvious that we love adventure. And while we still have considerably more journeying to do, we figured it was about time to create a post of our top ten adventures in the beautiful state of Oregon. We are not trying to be partial to the beaver state, it just happens to be the one in which we reside and play the most.
So, although these are not all adventures which we have participated in, YET, we believe that they are all worthy of being on our top ten.
Listed in no particular order, here they are:

#1 Kiteboarding the Columbia River Gorge in Hood River
If you are one of those individuals that enjoys being a trendsetter, get to your local water sport dealer and buy yourself a brand new kiteboard. Kiteboarding is a young sport, but is quickly growing in popularity. For those of you unfamiliar with the sport, the kiteboarder straps a board to their feet, not unlike a wakeboard. The kiteboarder also holds a large kite, which they control, to propel themselves across the water.
According to, "the Hood River Sandbar is the only sandy kiteboarding launch in the Gorge, it is also one of the most consistently windy spots in the entire country." And who can resist an excuse to visit Hood River anyways. With their local breweries, Big Horse Brewing and Full Sail Brewing, and their conveniently close location to such beautiful orchards, Hood River is the ideal place to strap on a kiteboard, eat a bag of Sea Salt and Vinegar Kettle Chips, and wash them down with a cold pint of local brew.
Kiteboarding instruction and gear is available from Big Winds.

#2 Rafting the Illinois River
With two members of our team being trained rafting guides, there was little question as to the best river to raft in Oregon. The Illinois is incredibly scenic and has fantastic rapids. And, according to our very own Dan, rafting the Illinois is "the most remote overnight rafting trip in the lower 48. For 33 miles, the river carves a steep canyon through the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area in southwestern Oregon before meeting with the Rogue. The 'river trail' is high up on the north rim and only comes down to water level once. The only way to see this canyon is from a boat. There are no roads, no houses, no damn jet boats, no hikers and, because the flow window is so narrow, usually no other boaters."
Sounds like an exciting and intimate rafting trip!
Of course, while rafting with a local guide company, like Momentum River Expeditions, we recommend warming up around your campfire with a bag of Death Valley Chipotle. Spicy!

#3 Cycling the Vineyards of Willamette Valley - The Vine Ride
Any avid cyclist in the Portland area can attest to the beauty of seeing beautiful, rolling hills, blanketed in row upon row of fertile grape vines around every winding corner.
You can go for an intense century ride that includes a hilly loop around Henry Hagg Lake. Or opt for a more leisurely ride through some of Willamette Valley's small communities, like Dundee, Carlton, and Yamhill, being sure to stop at some of the wine studios for tastes of their world-class wine.  Wether you are a dedicated cyclist, or just looking for a relaxed and scenic cruise, the Willamette Valley has something to offer everybody.
You can participate in the Vine Ride that happens each August, or plan a route of your own (Willamette Valley Wineries Association is helpful). Either way, if you pack a bag of Tuscan Three Cheese chips to munch on, you will surely feel as though you are gliding through the hills of Burgundy, France.

#4 Climbing Smith Rock
Just north of Redmond in Central Oregon is world-class climbing at Smith Rock. 
With more than 1500 routes, Smith Rock State Park offers beginning through advanced climbing routes. Even if you don't climb, the park is a beautiful place and worth a stop. 
There are also too many other attractions near the park to even mention, but if you are fortunate enough to also see a concert at Bend's Les Schwab Amphitheater while on your climbing trip, then you are really in for a treat. 
If you do climb Smith Rock, we highly recommend that you bring along a bag of Cheddar Beer chips. Savor the view, savor the flavor!

#5 Fly Fishing the Deschutes River
About 2 hours west and slightly south of Portland is the small town of Maupin. The town is a bueaty, and people come from all over to fly fish near the portion of the Deschutes river that runs through the town.  The trout and steelhead fishing is world-class. 
The river also has something to offer rafters: class I-IV rapids!
The town is also very quiet and relaxing; so a trip to the Deschutes, wether for fly fishing, rafting, or nibbling a bag of Sour Cream Onion & Chive potato chips, is always worth the drive.
If you are looking for a great guide, we recommend Charles "Chuck" Gehr or any of the other helpful folks at Deschutes Angler.

#6 Mountaineering Mount Hood
If you are looking for some real, hardcore adventure, consider summiting Mount Hood. 
At 11,249 feet tall, Mount Hood is the tallest mountain in Oregon and is home to twelve glaciers. About 10,000 people attempt the climb each year.
The best time to climb Hood is in April, May and June. It is necessary to be in great physical condition to do the climb. For those who are not experienced mountaineers, it is crucial to hire a guiding service. They can provide you with necessary equipment and skills, and even a ride halfway up the mountain. The Mazamas Organization has a lot of great information.
Wether you pack it to the top, or enjoy it afterwards, a bag of Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper chips is absolutely necessary to reward yourself.

#7 Surfing at Otter Rock
Most folks don't typically think of the Oregon Coast when they think of hanging ten. But as long as you are outfitted with a proper wetsuit and booties (and maybe even gloves and a hood), the Oregon Coast is a great place to catch a few waves. Typically, even the hotspots are not too crowded, and the other surfers tend to be far friendlier than those found in other surfing Meccas around the world. 
Otter Rock State Park is located south of Lincoln City, and north of Newport. It is about 2 hours from Portland, and well worth the drive. 
If you are just getting started surfing (or even if you've been doing it for years), the dudes and dudettes at the Oregon Surf Shop have always been incredibly friendly and knowledgeable. They can help you with gear rentals or purchases, and they provide lessons. Bring them a bag of Spicy Thai chips, and they might be your friend for ever (just don't forget to bring a bag for yourself as well). They are also a great place to stop and get a picture of yourself riding the giant fiberglass wave that sits next to the store. 

#8 Snowboarding/Skiing Willamette Pass
You might have expected to see snowboarding or skiing on the list of Top Oregon Adventures, given that all members of Team Kettle are ski bums. But you may not have expected us to choose one of Oregon's smaller mountains for the list. 
We chose Willamette Pass because, while it is a smaller mountain, they do have a six-person chair lift, along with four tripples, a tube lift, and a magic carpet. They have a small, cozy lodge and the very friendly staff is certainly worth mentioning. Day passes are also very inexpensive at $40 for an adult day pass (compare to Meadows on Mt. Hood at $54-$69!). 
Willamette Pass is a great choice for families, college students, or anybody looking to make some turns and avoid the big mountain crowds and mentality. It is 70 miles east of Eugene on Highway 58, almost halfway to Bend. Bring two bags of New York Cheddar with Herbs, one for the ride up, and one for the ride down.

#9 Hiking at Crater Lake
Going for a hike at Crater Lake National Park is for EVERYONE! The trails around this gem range from very easy to difficult. 
You could begin with hikes Annie's Creek Trail or Castle Crest Wildflower Garden (1.5 hours and 45 minutes, respectively); each offer gorgeous views of wildflowers and butterflies in the late spring and early summer. 
Next, step it up a notch with a necessary hike: Garfield Peak. The hike begins at the historic and majestic Crater Lake Lodge, and offers some of the best views of the deepest lake in the U.S. 
If you are feeling ambitious then hiking Mount Scott is recommended. The summit, also the highest point at Crater Lake National Park, offers views of the lake, the east side of the park, and  the Klamath Basin. There is also a fire lookout at the summit. 
Crater Lake is AMAZING. And we could go on and on about it, but you really should just see it for yourself. Pack up the hiking shoes, a day's supply of Buffalo Bleu chips, and your friends or family, and spend at least a whole day taking in the views of this incredible park.

#10 Crane Hot Springs in Burns
Most people think of the lush forests, mountain peaks, and abundant streams and rivers when they think of Oregon. But often overlooked and forgotten is Eastern Oregon's high deserts, that make up a very large portion of the state. 
Hot Springs are very abundant in Eastern Oregon. And since this part of the state IS so often overlooked, it is also a great place for a quiet, often secluded, and inexpensive trip. One of the best places to begin that trip is Burns, Oregon. 
After hiking Steens Mountain above the Alvord Desert, relax in the natural and soothing hot springs at Crane Hot Springs. Swim in the natural outdoor spring reservoir and take in the sensational desert scenery. Or opt for the private and enclosed soaking tubs to enjoy the mineral-rich waters. 
Cabins and camping are available for this retreat, but BYOCBPC (Bring Your Own Classic Barbeque Potato Chips), because unfortunately, they do not keep them on hand. 

There are so many more Oregon Adventures, like mountain biking Mount Ashaland, dog sledding in Bend or horseback riding on the coast; obviously too many to mention. We recommend trying a few, on the list or others, and letting us know which ones you think are the best. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There are several sandy beaches in the Gorge, Hood River being the most popular. Kiteboarding is an extremely dangerous sport and shouldn't be attempted without proper gear training and lessons, though. The Gorge is not really the best place for beginners, so please treat the power of the kite with some respect. We just lost a good friend who was an experienced rider to a deadly updraft.