On the Road in Oregon & Idaho

Explore destinations, attractions, and events on the road in Oregon and Idaho.

On the Road – May, 2022

Track Town

Person Being an Athlete Doing Athletic ThingsMake a visit this summer to Eugene, Oregon (also known as “TrackTown USA”) to experience the magic of this international destination for runners and fans of the sport. The newly reimagined Hayward Field at the University of Oregon will host elite athletes this spring and summer during a series of running events, including the Prefontaine Classic May 27 and 28, and the highly anticipated World Athletics Championships Oregon22 track and field competition July 15 to 24. In addition to experiencing the thrill of competitions held here, Hayward Hall is now a public attraction filled with history, including trophies and records, pieces of the former green wood stadium stands transformed into art and the opportunity to photograph yourself “on the field” in a selfie station. Outside the university, Eugene has also made community upgrades to prepare for its influx of new visitors, including commissioning twenty new murals and planting more than 2,021 new giant sequoia trees in 2021. See hayward.uoregon.edu.

Don’t Miss: Kinetic Sculpture Races

Dubbed the “Triathlon of the Art World,” there is truly nothing like Humboldt County, California’s Kinetic Grand Championship, held annually over Memorial Day Weekend across the North Coast. Racers spend months engineering people-powered vehicles that must survive a fifty-mile course that goes over land, sand, water and mud. The three-day race begins in the foggy college town of Arcata (home to the rebranded Cal Poly Humboldt campus) and ends in the historic community of Ferndale, with a quaint downtown with Victorian structures. Spectators gather at the starting line and again on day three to marvel at the creatively engineered vehicles, which feature designs with everything from fire cannons and unusual drive mechanisms to animated faces and fur. See kineticgrandchampionship.com.

Museum Milestone in Central Oregon

Person enjoying "Imagine a World" at the High Desert MuseumThe award-winning, 135-acre High Desert Museum in Bend celebrates forty years in May. Visit on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend for a celebration of four decades of sharing high desert nature, history and culture at the Smithsonian-affiliated museum, which boasts 100,000 square feet of exhibit space. Make a trip any time through late September to see the featured exhibition “Imagine a World,” examining ideal and utopian societies of the western United States. Learn about the ambitions, intentions and outcomes of utopian and intentional communities across the West and consider what kind of world we want to live in for the future. AAA Members save 10 percent on admission. See highdesertmuseum.org.

Idaho Camas Lily Festival

Head to Fairfield, Idaho for Camas Lily Days, a festival celebrating the region’s purple camas lilies, which bloom from late May to mid-June. Visit the Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh to see the flowers before heading into town June 4 and 5 for craft and food vendors, live music and a train on wheels offering rides for children. Cap off the evening with a performance by local Shoshone-Bannock tribal members and round out the weekend with a hearty Sunday breakfast. See visitsouthidaho.com.

Shoshone Falls After Dark

Idaho’s Shoshone Falls, known as the “Niagara of the West” becomes even more spectacular at nighttime. The falls were first lit up in May 2021 as part of “Shoshone Falls After Dark.” The dazzling display of lights is expected to return this spring. See visitsouthidaho.com.

Art Influx in Vernonia

Mural in VernoniaA burst of color and beauty has hit the streets of Vernonia in northwest Oregon, following the installation of eight new murals in the city of 2,000 people. Portland Street Art Alliance and local resident Rachael Organ worked with the Columbia Economic Team to secure a grant from Travel Oregon to help beautify downtown. Six artists based in the Pacific Northwest worked on the murals, which evoke images of Vernonia’s past and present. Some murals include depictions of the town’s logging history, the region’s flora and fauna, outdoor recreation and cinematic history. One particular mural depicting scenes from the 1961 film Ring of Fire, shot in Vernonia, was completed on the side of the old Joy movie theater. See pdxstreetart.org.

Boatnik in Grants Pass

It’s part carnival, part boating bonanza at the annual Boatnik celebration in Grants Pass, Oregon, happening over Memorial Day weekend. Watch a unique, on-the-water parade travel down the Rogue River through downtown Grants Pass, ending at Riverside Park. See firework displays over the river, participate in all the classic carnival activities and catch boating races from the riverbank. On Memorial Day itself, stick around for the Tom Rice Memorial Whitewater Hydroplane Race and a Memorial Day service that includes a jet flyover. See boatnik.com.

On the Road – March, 2022

Fresh vegetables along the high desert food trailHigh Desert Food Trail

The High Desert Food Trail takes guests on adventures through a land where farm-to-table meals are the standard. Marvel at stunning landscapes, feast on artisan bites, learn something new about Central Oregon agriculture and show some appreciation to the people who grow our food. From craft beverages to handmade goods and even luxury lodging options, the High Desert Food Trail offers unique and engaging experiences to all those who explore it. See hdffa.org/hdft.

Idaho Artistry in Wood, Boise

Given that the city was named after its wooded surroundings, it’s no surprise that Boise is home to the annual Idaho Artistry in Wood show. Returning for the 12th year this April 2 to 3, this event showcases some of the best carvers and woodworkers from around the Pacific Northwest. See idahoartistryinwood.org.

The Return of Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Oregon Shakespeare festival returnsOne of the largest festivals in the West has returned to the idyllic and lively college town of Ashland, Oregon. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival will commence on April 12 and is expected to attract more than 400,000 total attendees. With three theaters playing classic and imaginative retellings of the works of Shakespeare and others, guests are truly immersed in a world of art, history and culture. The mix of drama and comedy is sure to entertain the whole family. Explore the local shops, dine on luxurious offerings grown from the nearby agricultural bounty and consider setting off on one of the many hiking and biking trails that surround Ashland. See osfashland.org.

5 Spring Break Destinations

On the Road, the Enchanted Forest in Turner, ORFairytale Parks | Turner, OR

The Enchanted Forest brings stories to life in a wooded hillside. Take a walk through fairytales of old and enjoy roller coasters and entertainment with the whole family.

Science is Fun | Portland, OR

The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry showcases topics
like physics, energy, anatomy and more in fun and engaging ways for kids and adults.

Aviation History | McMinnville, OR

Home to the largest wooden plane ever built, the Spruce Goose, the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum preserves the history of aviation for future generations.

Hot Springs Oasis | Lava Hot Springs, ID

The Lava Hot Springs region is famous for its geothermal activity, which delivers water to pools reaching around 102 degrees, perfect for soaking the
day away.

Lions, Tigers and Bears | Idaho Falls, ID

The family-friendly Museum of Idaho educates and inspires about the history of the region through science, humanities and hands-on exhibits for the kids.

Portland Art exhibits

On the Road at the Portland Art MuseumPortland, Oregon is known as a city that celebrates culture and diversity through artwork such as murals and other media. At the Portland Art Museum, check out two art exhibits that explore race and ethnicity through the lenses of artists and creators. The exhibit “Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Mexican Modernism” (through June 5) explores the 20th century avant-garde cultural movement in Mexico by examining the work of these two conflicting artists (and their stormy marriage), along with work from other Mexican Modernists. The second exhibit, “APEX: Sharita Towne & A Black Art Ecology of Portland” (through July 3) examines the creation and reclamation of spaces for Black art in Portland. Towne, the artist responsible for the exhibit, said, “BAEP acknowledges the active, creative vitality of Black communities from the past, present, and into the future of Portland.” See portlandartmuseum.org.

A Wee Bit O’ Ireland in Eastern Oregon

On the Road in Heppner, Oregon to celebrate Irish cultureJoin the town of Heppner, Oregon, as it celebrates all things Irish! A Wee Bit O’ Ireland is an annual festival with events March 11 through 19 this year. Stop by for the great green parade that passes through downtown and witness an old tradition in sheep dog trials. Test your luck in an amateur boxing tournament or Irish bowling, and of course, enjoy tons of food and drink specials, and live entertainment. See heppnerchamber.com.


On the Road – January, 2022

Crane Hot Springs

On the Road | Starry sky over Burns, OR
Photo: Robert Eckhardt

Just thirty miles south of Burns in Southeast Oregon, Crane Hot Springs is close enough to Highway 20 to serve as a stopover for weary east-west travelers, but it feels a world away from the rush of a road trip.

The mineral-rich soaking pools have been an oasis in this desert region of Oregon for decades and are sought-after for their healing properties. There’s a large soaking pool to dip into as well as private soaking pools. Rest for a night in one of the rustic cabins or teepees, or bring your trailer and camp. Stay up late and stargaze under the expansive sky, or wake up early and watch the sunrise as you soak and listen to the coyotes howl. See cranehotsprings.com.

Oregon  Coast

Spearheaded by Governor Tom McCall, Oregon’s Beach Bill was enacted in 1967 to ensure that the state’s peerless coastline is open and accessible to all. The public has free and uninterrupted access to Oregon’s entire 363 miles of surf, tidepools, whale watching, kite-flying and sandcastle-building.

On the Road near Cannon Beach, OR

An Artsy Treasure Hunt

On the road for local glass float art in Lincoln City, Oregon
Photo: Nathan Holstedt

In Lincoln City, beach exploration comes with a fun challenge. Throughout the year, volunteer “Float Fairies” place hand-blown glass floats on the seven-mile stretch of beachfront with the intent that they be found by passersby. The Finders Keepers program is a nostalgic nod to the erstwhile pastime of searching for Japanese net floats, blown glass balls occasionally transported to the Oregon coast by tides. Today, regional artists fashion beautiful new glass floats in a rainbow of colors for the Float Fairies to distribute. Find a float; take it home. The city-sponsored program gives visitors a solid reason to hit the beach any day of the year, rain or shine. See oregoncoast.org/glass-floats.

North Coast Food Trail

Follow the breadcrumbs on this culinary tour of bakeries, seafood purveyors, farmers markets and restaurants. From the northern point at Astoria south to Neskowin, this new route allows travelers to explore the northern Oregon coast with their senses. Taste as much as you can while you’re on the road, and then purchase locally made products to take home for later, from beer to cheese to smoked salmon. See northcoastfoodtrail.com.

Whale Watching: Five places to spot whales on the Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast whale watchingBandon – Face Rock Scenic Viewpoint

As well as whales, this spot is a stopping point for more than 300 species of birds, including tufted puffins in the summer.

Yachats – Cape Perpetua Interpretive Center

Shelter from the weather and take in a stormy day at this site, which has a phenomenal panoramic view.

Depoe Bay – Whale Watching Center

This location on the seawall is perfect for watching migrating whales as they blow, dive, spyhop and breach.

Cannon Beach – Ecola State Park

One of the prettiest and largest headlands on the coast, Ecola is an excellent vantage point for whale-watching.

Pacific City – Cape Kiwanda State Park

Keep your eye out for surfers and dory fishing boats as well as whales in the waves off of this popular beach.

Events

On the Road | Pacific Flyway during the Winter Wings Festival in Klamath Falls
Photo: Discover Klamath

Winter Wings

Each February, the Winter Wings Festival in Klamath Falls offers field trips, walking tours, lectures and more to celebrate the largest wintering population of bald eagles in the lower 48 states as well as the abundance of all the birds that make the Klamath Basin home. The Pacific Flyway is a major north-south route of travel for migratory birds in the Americas, extending from Alaska to Patagonia. Every spring and fall, migratory birds travel this route—about 80 percent of the Pacific Flyway migrants make the Klamath Basin a stopover, numbering at times to more than a million birds present in the area. Join bird enthusiasts this winter to take in the glory of the flyway sky. See winterwingsfest.org.

McCall Winter Carnival

On the Road | McCall Winter Carnival ice sculpture
Photo: @TRAVELINGSPUD

In 1924, a train from Boise delivered 250 visitors to McCall, Idaho for the first Payette Lake Winter Games. Forty years later, inspired by those winter lovers of long ago, residents launched the McCall Winter Carnival as a celebration of the adventures and beauty of the colder season. The iconic event brings more than 60,000 people to the region in late January for snow sculptures, dog sled racing, pancake breakfasts, live music, fireworks and more. See visitmccall.org.

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