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Old 04-11-2015, 10:58 AM
 
983 posts, read 821,029 times
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Got a question for you Oregonians.

Excluding I-84, what is the best route east-west across the state?

From the coast to I-5.

From I-5 across the Cascades to the eastern part of the state.

By "best route" I mean lowest elevation, gentlest passes (elevation wise.)

Also, being further south, when does the Cascade mountain passes usually melt out? In Washington, North Cascade highway is usually open by Memorial Day.

Thanks!
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Old 04-11-2015, 11:10 AM
 
Location: The beautiful Rogue Valley, Oregon
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It depends on where you are starting and where you are going. There are, pretty much, 5 major east-west routes across the Cascades.

I-84 (the only one that is minimum 4 lanes the entire way)
Hwy 26
Hwy 20
Hwy 58
Hwy 140

None of the main highways are closed in winter (except, perhaps, in a huge storm), they are plowed and kept open. The closest thing we have to North Cascades Highway is Cascades Lake Highway, which closes in the winter. It is the "scenic" drive between Bend and Hwy 58. Likewise Crater Lake Rim Drive at Crater Lake National Park is closed in the winter, usually until late May or early June.

If you are staring in Portland and headed to Bend, your best bet is Hwy 26 or Hwy 20. Anything else takes you out of the way (arguably, in heavy weather you might go out I-84 and then down Hwy 97).

If you are starting in Portland and heading to Boise or Salt Lake, I-84 is really the only choice, unless you are serious about sightseeing.

From Salem you are likely to head east to Hwy 20.

From Eugene if you are headed to Bend you'd go up to Hwy 20, if you are headed to the SE you'd go out Hwy 58.

From Medford, you'd go east on Hwy 140.

There are some smaller twistier roads.
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Old 04-11-2015, 12:53 PM
 
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Likewise, the easiest way from the coast to I5 is usually the one you are closest to. Hwy. 101 can be a pain to drive, so I don't know if you gain much from driving north or south to the next east-west highway.

I've never driven Hwys 20, 22 or 42; it's been years since I was on 26, but I remember it as a nice, straight shot. I would pick Hwy. 126 over 38 for efficiency, and Hwy. 34 is a beautiful, slow drive.
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Old 04-11-2015, 01:33 PM
 
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Thanks for the information, but I'm looking for something a little more specific.

Where I'm starting from doesn't matter. I just want two routes:

1. The most gentle route from the Oregon coast to I-5.

2. The most gentle route from I-5 over the Cascades to eastern Oregon.

This is excluding the I-84 around Portland and the Gorge area. (Love ya Portland, you just got too much traffic.)

I can start from anywhere. It's not a vacation type, sightseeing tour where I have to be in a certain place at a certain time. Basically, I'm not a fan of dangling over mountain edges. So, I'm looking for a route across the Coast mountains and the Cascades with the least elevation, "pucker factor."

I should also say I do remember the family who tried a "shortcut" to the coast from I-5 around the Bear Camp area, (southern Siskiyous) and got hopelessly lost on the Forest Service roads. The father tried to look for help and died of exposure.
I wouldn't try that in summer let alone winter.

Last edited by IheartWA; 04-11-2015 at 01:43 PM..
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Old 04-11-2015, 01:39 PM
 
Location: Portland Metro
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IheartWA View Post
1. The most gentle route from the Oregon coast to I-5.

2. The most gentle route from I-5 over the Cascades to eastern Oregon.
1. Hwy 22
2. Hwy 58
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Old 04-11-2015, 05:06 PM
 
Location: North Idaho
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From Florence to Eugene is a good road. Then from Eugene to Bend along the McKenzie River is one of the easiest roads to get to Central Oregon. You can head east from Bend and it is two lane buy fairly straight and level.
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Old 04-11-2015, 05:57 PM
 
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So Eugene west to the coast and east to Bend is good. Looks like it on Google maps. Highway 22 to the coast good also. Ok, that'll do 'er. Thanks!
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Old 04-12-2015, 08:08 PM
 
Location: Dallas, Oregon & Sunsites Arizona
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126 58
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Old 04-14-2015, 12:23 AM
 
Location: At the Beach :-)
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"1. The most gentle route from the Oregon coast to I-5."

I-5 to Salem (since you want to avoid PDX traffic farther north), then along 22 to 18, and on to 101. The elevation is lower than Hwy 26, at about 800' as opposed to about 1,600', and in the winter, the roads are much less icy and/or snowy than along Hwy 26.

If you're up for considerable traffic part of the way, you could get on 99E from I-5. Go through Tualatin, Sherwood, Newberg, and Dundee (a HORRIBLE bottleneck of a town that slows traffic in any direction with its rough, narrow, single lane in each direction hwy, and School Zone speeds from 7 am to 5 pm on weekdays), to Hwy 18, to Hwy 101. The highest area of the Coast Range taking that route is the same as going through Salem. It's a marginally shorter route if you're coming from the direction of Portland, than going to Salem is, but either way you choose, you're likely to spend the same amount of time driving.

You could go south on I-5 to Corvallis and head west over Hwy 20 to Newport, but if you're at all prone to car sickness, like I am, it can be a miserable ride on the winding, narrow road.

Keep in mind that any of those highways can have washouts, downed trees, or other hazards during the winter, and that summer is often spent repairing the damage left from the ravages of winter.
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