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Driving from SF to Portland and back!

4 posts
Driving from SF to Portland and back!

Hi Everyone!

I am planning our trip in early October to meet up with family who are flying in to Portland (from Boston). We live in SF and will be driving up and back with a 4 day stay with them in Dundee, OR and then 3 days in Cannon Beach,OR. It will be my husband and I, plus our 2.5 and 4.5 year old making the drive each way.

Since we live in SF, we have done a lot of the "day trips" around the area, so can bypass stopping at anything immediately outside of SF, but I am hoping to travel up in 2 days (one night in middle) and back down coast in 3 days (two nights). I know this is ambitious with the kiddos, but wanted to see what advice anyone has to add about the potential plan:

Thursday: from SF to Klamath Falls (total drive time 7-8 hours)

(bathroom pits stops a given)

- Stop 1: Redding or Whiskeytown (lunch)

- Stop 2: Mt Shasta or Weed, CA

- Stop 3: Klamath Falls, OR (dinner and stay)

Friday: Klamath Falls to Dundee (total drive time 5-6 hours)

- Stop 1: Crater Lake

- Stop 2: Eugene (lunch)

- Stop 3: Dundee, OR (stay with family)

Saturday-Tuesday staying in Dundee

(Family planning Willamette Valley part of trip)

Tuesday-Friday staying in Cannon Beach

(Family planning Oregon coast part of trip)

Friday: Cannon Beach to Gold Beach (total drive time 6-7 hours)

- Stop 1: Tillamook Cheese Factory (might do this with fam so might skip here)

- Stop 2: Sea Lion Caves/Florence (lunch)

- Stop 3: Bandon

- Stop 4: Gold Beach (dinner, stay)

Saturday: Gold Beach to Shelter Cove (drive time: 5.5-6 hours)

- Stop 1: Klamath

- Stop 2: Trinidad (lunch)

- Stop 3: Eureka or straight through to Avenue of Giants

- Stop 4: Shelter Cove (Lost Coast) (stay)

Sunday: Shelter Cove to SF (drive time: 7 hours)

- Stop 1: Leggett

- Stop 2: Mendocino

- Stop 3: Jenner

---- and home.

So, lots of driving with 2 little kiddos, but we do weekend treks often so they are used to a few hours in the car anyways. Any advice would be great! TIA! :)

4 replies to this topic
Napa, CA
Destination Expert
for Napa
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8,432 posts
20 reviews
1. Re: Driving from SF to Portland and back!

I'd skip Whiskeytown especially in October. It's mainly frequented by boaters and campers. Also, Shelter Cove is an interesting choice. It's pretty remote and the road out there is challenging if you hit rainy weather which is always a possibility in October.

Staying in Klamath Falls and visiting Crater Lake would make a late lunch in Eugene. Maybe have breakfast at the Crater Lake Lodge. Even if your motel serves breakfast, dining at the lodge is special. You can see both Crater Lake and Mt. Shasta through the restaurant windows and the food is good too. The lodge closes October 15th, I believe.

Looks like a great road trip. I've done a very similar trip in October and lucked out with the weather.

Eugene, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Eugene, Springfield
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9,978 posts
200 reviews
2. Re: Driving from SF to Portland and back!

I would head up I-5 to Ashland or Medford instead of Klamath Falls, much better destinations. Be aware that Crater Lake Lodge closes for the winter Oct. 15th. Keep an eye on www.tripcheck.com and the national park website for current road and weather conditions. Winter can come early at 8,000ft.

Skip Sea Lion Caves. Overpriced privately owned and underwhelming. Instead, see sea lions up close and personal for free on the dock of Newport's historic bayfront.

4 posts
3. Re: Driving from SF to Portland and back!

Thanks @sonapaoma and @oregonpoppa!

I didn't even think "winter" weather in early October, since in SF it's some of our best weather!! We are leaving October 4th-ish (still considering throwing in an extra day to get up there), so we could potentially stop at the Crater Lake Lodge before their close on October 15th (provided they don't shut down early with weather!). Cross our fingers for nice weather though!

Shelter Cove was more for the appeal of the remote before heading back to the city, but not a necessity. Is there somewhere else along that drive back that you'd recommend?

Will check Ashland and Medford as better options for stopping on the way up and definitely skip the touristy Sea Lion Caves for the more authentic experience in Newport!

Thanks again!!

Napa, CA
Destination Expert
for Napa
Level Contributor
8,432 posts
20 reviews
4. Re: Driving from SF to Portland and back!

We always take US 97 through Klamath Falls when going to Crater Lake. It's an easier drive with less trucks and about a half hour quicker. Also, in summer Ashland is an expensive town to find a motel room due to the Shaskespeare Festival but I'm not sure if that would be the case in October.

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