Best known for its huge cheese industry, Tillamook is a nondescript town that's worth a brief stop to down some dairy. Cheese production began in Tillamook in the 1890s, when an English cheesemaker brought his cheddar-making techniques to the fledgling dairies along Tillamook Bay.
Oregon's most easterly city, Ontario and its environs are often considered an extension of Idaho's fertile Snake River valley. The Malheur, Payette and Owyhee Rivers join the Snake's wide valley here, with irrigated farms producing a variety of crops despite the arid climate. Onions, sugar beets, apples, corn and other agricultural bounty are the region's economic backbone.
Enterprise is a small, friendly place that's less expensive and upscale than its nearby sister town of Joseph, just 6 miles away. However, it shares with Joseph an attraction for artists, as well as an exceptional location surrounded by grassy meadows, pine forests and the stunning Wallowa Mountains.
There's no longer any lake in view here, but at an elevation of 4800ft, homely Lakeview is 'the tallest town in Oregon.' It's also known as the 'hang-gliding capital of the West,' with surrounding towering fault-block rims and prevailing westerly winds bringing hundreds of aficionados for summertime hang-gliding and paragliding events.
Oregon Caves National Monument
This very popular tourist destination lies 19 miles (and a winding 40-minute drive) east of Cave Junction on Hwy 46. The Oregon Caves began as seafloor limestone deposits that were eventually hoisted into the Siskiyou Mountains. Molten rock forced its way up into rock faults to form marble, and acidified groundwater seeped through cracks to carve underground channels.
Over its 13 million-year life span, the Snake River, which neatly straddles the border between Oregon and Idaho, has carved out the deepest river gorge in North America – yes, at 8000ft from highest peak to river, it's deeper even than the Grand Canyon (though not nearly as dramatic).
Maupin & the Lower Deschutes River
The Lower Deschutes River boasts some of the Northwest's most renowned white-water rafting. For a dramatic peek at white water without getting wet, head to Sherars Falls, about 9 miles north of Maupin. You might see Native Americans dip-net fishing on wooden platforms right above the water. Maupin provides most of the area's services.
One of the more laid-back beach resorts on Oregon's coast is the hamlet of Manzanita, boasting lovely white-sand beaches and a slightly upscale clientele. It's much smaller and far less hyped than Cannon Beach, and still retains a peaceful atmosphere, although there's a lot more going on here these days than even a few years ago.
An early transportation center, Cascade Locks (at exit 44 off I-84) gets its name from the navigational locks, completed in 1896, that cut through the treacherous rapids here (now submerged). The town flourished throughout the 1930s, when the area was home to thousands of Bonneville Dam construction workers. At the locks, note the wooden Native American fishing platforms.
Sprawling Roseburg lies in a valley near the confluence of the South and North Umpqua Rivers. The city is mostly a cheap, modern sleepover for travelers headed elsewhere (such as Crater Lake), but it does contain a cute historic downtown area and is surrounded by award-winning wineries. Two exceptional area sights include a regional museum and a drive-through safari park.
Located 10 miles south of Lincoln City, little Depoe Bay is edged by modern timeshare condominiums but still retains some original coastal charm. It lays claim to having the 'world's smallest navigable harbor' and being the 'world's whale-watching capital' – pretty big talk for such a pint-sized town.
Located 6 miles from Joseph, Wallowa Lake was formed when glaciers plowed down out of the Wallowas, pushing huge piles of displaced rock. These rock moraines eventually stopped the progress of the glacier, which melted, creating a lake basin. Today the lake is surrounded by dramatic peaks, including the 9617ft Chief Joseph Mountain.