Oregon is one of those states that can surprise you. Well, at least it surprised me. We did a road trip there years ago, and in a two hour period you can go from farmland to mountains to desert to rainforest. And that doesn't even include the coastal area. I'm doing research for a project, and came across this property that I had found years ago, Summer Lake Hot Springs. It's in the area they do call the 'outback', and it's about two hours from Bend, which means its about five-ish hours from Portland. It's far, but it seems very cool, especially if you want to have a cheap vacation, where you'll come back probably feeling as if you were just at an expensive yoga retreat. Check it out. It isn't fancy at all, but the hot springs are beautiful, there are yoga classes, the landscape is insanely beautiful (the kind you just zone out and stare at for hours), and there are lots of things to do close by. (Fishing on the highly rated Chewaucan River 6 miles away, hiking on trails that have rock art that is estimated to be over 7000 years old.)
(Metolius River photo courtesy of Benjamin Edwards Photography)
But because Summer Lake is so far out there, and is a place I would probably only want to be for 2-3 days, I would sandwich it in between a couple of other stops. Since it's two hours from Bend, I'd probably stay for three days in the Metolius River area, which we loved. The place we liked the most was the Metolius River Resort. It wasn't available when we were there, so we stayed at the Metolius River Lodge, and liked it alot, but we thought the resort (just across the river) looked a litle bit more polished. Right there is a great little restaurant called the Kokanee Cafe, and there's also the Camp Sherman Store, specializing in "what you forgot" since 1915.
(Suttle Lake photo courtesy of Benjamin Edwards Photography)
On my way back to Portland, I'd come the same route as I came down, and I'd go to the Lodge at Suttle Lake , which looks so good. I can't believe we didn't know about it when we were there, but now it's on the list. It's just about 20 minutes from Camp Sherman, where the Metolius properties are, but feels very different, and that area has so much to discover. Unless you're plotting a two week road trip (and if you are, email me, and I will give you some other suggestions), you'll be happy that your return route is in the direction of home.
(Photo courtesy of Terry Poe Photography)