In the 19th century, settlers traveled in wagons along the Oregon Trail to fulfill the nation’s Manifest Destiny. Today, Oregon retains some of the rugged frontier spirit of these forebears. The diversity of its populace is mirrored by the state’s geography, as jagged, surf-pounded coasts yield to lush, rain-soaked mountain forests and hardscrabble southeastern deserts.
In the north, the grand Columbia River Gorge is a windsurfing mecca, and in winter, nearby Mount Hood’s volcanic slopes are blanketed with snow and skiers. On the state’s 363 miles of all-public coastline, dramatic cliffs give way to sandy dunes, lighthouses and charming seaside towns. The Willamette Valley, in the northwest, is the most populated and fertile terrain — oenophiles will have no difficulty filling an itinerary with stops at the increasingly prominent wineries, which produce spectacular vintages of Pinot Noir and other varietals. The city of Portland is bohemian, eco-friendly and cosmopolitan, with serious art and cuisine cultures.