We are going to the 41st. BMW Motorcycle Rally from July 18 to 21, 2013 in Salem, Oregon. We want to know which scenic roads are best going down the coast of Washington/Oregon to Salem for the event and then which roads to take going east from Salem, Oregon into Montana and up again to Waterton National Park on the US/Canada border. We will be entering the USA near Abbotsford British Columbia. We want to stay away from major highways as much as possible.....any ideas? Of course we will be riding our motorcycles.Do not know the area at all and would like to take in the best scenery that we can. We have two weeks in total.
This depends entirely on what you want to do. If you want to take the coast roads the whole way, then I suggest doing just that.
Keep in mind that all state parks in Washington and many of those in Oregon require a day use fee.10 in Washington,5 in Oregon, or an annual pass which may be cheaper.
From Anacortes, head south to Deception Pass State Park, then along the western edge of Whidbey Island, then cross to Port Townsend on the ferry. Port Townsend is a very attractive little town and worth a visit.
Take highway 101 west along the "North Coast" from there, and then south. This area is home to Olympic National Park, and this area is well worth spending a few days (I suggest a week at least normally but you don't have that much time).
101 doesn't spend much time along the coast directly and so you will have to take branch loops and branch end roads to get to many of the communities along the coast where the actual scenery is located. You will have to adjust your route to your pace.
Some of the best scenery on the Oregon Coast is south of Seaside and north of Tillamook and even extending south to the Cape Lookout area, so you will want to leave some time to explore this area. Several really good state parks are through that area.
To get to Salem your best route is east on highway 22. It isn't very scenic but it is better than many of the alternatives. For example, highway 6 or highway 26 routes you through Beaverton to get to Salem and you wind up in a bunch of suburban sprawl congestion.
I've got some stuff I've written about the Oregon coast on my VT pages, and a decent place to start with that is here:
"Oregon Coast: Pacific Wonderland" - Oregon Things to Do Tip by glabah
I haven't got my Washington coast stuff organized too well yet but here is a starting point:
"Washington Coast and All That" - Washington State Things to Do Tip by glabah
While in Salem I certainly suggest going east a little bit and exploring Silver Falls State Park, especially if you enjoy hiking:
"Beautiful Scenery & Great Water Falls" - Silver Falls State Park by glabah
While you are out that way you might want to explore Silverton a bit as well:
"Gateway to Silver Falls and Oregon Garden" - Silverton by glabah
For going back east, there are no routes that will be lesser traveled that I would suggest as being good options. You either take one of the paved roads which are extremely busy during tourist season, or you wind up on unpaved Forest Service and logging roads.
However, probably the most scenic route out of Portland to take is the old Columbia River highway. From downtown Troutdale you just continue going east on fairly well marked minor roads, and hit a number of viewpoints and waterfalls along this. However, much of this old highway was destroyed when they built Interstate 84, so it doesn't go all the way through any more. It can get you almost to Bonneville.
This whole area east of Troutdale is called the Columbia Gorge and it is now a National Scenic Area. Either the Oregon or Washington sides yield some very good scenery and I can't suggest one side over the other. I suggest the old Columbia Gorge Highway because even though it is crowded with tourists most of the year it is crowded with tourists for some very good reasons.
Due to ice accumulation bridges over the Columbia River in the Columbia Gorge have an open grate that is extremely hazardous for motorcycles to use. This includes the Bridge of the Gods in Cascades Locks and the Hood River bridge. Motorcycles do use them but my understanding is that it is very hazardous to do so.
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Thank you for your most informative answer. It is very much appreciated. We have as well attended at our local AMA and they are putting together a Triptic summary of a route outline that we have provided to them. We as well are having GPS units installed on our bikes. Thank you again.
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