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WHAT TO EXPECT

This route heads south to Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park.    
You’ll visit national parks with geysers, thermals, caves, dinosaur fossils, spectacular
scenery.  The route from Portland goes east along the Columbia River Gorge into desert.  
Maybe you’ll visit the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, Hells Canyon.  

As you read this you may wish to trace the route on your road map.
Portland, Oregon to Denver, Colorado
    SIDE TRIP.  Before heading east you may wish to visit Mt.
    St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.  To go there, head
    north from Portland, Oregon on I-5 to Silver Lake, Washington.  
    From here, go east to …

    Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.  Go to the
    observation point and see this remarkable landmark.  This
    location is several miles from the volcano but you will get a good
    view.  As you drive into the park, consider the fact that most of
    the growth is new since 1980.  We have seen the area progress
    from charred remains of trees to the rapid re-growth that has
    surprised the naturalists.  This will be another highlight of your
    trip.  Go to I-5, and then back south on I-5 to…


Oregon

From I-5 and I-84 head east on I-84 to ...  

Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area that parallels the
highway.  Leave I-84 and take the more scenic old US-30.  See the
falls
(photo) at Bridal Veil Falls State Park – they’re worth going out of
the way to see.  As you go along the gorge keep an eye out for the
sail boarding – on a nice day you’ll see dozens of the colorful sails
darting about on the Columbia River near the Hood River.  To the
south you may see the classic
Mount Hood.  Then go on to …

Bonneville Lock and Dam.  Here you can see fish jumping up the
ladder, see the generating station and if you haven’t seen a fish
hatchery here’s your chance to see a different type of fish fry than you
get at the local seafood restaurant.  Then to …

The Dalles.  (Yes, “The” is part of the proper name!)  Indians have
the exclusive right to fish salmon on the Columbia River so you may
see frail docks along the shore.  In this area there is a tour boat that
goes to the Bonneville Dam.  Also, a steam train chugs tourists up

Mt. Hood – sorta fun.  As you continue east on I-84 note the
progression from fertile green to harsh arid desert …

Baker City.  As you approach Baker City turn east on Route 86.  First
you will come to the
Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, which provides
an insight of the wagon trains that led to the development of Oregon.  
The hardships can hardly be imagined.  Many perished.  Maybe you’ll
hike down the hill to the deep wagon ruts that can still be seen.  Then
continue on Route 86 to…



Hells Canyon National Recreation Area.  (The roads are fine, but a
large RV might have difficulty if the narrow parking lot is full.)  This
canyon straddles the Idaho-Oregon border.  As you view the canyon
that rises from the lake – think of the hardships faced by the people
who homesteaded here until the 1940s.  And, they were so self
sufficient that they only went for supplies every six months or so.  It’s
harsh, but beautiful.  We’ve taken the boat tour and considered it
worthwhile.  Return to I-86 and continue east…

    DECISION TIME.   Go into Wyoming to Yellowstone National
    Park, Grand Tetons, and Jackson Hole.  If this is your choice,
    you can go east on I-84 to I-86 and then Route 26 to Jackson
    Hole.  Below “Wyoming”

    OR… Continue on I-84 to the Salt Lake City area.  If this is your
    choice, when you approach Salt Lake City take I-80 east to US-
    191 and go south to Vernal, Utah.  See Dinosaur National Park,
    Colorado and head to Denver area to go east.   Below,
    “Colorado”

    OR… South into Nevada to see old mining areas, caverns, and
    maybe spend time at the casinos.  Connect to Route D near
    Twin Falls, ID

FROM ROUTE F connect to Route E at Livingston, Montana.  Go
east on I-90 to US-89 south to …

Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park.  This is a marvelous park with Old
Faithful and numerous geysers and thermals
(photo) that spew water
or mud – some regularly, others spasmodically.  More of these in this
park than all of the rest of the world!  Also, go to the
Yellowstone
Grand Canyon
.  This canyon is well worth visiting.  The park is
crowded from early June until early September so it is advisable to get
lodging reservations at the park or nearby.  Then head south to …

Grand Teton National Park.  After you thought nothing could
surpass Yellowstone you will see the unforgettable reflections of the
mountains in the lake.  Each park is so different that you can’t make
comparisons.  Now head south on US-191 to…

Jackson Hole.  This is an attractive town, a bit ersatz, as if it has
been designed like the set of a western movie.  You’ll enjoy strolling
into the park at the center of the town.  You’ll pass under an arch
made of antlers.  (A group walking ahead of us stopped at a quiet
spot, conducted a marriage, and then they were on their way.)  While
here check out the white water rafting on the Snake River – the half
day trip is a lot of fun.  No experience required.  Then south on US191
to Vernal, Utah and then east on US-40 to …

Colorado

Dinosaur National Monument.  You’ve seen dinosaur fossils in
museums, but did you ever see the digs from which they take them?  
Here, you will see a mass of fossils.  You will learn how there happens
to be so many at one place – by many, I’m referring to a bank of rock
with them jutting out as though they’re just stacked, waiting to be
harvested.  

From here you can continue east on US-40 to

Rocky Mountain National Park, if the road is clear of snow.  
However, consider the fact that the road climbs to 12,000 feet and the
air is rarified.  We walked to the crest, which took much effort because
of the altitude.  This route will take you through the noted ski area of
Steamboat Springs.

Or, continue to the Denver area on the Interstates
Near Denver to head east to Utah or west

Connect to
Route G  to Utah to Tennessee- Mid country
Bridal Veil Falls State Park
Hells Canyon National Recreation Area
Hundreds of thermals steam and gurgle at Yellowstone National Park
Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument
Travel Letters