For nineteenth-century pioneers on the arduous Oregon Trail, the rich and fertile Willamette Valley was the promised land of OREGON, and it’s still the heart of the state’s social, political and cultural life. Portland, the biggest city, is alternative, creative and one of the coolest cities in the USA right now; Salem, the state capital, maintains a small-town air; and Eugene is a lively, outdoorsy college community.

East of Portland, waterfalls cascade down mossy cliffs along the beautiful Columbia River Gorge, south of which looms the imposing silhouette of Mount Hood. Central Oregon is based around the popular recreation hub of Bend, while further south the liberal hamlet of Ashland offers a splash of culture with its annual Shakespeare Festival.

The Oregon coast’s most northerly town, Astoria, enjoys a magnificent setting strewn with imposing Victorian homes, while farther south, wide expanses of pristine sand are broken by jagged black monoliths and pale lighthouses look out from stark headlands over sheltered coves. Finally, the rugged deserts and lava fields of Eastern Oregon are much more remote, and some small towns still celebrate their cowboy roots with annual rodeos.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

USA features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

15 of the most beautiful places in Alaska

15 of the most beautiful places in Alaska

With mountains to climb, rivers to raft, glaciers to coo over and a bevy of bears to photograph, Alaska is the ultimate wilderness. From the moment you arrive, …

18 Jan 2017 • Sarah Reid camera_alt Gallery
8 ideas for cheap vacations in the US

8 ideas for cheap vacations in the US

Only a few of us can take a vacation that includes a private jet and a 15-course chef’s tasting menu at a top restaurant. For the rest of us, we have to make …

17 Jan 2017 • Jason Frye insert_drive_file Article
Why Atlanta is one of the top 10 cities you should visit in 2017

Why Atlanta is one of the top 10 cities you should visit in 2017

Georgia’s leafy capital is due its time in the spotlight. Dynamic, progressive and home to one of the country’s most exciting food scenes, Atlanta is the ne…

11 Jan 2017 • Eleanor Aldridge insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month