Filed under: Scenic Byways/Historic Routes
Umpqua River Oregon Scenic Byway
While in Oregon, we took the opportunity to drive the Umpqua River Oregon Scenic Byway. This is a 66-mile drive from Reedsport, Oregon along Highway 38 and the Umpqua River to Elkton, Oregon and then on Highway 138 to Oakland, Oregon. The trip provided us opportunities to see the river change from calm to rapids, and we saw a large variety of animals—the expected cattle and horses, but also donkeys, sheep, and buffalo; not to mention the Roosevelt Elk and deer.
Our trip started in Reedsport as we headed out of town and East on Highway 38 (which warrants a mention of the Sugar Shack to take care of that sweet tooth).
It is not far outside of Reedsport (about 3 miles) until we arrived at the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area. Every time we have driven past the viewing area, there have been a number of elk visible from the many pull-offs. This part of the Umpqua river winds its way through the trees.
The trip takes you through a variety of towns with a variety of shops and other businesses. While the river began on our left, we crossed an interesting bridge so that the river is now on our right.
As we traveled upriver, we began to see the river change from calm to full of rapids. Eventually, we came to Elkton. As we entered Elkton, we took the opportunity to visit the Elkton Community Education Center, where we saw the butterfly pavilion and a reconstruction of Fort Umpqua. We also noticed the River’s Edge Winery between the Highway and the river. At Elkton we made a right on Highway 138 to continue following the Scenic Byway. After Elkton, we noticed the light and dark gray rocks spotting the river, making an interesting pattern (I read that these are only visible during the summer when water levels are low).
On our trip, we noticed a sign warning us of congestion, and when we came around the corner there was a popular place selling burgers, called Tyee Landing. Some locals claimed they are the best burgers in Oregon. As we got closer to Sutherlin, the road was a bit less windy, and the views of the river were not as frequent.
Just a few miles before Sutherlin, we heard about the Rochester covered bridge that was only about 3 miles out of the way, so we decided to swing by. The open windows on each side of the bridge gave it an interesting character, and it was fun to see a covered bridge that is still used.
We returned to the Umpqua Scenic Byway and went through Sutherlin and on to Oakland. In Sutherlin we dined at Pedotti’s Italian Restaurant, which was excellent. Oakland has a restored area of town that includes antique shops, restaurants, and even a community theater melodrama.
At only 66 miles, this is an excellent drive to make in a day. You will have plenty of time to stop and experience the many sights and attractions. For more information about the route, see the Umpqua River Oregon Scenic Byway web site.