Oregon's Best Road Trip for Eco-Lovers

A land of towering firs, crystal-clear lakes, and farmers markets, southern Oregon has long been ahead of the eco-friendly curve.

GoodBean Coffee Company
165 S. Oregon St., Jacksonville, 800/480-4036,

MacLevin's Whole Foods Deli
150 W. California St., Jacksonville, 541/899-1251, whitefish sandwich $12, closed Tues. and Wed.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival
15 S. Pioneer St. (box office), Ashland, 541/482-4331,, tickets from $20

Eugene has Ken Kesey to thank for its ultraliberal spirit: The LSD-loving author grew up and died here and, though he spent a good chunk of his adulthood in California, he had a huge influence on the town. His legacy persists today—the city leans so far to the left, in fact, that it's sometimes referred to as the People's Republic of Eugene. When Alex and I get to theSaturday Market after the three-hour drive from Ashland, it makes the market in Bend look tame in comparison. There are hippies, all right—women wearing crowns made of tinsel and ribbon, and old men with beads in their gray beards. On a grassy patch in the shade, a band plays bluegrass music on guitars, banjos, washboards, and a kazoo. Across the street at the farmers market, vendors sell bouquets of flowers, bushels of mesclun, and orange beets.

We grab a bite to eat from an Afghan food vendor and sit on a wall next to some bongo players. All of a sudden, a wiry older man with his silver hair tied back and wearing a tie-dyed T-shirt and denim vest starts dancing alone in the square. Everyone cheers and claps—and I find myself smiling. I'd join in, too, if I had the proper attire.

Saturday Market
Eighth Ave. and Oak St., Eugene, 541/686-8885,, open Apr. to mid-Nov.

Flying into Portland is the best option from most parts of the country; reaching Bend or Eugene by air usually requires at least one stop (two if you're coming from the East Coast). For the quickest—and most scenic—route to Bend from Portland, head southeast on Route 26 over the Cascade Range. The drive should take about two and a half hours.


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