Hotel: $142 ($45×2+$52, Sleep Inn, Bend and Super 8, Baker City)
Car Rental: $252 (four days, luxurious Ford Expedition 4×4 for 6 people)
Average cost per person: ~$150 (4 days total). This included a luxurious car and upper mid-scale hotel.
Southeast Oregon is within drive-able distance from both Seattle and Portland airport. Bend is 3.5 hours drive from Portland. The drive though OR 26 goes through the woods and is very pleasant. The drive passes though Detroit Lake, where you can take some time to enjoy the beautiful lake.
Drive from Bend to Baker city passes through John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, which is home to the the famous Painted Hills, best known for its colorful geology built by layers of plant fossils and breathtaking views.
The last leg of the drive passes beside the Hells Canyon. The 5.5 hour detour from Baker City to La Grande, Oregon follows the deep canyons carved by snake river, providing a thrilling drive in the serene jungle.
Most of the mid-grade hotel chains have decent properties in Bend. During high season Bend can be pretty full with limited availability. Redmond, OR which is within 17 miles, can also be a decent place to stay while visiting Bend. IHG and Choice have very decent properties in Bend. IHG has a vacation resort, which if booked early enough, is available for only 10K IHG points.We chose to stay in Sleep Inn, Bend for only 12K points a night, for ~$45 per night instead of $130 per night if booked directly with money. (@3.77cents/point, available through Daily Getaways once a year).
Wyndham was running a great promotion of 8K points on 2nd, 3rd and 4th stay (total of 24K). This is an awesome promotion by Wyndham. We chose to use this and stayed at Super 8, Baker City for $52 and got 8K points (worth $40 as per FrequentMiler)
Day 0: Drive to Bend
Portland to Bend. 3.5 hours. Stop at Detroit Lake, especially at the bridge (see below). You will find a parking spot on the left just before the bridge. A short walk on the bridge leads to a divide in the river on one side and another island on the other side. If you are lucky, with clear skies you might be able to see snow clad peaks looming on top of the lake.
Day 1: Bend and Around
Pilot Butte: Panoramic VIew
Mt Bachelor: Ski and fun in the snow
Sparks Lake & Hosmer Lake: Semi-Frozen Lake with beautiful Vistas
Lave River Cave: Self-guided walking tour in a dark cave created by lava flow
Lava Butte: Look into a volcanic crater
Day 2: John Day National Monument
Painted Hills: The highlight of the trip. Cannot believe without seeing with your own eyes.
Ship Rock Unit: Make sure to visit the visitor center which hosts some of the fossils found in this area
Day 3: Hells Canyon/ Drive back to Portland
Drive through Narrow Path
Stay at La Grande or Drive Back to Portland
Natural History Center: Awesome details about Lewis and Clark Expedition and Pacific North West evolving through time. You can still see the broken mining from gold rush.