EV Trip: Portland to Oregon Coast

By · June 25, 2014

Oregon is very serious about electric cars. The state has its own Chief EV Officer, Ashley Horvat, who is tasked with bringing electric car-driving tourists from northern California, British Columbia and Washington. It’s feasible, now that the I5 corridor is fully equipped with fast charging all the way. “Tourists can come in with their own cars, or through an agreement with Nissan, rent them from Enterprise or Hertz,” Horvat told PluginCars.com. Either way, here’s one exciting EV itinerary using Portland as the point of departure.

EV Trips: Portland, Willamette Valley and Oregon Coast

Source: Google Maps


1Portland: Wonderful and Weird

Portland and Electric Avenue Charging

Spend the first day of your Oregon EV trip in Portland—the land of hip cafes, unicycles, home brews, and tribal tattoos. On latest count, there are five downtown Portland hotels with Level 2 charging—most of them free for guests: Hotel deLuxe, Hotel Modera, Hotel Monaco, Heathmen Hotel, and Hotel Rose (formerly Hotel Fifty).

Even with a full pack, you should visit Electric Avenue on the campus of Portland State University. In 2011, the single block of SW Montgomery Street—between SW Broadway and SW 6th Avenue—was transformed into a one-way corridor for electric cars with six curbside EV charging stations. There are multiple free quick chargers and Level 2 charging stations—a showcase of charging equipment from JFE, SPX, ShorePower, Op-Connect, Efacec and GE.

A visit to Portland would be incomplete without a stop at Voodoo Donuts. The shop is infamous for its crazy décor, iconic pink boxes, and unusual flavors—including maple bacon, bubble gum, and fruit loops. The shape of some doughnuts can be irreverent (and sometimes inappropriate for children). A 10-minute walk west on Burnside or Couch will bring you to appropriately named Powell’s City Books, the flagship store of the self-proclaimed largest independent bookstore in the world. It’s enormous. (By the way, there are five Level 2 chargers a half-block off Burnside at the Twelve West Parking Garage.)

Complete your day at Portland’s Washington Park. The popular spot offers miles of trails, an extensive rose garden, and the must-see Portland Japanese Garden. The 5.5-acre garden, designed by Professor Takuma Tono, a legendary Japanese landscape architect, is a living reflection of Japanese traditional culture, influenced by Shinto, Buddhist, and Taoist philosophies. It’s ranked among the world’s finest examples of Japanese gardens—successfully realizing its goal of conveying a sense of peace and tranquility.

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2Oregon Wine at Willamette Valley

Winderlea Vineyard and Winery and EV Charging in Newberg

The route out of Portland along Highway 99 to the west, and to the coast on Highway 18, is linked by five DC quick chargers and more than a dozen Level 2 charging spots. That gives EV drivers excellent access to the rolling hills and vineyards of Willamette Valley. The region’s unique climate and rich soil make ideal conditions for growing the pinot noir grape, the valley’s signature wine.

The historic downtown Newberg, just 25 miles west of Portland, provides the first DC quick charger. There are 11 tasting rooms within walking distance to downtown Newberg. Access Oregon Wine provides tours, and behind-the-scenes visits with some of Oregon's top boutique winemakers.

Four miles down the road, in Dundee, check out Winderlea Vineyard and Winery, a leader in biodynamic farming. And there’s Argyle Winery, one of the first in Oregon to be recognized for its sustainable production methods. Continue six more miles to Dayton's Stoller Family Estate, the first LEED-certified winery in the U.S. Stoller offers a chance to stay at the vineyard at one of its three vacation homes. While in Dayton, consider having dinner at The Joel Palmer House, courtesy of chef Chris Czarnecki. Level 2 EV charging, on premises, is free for guests.

You could also drive on to McMinnville, where there is DC quick charger and Level 2 at the Oregon Mutual Insurance building. The town of McMinnville is the county seat and largest city of Yamhill County. The town offers wine tastings, craft beer, and critically acclaimed restaurants—as well as quaint inns and B&Bs.

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3Oregon Coast

Gleneden Beach and charging at Lincoln City Cultural Center

From McMinnville, it’s a 58-mile drive to the coast. If you’re concerned about range, stop at the DC quick charger and Level 2 at the Spirit Mountain Casino, about halfway there. The casino has lodging, entertainment, and an espresso bar.

Highway 18 reaches the coast and Highway 101 just north of Lincoln City. The Lincoln City Cultural Center has its own DC quick charging and L2 chargers, and can serve your base for coastal exploration. There are seven miles of beachfront in Lincoln City. You’ll often find the beaches filled with colorful kites. In fact, Lincoln City was named Kite Capital of the World by Kitelines Magazine. Accommodations in Lincoln City include the top-ranked Looking Glass Inn, Historic Anchor Inn, and Shearwater Inn.

Gleneden Beach State Recreation Area is only seven miles to the south. A short paved trail descends from the parking and picnic area through the shore pine forest to a soft sand beach. Nearby Salishan Spit is a haven for sea lions. (The Salishan Resort and Spa at Gleneden Beach has a NEMA 14-50 outlet for EV drivers who prepare with the right adapters.)

Continue your coastal adventure down at Depoe Bay, where you can shop or dine with views of the ocean. Waves run beneath lava beds and build pressure to spout water as high as 60 feet into the air. Yaquina Head in nearby Newport is the site of Oregon’s tallest and second oldest active lighthouse. The 93-foot-tall structure was completed in 1872. The lighthouse is located at a natural area that was created by lava flow more than 14 million years ago.

Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area extends out from the Oregon coast, one mile into the Pacific Ocean. The offshore islands are a year-round refuge for harbor seals and in warmer weather, a seasonal home for thousands of nesting seabirds. Gray whales can be spotted during their annual migrations to Mexico (late fall-early winter) and Alaska (late winter-early spring). During the summer months, gray whales can sometimes be seen feeding in the shallow waters around the headland.

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4Back to Portland

Getting back to Portland is a matter of backtracking the 90 miles. After passing through Willamette Valley, you’ll be familiar with the charging spots along the way. Nearly any pit stop along the way will get back to the city. Consider a last stop at Sherwood Shari's Restaurant and Pies, on Highway 99, 20 miles outside of Portland. There’s both Level 2 and DC quick charging, as well as fresh baked pies. Try the Oregon Marionberry.

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