I will be travelling from Portland (more specifically Hillsboro (Tanasbourne)) to Bend, Oregon for a weekend ski trip. I have not done this route before and know of a couple ways via car to get there.

  1. Route 26 East, past Mt Hood then Route 97 down into Bend
  2. Route 5 South connecting to Route 22 then 20 into Bend.

According to Google maps the quickest is #2 (slightly) 3hr 15min with #1 being 3hr 23min.

Since I will be leaving by car (Chevrolet Cruze) from Hillsboro at 5pm Fri 13th Feb what would be the better route considering the following

  • Road conditions such as snow/ice
  • Road quality
  • Safety
  • Peak traffic through Portland (for #1)
  • Would the car be suitable or would a 4x4 be required

I will not have chains so I would imagine safety is best. I have not driven in snow/ice before

Google Maps

  • 3
    Any reason you aren't planning to carry chains? It's possible you will be traveling through an area where it's required to carry them. tripcheck.com/Pages/chain-laws.asp
    – PersonX
    Jan 19, 2015 at 12:09
  • I am not local to the area so was not sure. Thanks for the website. I see that those roads require chains to be carried
    – aqwert
    Jan 19, 2015 at 19:05

2 Answers 2


If you go to http://tripcheck.com, you can get the Oregon Department of Transportation's report on road conditions.

In particular, the little blue circles on the map indicate "snow zones"; you can click them for information on how much snow is on the road, etc. Also noted are chain requirements; it seems that all of them are marked "Carry chains regardless of conditions". There are links for information on Oregon's chain laws.

In particular, it appears that every route from Portland to Bend includes sections where it is mandatory to carry chains, including US 26, OR 22, US 20, and even the I-84 route suggested by Mark. So if you don't have chains, you can't go.

I agree that the I-84 route seems least likely to be snowy. But a better idea would be to check the conditions shortly before your trip. You can then evaluate which route is best, or if it is safe to go at all. (Do not underestimate this last part! If you are not comfortable with the road conditions you might encounter, it is much better to stay home. Once you are on your way, there's a condition that people call "get-there-itis" which may tend to pressure you to go on even if it's not safe.)


If you've truly never driven on ice or snow before, my recommendation is: neither. A winding mountain road is not the place to be learning. The first time you try to stop, you will skid, the first time you take a corner, you will be going too fast, and it's much better to do so in a place where the worst that can happen is that a tow truck needs to pull your car out of the ditch.

My recommended route is to take I-84 to US-197 to US-97 to Bend. You cross the Cascades near sea level, so it's far less likely to have snow. It's about 45 minutes longer under normal conditions, but if US-26 and SR-22 are snowy, it could be considerably faster.

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