Everyone talks about the Pacific Coast Highway 1 drive down the California coast, but don’t side step its neighbour to the north. The Oregon Coast drive (technically US Route Highway 101) stretches 368 miles. You have one lane of highway all the way down, with the exception of the occasional turnout so the driver behind you can pass. There are often spots where you can pull aside, and get out of your car, to fully take in the breathtaking views.
The drives starts in a place called Astoria, at the mouth of the Columbia River. For the uninitiated, you are actually driving along the tail end of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, which extends 4,900 miles from Pittsburgh, to Astoria.
Our drive was rainy, stormy, misty, grey and majestic. We stopped at a rest area called “Dismal Nitch” (fantastic name), before crossing the New Youngs Bay Bridge. From there it’s a slow, winding drive through cavernous forests, occasional pop-outs for a view of the ocean, nature trails, quaint towns, countless baseball fields, historical sites and cool restaurants, ending at the bottom of the state, at the southwest corner of the Siskiyou National Forest.
But it’s the sweeping views on high of the Pacific Ocean, and the rocky coast line, that makes you stop and ponder.
A highlight was Cannon Beach, the small coastal city in the north part of the state, marked by Haystack Rock, which juts out of the surf (a seasonal haven for tufted puffins). Turn off the 101 onto Warren Way towards the long, sandy shoreline. The sun comes out briefly – that’s the “Oregon Sun” as someone tells us. Enjoy it because it will be gone in twenty minutes.
The BMW M850i xDrive is the perfect travel companion for an extensive drive marked by such visual beauty, in part because of the car’s safety features. Features like the Lane Departure Warning and Lane Change Warning systems keeps you in your lane. The Driving Assistant Professional includes evasion aid, which reacts to pedestrians. The Crossing Traffic Warning includes brake intervention.
BMW launched the car with 523 horsepower and 553 lb-ft torque, TwinPower Turbo V8, and that really comes in handy when the southbound lanes break into two, for passing, and you need some temporary pep to get you in front of that big rig ahead of you, as the road narrows back to one lane.
The maximum traction and handling ability also comes into play (the BMW xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system has been improved with the M850i) on a winding road. With the wet, rainy conditions through most of the drive, the car’s electronically controlled dampers adapted seamlessly to ever-changing road surface conditions, including bumps, again filling the driver with a sense of confidence, knowing the car has your back, so you can take in the scenery.
We had the car on COMFORT mode for the drive – a more comfort-oriented damper setting.
Start your journey with the M850i here.