Portland is the gateway to Oregon. In addition, driving directions throughout this book often use Portland as a reference point, assuming that the traveler will be flying into Portland and then driving to their destination.

By Plane

Portland International Airport (PDX) is Oregon's biggest and busiest airport and is served by most major national and many international airlines. For most people visiting Oregon, this should be the airport of choice. However, if you are heading to the central or southern Oregon coast, you might consider flying into either the Eugene Airport (EUG), which is served by Allegiant Air, Delta Connection, Horizon Air, and United Express. If you are headed to Bend or Sunriver, flying into Roberts Field/Redmond Municipal Airport (RDM) might work for you. This airport is served by Allegiant Air, Horizon Air, and SkyWest Airlines (United Express and Delta Airlines). If you are headed to Ashland for some Shakespeare, you could consider the Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport (MFR), which is served by Allegiant Air, Horizon Air, and Skywest Airlines (Delta Connection and United Express).

By Car

The distance to Portland from Seattle is 175 miles; from Spokane, 350 miles; from Vancouver, British Columbia, 285 miles; from San Francisco, 640 miles; and from Los Angeles, 1,015 miles.

If you're driving from California, I-5 runs up through the length of the state and continues north toward the Canadian border; it passes through the heart of Portland. If you're coming from the east, I-84 runs from Idaho and points east into Oregon, eventually ending in Portland.

Major rental-car companies with offices in Oregon include Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National, and Thrifty. All the major car-rental companies have offices in Portland at or near Portland International Airport.

Rates for rental cars vary considerably among companies and with the model you want to rent, the dates you rent, and your pickup and drop-off points. If you contact the same company three times and ask about renting the same model car, you may get three different quotes, depending on current availability of vehicles. It pays to shop early and ask lots of questions. At press time, weekly rates for a compact car in July (high-season rates) were running around $260 ($335 with taxes). Expect lower rates in the rainy months.

One of the most important benefits of belonging to the American Automobile Association (tel. 800/222-4357; www.aaa.com) is that they supply members with emergency road service. In Portland, AAA is located at 600 SW Market St. (tel. 800/452-1643 or 503/222-6734; www.aaaorid.com).

Be aware that few car-rental agencies rent to drivers under the age of 25. Enterprise and Hertz will both rent to younger drivers, but there is an additional daily charge. International visitors should note that insurance and taxes are almost never included in quoted rental car rates in the U.S. Be sure to ask your rental agency about additional fees for these. They can add a significant cost to your car rental.

By Train

Amtrak's (tel. 800/872-7245; www.amtrak.com) Coast Starlight train connects Portland with Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego, and stops at historic Union Station, 800 NW Sixth Ave. (tel. 503/273-4860), about 10 blocks from the heart of downtown Portland. Between Portland and Seattle there are both regular trains and modern European-style Talgo trains, which make the trip in 3 1/2 to 4 hours versus 4 1/2 hours for the regular train. On either type of train, one-way fares between Seattle and Portland are usually around $28. The Talgo train, called Cascades, runs between Eugene, Oregon, and Vancouver, British Columbia.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.