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It’s personal in Eugene, Oregon

Courtesy Travel Lane County

I got to experience one of the great natural wonders of the Oregon Coast last fall when I attended a tourism conference in Eugene.

My colleague Kelly Tyner and I arrived on a late flight into Eugene on the night before the conference began. Since there weren’t any scheduled activities until late afternoon of the opening day, we took advantage of some free time to drive through the woods of western Oregon to the Pacific coast, where we found an adventure at Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.

The dunes extend about 40 miles along the Oregon coast and reach heights of 500 feet above sea level in some places. Wind-swept sand extends as far as the eye can see in many directions. To look out at the dunes, you would think that you were in the middle of a desert, instead of the lush ecosystem of the Pacific Northwest.

This vast expanse of dunes makes the perfect setting for an adventure, and Kelly and I chose to take a ride on a “sand rail,” a dune buggy that zips across the sand at high speeds. Our driver whipped us in all directions, careening around corners and up and down massive dunes. From time to time, we stopped to talk about the ecosystem and take pictures of the scenery.

By the end of the ride, we were covered in sand and had giant smiles plastered on our faces.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.