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Trip Report Oregon trip report and RAVE for Crater Lake!!!

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So, we kind of planned a last minute trip to Oregon for a week and I did some lurking here before going, of course.
So even thought I hadn't made any posts before the trip I felt the need to write a trip report. We went July 11-19 during the "heatwave". We kept saying, "What heatwave??" Temps were spectacular, actually cold on the coast!

First I need to RAVE about CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK!!!!!!!!
I must confess that before I bought my guidebook, I don't think I had ever even heard of Crater Lake. But the guidebook highly recommended it, so I was interested. With just one week in Oregon (having never been there before) we didn't know if we'd be able to squeeze it in...we knew we wanted to spend at least a day or so in Portland, do the Columbia River Gorge, and see the southern coast. How would we also fit in Crater Lake?
Well, fortunatley for us, we are very ambitious travelers and we did manage to fit it in and I must say it was the highlight of the trip!! Not only that, but it was one of the most spectacular places I have ever seen on this earth!!! It now ranks up there with some of the most beautiful places we've ever seen (alongside the Grand Canyon, southern Utah, the Na Pali Coast in Kauai, Alaska, Iguazu Falls, New Zealand, the Amalfi Coast and Ireland).
It is like nothing we'd ever seen. The book tries to prepare you for the blue color of the water, but you will still be amazed at how blue it is, deep, sapphire blue, spectacularly blue!

Crater Lake National Park is kind of secluded in that it is a good 90 minute drive to any decent sized towns. But we easily saw it in one day, driving from Oakridge (north of Crater Lake).
We were there on July 15 and were told that the Rim Drive only opened the day BEFORE (because of snow)!! Keep this in mind if you plan a trip next summer. You can still get to the Lodge and a scenic viewpoint, but it's really all about the drive (33 miles around the whole crater with tons of viewpoints and a couple of little trails and some hikes).
We had planned on doing a hike up Mt. Scott, but the ranger told us that it had been reported the day before that there was ALOT of snow on it. We didn't feel fully prepared for that, so unfortunatley we decided to skip it. One other disappointment we had was the boat trip (or the fact that we didn't get to take it).
There is a 2 hour boatride on the lake that you need to buy tickets for FIRST thing in the morning. The ranger told me we could just get tickets when we got there (which is about 3/4 of the way around the rim). They run every hour til 4pm and we got there about 1pm and were told that there were completely sold out. But we did hike down to the the lake anyway...it's worth it just for the different perspective and a COOL dip if your up for it. Don't forget that after you walk DOWN to the lake, you have to walk back up...it's 1,000 feet, not hard if you're a hiker (took us about 15-20 minutes). We did notice some people having a hard time.

So, for time planning, we made all the stops on the drive, the detour out to "The Pinnacles" (not worth the extra 14 miles roundtrip in our opinion), the very short Sun Notch trail, the Cleetwood Trail (down to the lake) and spent LOTS of time taking pictures and we were back at the Lodge by about 4pm.
We wished we would've had more time, (we would've liked to do the hike to the Watchman), but we were spending the night near Medford and needed to get going.

If we did it again, we would definitely spend the night at the lodge so that we'd have more time for hikes and the boat. The location of the lodge is spectacular! They have a porch with lots of rocking chairs and I could just sit there for HOURS and stare at that magnificent view!!
I can't say enough about this beautiful place...if you're thinking about going....GO, JUST GO!

As for the rest of our trip, we spent one rainy day at the beginning of the trip in Portland, and then got one sunny day back in Portland at the end of the trip.

Portland was a great city! We did:
International Rose Test Garden (free) - very nice with great views
Japanese Garden ($8) - VERY pretty, one of the nicest we've seen
Powell's Books - cool, HUGE bookstore, we especially loved the Rare Books room (you can hold a book from the 1600's)!
Pittock Mansion - we didn't go inside, but the grounds are free to the public and have the best view of the city and Mt. Hood!
Downtown - we did a nice walking tour from a map that we got for free at Powell's
Pearl District - great, hip area with lots of cool shops, bars and restaurants
West Hills - it was fun just driving around the streets to see lots of beautiful homes and great views
Council Crest - a nice park in the West Hills with another great view
Columbia Sportswear Factory Outlet on Tacoma St. just on the east side of the river- great for rainy day:)
For great Mexican food, Mazatlan's on Burnside

Next, we did the Columbia River Gorge.
Started out around 8am and got to Hood River by 3pm
We did the Angel's Rest Hike (5 miles roundtrip) near Bridal Veil. It was a great hike with rewarding views!
We stopped at all the waterfalls along the way and this was an enjoyable day, but the scenery was not as impressive as I expected.

Next we drove to Government Camp on the south side of Mt Hood, with a stop at the Timberline Lodge first for a great up close look at Mt Hood! Then we did the hike out to Mirror Lake (highly recommended for a nice, approx. 1 hour roundtrip). This trailhead is just west of Gov't Camp Loop Road on Hwy 26 (there is no sign, but it's on the south side of the road, there was a notice board for parking).

Then we headed south on a scenic drive along Hwy 242 with a stop at Proxy Falls (beautiful!) and McKenzie Pass.
At Mcknzie Pass there is a neat observatory, made from lava, with great views to the "Three Sisters", Mts. Washington & Jefferson and a neat trail through the lava fields, all very nicely narrated with signs. This was one of the best places to get a sweeping panarama of the Cascades!

We spent the night in a tiny town called Oakridge before heading to Crater Lake the next day....which I could go on and on about, but I guess I kinda already have;)

After Crater Lake, we spent the night in Central Point (near Medford) and had great Mexican food (again:) ) at Mazatlan's (not the same one as in Portland)

The next day we drove south into California on Hwy 199 to Brookings, but stopped along the way at Redwoods National Park to catch a quick glimpse of some of the giant trees. Right on the highway you drive thru Jedediah Smith State Park and there is a loop trail we did that was right off the main road. It was called the Simpson Reed Trail and it was a nice 1.25 mile loop trail thru some huge tall trees!

We continued on up the coast and spent the entire day sightseeing and spent the night in Bandon. There are so many great viewpoints to stop and get a great view and, of course, there are tons of trails to walk.
We're not "beach" people, so we were doing this drive for the scenery and hikes, not for beaches.
Bandon was a nice little town where we caught a beautiful sunset. Coquille Point and Face Rock were really pretty.

The next day was a LONG day driving further north up the coast, eventually making it all the way back to Portland that night!
We enjoyed Simpson Reef Viewpoint at Cape Arago State park to see tons of seals, and sea lions. We stopped at some of the viewpoints for the dunes, but didn't do any of those trails.
We stopped for lunch in the cute town of Florence! Lots of shops and restaurants...cute!
Then near the town of Yachats we went to the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area...and it is scenic! The Cape reaches a height of 800 feet and affords great views back down the southern coast. You can drive up to the top or you can take a lovely hike which we did...I think it's just over a mile up, but was nice and worth it!

We continued on straight thru to Portland for the last leg of the trip.

So, this was a very fast paced trip! 1300 miles in 7 days, never staying more than one night in any place. But we wanted to try to see as much as we could, and I think we did;)

If you'd like to see our photos, visit:

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