We know you all like a cliff hanger and the wait for this next post has been killing you. So in the interest of relieving your suspense, here’s what we did on Day 4 of our journey to the Oregon coast. And a new experiment for our blogs, a short video.
We decided to take an intermission from the road trip and take a journey of a different kind. Since we were so close (120 miles) we thought it would be a great opportunity to visit Crater Lake National Park. For those of you unfamiliar with Crater Lake, it’s the deepest lake in the USA and has no inlet or outlet. It is only fed by rain and more importantly snow, lots and lot of snow, up to 54 feet a year! It formed as the result of a violent volcanic eruption which triggered the collapse of a tall peak. We were somewhat indecisive on whether to trek that far, as the smoke from the California and Oregon fires was very bad and the park website webcams showed lots of obscuration. Countered with, we had always wanted to see it and we needed a break. A “fun fact” – Craig first learned of Crater Lake when he was in Navigator School at Mather AFB in Sacramento, California. With its well defined island in the middle, it was one of the main places we learned to read and navigate with radar.
So off on an anticipated smoke-filled adventure we went. There are two routes to the lake from I-5 and we decided to take the north route from Roseburg, Oregon along Highway 138, the Rogue-Umpqua National Scenic Byway. We drove the North Umpqua and High Cascades sections on our way to the north entrance of Crater lake.
Our first stop was at Colliding Rivers in the town of Glide. Two rivers both flow into each other and create a head-on rush of water. The water levels were low but the view was spectacular.
We were anxious about the impact on visibility from the smoke, but as it turned out, the forest was a great filter and the smoke had little to no impact. Our next stop along the route was Mott Bridge, a 1935 Civilian Conservation Corps project. It was actually built to help train the workers before they went to other areas.
The Umpqua Rocks area was a unique set of eroded remains of volcanos that now look like spires, pillars and monoliths.
It started getting late in the morning and we had already been on the road for three hours, you know Jennifer who always wants to see what is around the next bend, and we still had 30 more miles of mountain road driving to get to Crater Lake. So we decided to skip some of the other sites on the scenic byway and drive straight to Crater Lake, we decided we could see the ones we missed on the way back if we had time.
On our arrival at Crater Lake and the first view point we were both pleased and disappointed, somewhat. The smoke was pretty bad, but you could see the lake and Wizard Island and you could kind of see across to the other side, but the smoke completely obstructed any view beyond the rim and it also hid the deep vibrant blue of the water. Like I said, could be better, but could also have been much worse. The day prior you could not see the other side.
We always enjoy visiting and looking at the lodges in the national parks. They are always so unique and interesting. Even here at Crater Lake, the lodge was very cool and the view from its deck was outstanding, as is the case at all the lodges. Sometimes the views from the lodge are the best in the park!
After a picnic lunch at a peaceful and serene spot in the lodge area picnic ground, we decided we had better start heading home before it got too late. On our return trip we stopped back at the same viewpoint we started from and the smoke seemed to have dissipated somewhat. All in all, we declared victory on seeing Crater Lake and added yet another National Park to our list.
As the way back was the same way we came, Jennifer said, “Let’s stop at a couple spots we missed”. That was a surprise to me. Haha! There are quite a few waterfalls in this area and many are easily accessible from roadside parking areas. Since our old dog, Maggie, got to go on the trip, we did not visit any that required much of a hike, but we did visit a couple where she was able to get in the water and have a cold drink.
All in all it was a great trip. 10+ hours, but we saw a lot. The smoke did not deter us as much as we thought it might, and the scenic byway was a very beautiful and enjoyable surprise for us.
Next up; Lighthouses and Beaches.