For our visit to Crater Lake – we stayed at an OR State Park with the coolest name – Valley of the Rogue State Park. We were only there 2 nights – we wanted to drive up and see Crater Lake for the day and then move on. I mean, we would have loved to stay longer and hike in the park and see more of the area, but most of the park is still closed. You’ll see why in a minute.
We had a fairly short drive day from Klamath and arrived at Valley of the Rogue by 1:30pm. I had booked us a pull-thru spot so set-up was very easy. Afterwards we did some grocery shopping in Grants Pass.
I had set the alarm for 8 on the day we wanted to head to Crater Lake. We are generally up by then, but just wanted to be sure we’d be up and able to get out at a reasonable hour, preferably by 10. It would be almost a 2 hour ride to the lake. The weather was perfect! Blue skies with just a few puffy white clouds!
As we drove up Rt 62, the temps went down and we started seeing snow along the sides of the road, just little bits at first, in areas where the sun doesn’t hit, then more and more, until the ground was completely covered and then got deeper and deeper. It’s amazing to me the difference altitude can have on weather conditions. I mean, it makes sense, but having grown up in the northeast, I hadn’t experienced that before.
The Visitor Centers and gift shop were open but the drive around the lake and trails were not, due to still having over 10 feet of snow covering them! We were able to climb the snow bank and see the lake – and what a beautiful sight it is!
We did watch the film they show in the visitor center, which explains how the lake was formed. This kind of stuff is not always of huge interest or importance to me, but this time it was very cool to learn. Evidently, the volcano originally used to be about 14,000 feet high, but 7,700 years ago, it blew it’s top. It blew it in such a way that the vents that were releasing the steam were in a nearly perfect circle. Then, as the magma was released, eventually the top of the mountain/volcano just fell into the void that was created by the empty magma chamber. The top of that now is known as Wizard Island. They showed a recreation of what it must have looked like on the film and its just amazing to think of that happening that way!
Afterwards, the lake filled by rain and melting snow, it has no outside rivers running into it, nor any rivers running out of it. It is not fed by a spring. It’s level stays balanced by the rain, snow melt and evaporation cycle only. Because of this the water is some of the cleanest and clearest in the world. The water is so blue – I’ve never seen anything like it. The water in the Caribbean is blue and green and beautiful, but Crater Lake is a more deep, rich blue. Speaking of deep, at its deepest point, it is nearly 2,000 feet! That’s deep!
We saw signs for Rogue Gorge on the way up to the lake. We wanted to stop, but didn’t know how long we would need at the lake, so we stopped on the way back. We were so glad we did!
The following day, after our awesome day at Crater Lake, we pulled out of Valley of the Rogue about 10am, with a short drive to Jessie M Honeyman Memorial State Park in front of us. It’s just south of the town of Florence, on the central OR coast. It was an uneventful and scenic ride. There wasn’t anyone at the ranger station, but our name and site number were posted and we quickly got parked and all set up.
Being from NJ, I am not used to saying “the coast”. I’m not sure if you will remember, but I talked a little bit about this last summer, in NJ we say “down the shore”. Just an interesting difference in lingo.
As we do in a new area, we checked the Internet for things to do in a new area. We decided to check out Newport to see Sea Lions and there are plenty of lighthouses to see!
We visited Yaquina Bay Lighthouse in Newport. Interesting thing: there are 2 lighthouses in Newport. Why would there be 2 lighthouses in the same town one might ask. The reason is going to make it sound like the person or people in charge of where to put it were asleep at the wheel. After the first one was built, it was realized that it wasn’t as visible as needed when approaching from the north – so – they built another one – Yaquina Head. Isn’t that the craziest thing?
After touring the lighthouse, we found our way into Downtown Historic Newton. It is still basically a fishing village (maybe bigger than a “village”). There is a marina with a fishing fleet, there was actually a boat off-loading when we walked by. There are cute little shops and places to eat, but the most fun thing was the docks that were set up specifically for the sea lions! You can hear them “barking” as soon as you drive into town! We joined the others that were gathered at the rail to watch them! They are so big and loud and funny! We watched them for quite a while. I actually learned that I was mistaken in my last post – most of the pics I took/posted were California Sea Lions, not seals like I said. Sorry about that!
After watching for a while, we checked TripAdvisor for a place to get some food. There were so many to choose from, but we decided on Local Ocean Seafoods, which was right across from where we were and the #2 place in Newport with 4.5 stars! Bill had the fish and chips, which was made with Rockfish, and I had the crab roll, which was made with Dungeness Crab. Yummy!
On the way back to the truck, we stopped to watch the sea lions again – they make me smile!
On the way back to the CG, we stopped at a couple of the pull-out spots to look at the ocean and mountains. The coast is beautiful and very different from the views of the Atlantic, which is pretty flat, except maybe for Maine.
A mostly rainy day was spent doing chore-type things, one of the larger things being making reservations for our time in Denali! We will be staying in Trapper Creek, near Talkeetna for 2 nights, then 3 in Riley Creek (part of the National Park) and then a night near Palmer before getting back to Seward. Bill also got caught up on his budget spreadsheets – yes he has more than one! He also dropped me off to get some laundry done, and I met a guy from Wildwood, NJ! How cool is that?
Our final day in Florence, we went to check out another lighthouse, Heceta Head Lighthouse. What a beautiful location! The lighthouse itself isn’t open to the public, just the base (again, no climbing to the top!), but we got the “tour” by a volunteer, which could have been informative, but the gentleman didn’t really have his “spiel” together and he kept jumping from one subject to the next and then back, it was very hard to follow. In all fairness, it was the end of the day, maybe he was tired, who knows? There is a lighthouse keepers house, which is now being used in the summer months as a B&B. The views from the house are to die for!
We also spent some time that day at South Jetty County Park. We wanted to see some of the dunes in the area. There are huge areas of them right next to our campground, but Bill climbed them and he had a very hard time, as they were very steep, so he knew my knees weren’t going to make it. We turned onto South Jetty Road and went all the way to the end. The road was paved most of the way, but we kept going and it got very bumpy, so after Bill got to “exercise” the trucks 4WD, we parked and walked out to the water.
Our time in this area was short. There was lots more we could have seen and done. I feel like I’m saying that a lot lately, probably b/c I am. While we are both looking forward to all of our trip to AK, we are also both looking forward to just staying still for awhile. Just as we feel we are getting “settled” we are getting the tuck hitched up to hit the road again. At least I’ve been trying to only move short distances. I guess there is two ways of looking at it: 1) move more often, but have shorter drive days, or 2) move less often, but have longer drive days and/or more drive days in a row. I’m not sure I like either of those options very much, but this trip we decided to go with option 1. I think on the way back down from AK, we may go more with option 2. Guess we will see.
Today I will leave you with these cute little ducks, who decided to cross the road in front of us! Aren’t they adorable?
Next up is Vancouver – then on to Seattle! WOW!