We headed down the 101 into Oregon gazing at the stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. Oregon’s Pacific Coast is simply stunning with its towering vistas and crashing waves. We cruised down the 101 taking in the charming seaside towns and craving clam chowder an absolute must eat on the Pacific Coast. I can count on one hand the number of times we have dined out since starting our journey in July, and two of the times were bowls of creamy delicious fresh made clam chowder on the Oregon Coast. We couldn’t resist. Besides clam chowder another thing we loved about Oregon was the full service gas stations. It is illegal to pump your own gas in Oregon so there are attendants that pump it for you and clean your windshield…Amazing! There were also lots of quaint farms with people selling bouquets of beautiful flowers at roadside stalls. They make good cheese in Oregon! We had been eating Tillamook Cheese from the store and we actually drove through Tillamook at one point and we passed a field full of black and white cows and a big billboard from Tillamook Cheese Company saying “Meet our Cheese Makers,” so cute!
Our first stop was at Nehalem Bay State Park, right on the beach. It was still raining, we weren’t far enough from Washington yet I guess, so we threw on our rain coats and climbed over the sand dunes to the beach to admire the views. Even in the rain it felt good just to watch the waves crash and smell the salty air. We spent one night here and then headed all the way down the coast to the Oregon Dunes for Labor Day Weekend. The dunes were a sight to see and a mecca for ATV’s and Dune Buggy’s. We stayed at Bluebill Campground and enjoyed a short bike ride to the beach everyday. There were dune buggy’s everywhere and we couldn’t help but burst into a rendition of the President’s of the United States song “Dune Buggy” several times a day.
When we were cruising down the 101 to the Dunes we came across a beautiful area on the coast called Cape Perpetua and decided to head back up there after Labor Day for a few more days on the coast. We stayed at Carl Washburn State Park, it became a favorite of mine. From the campground you could walk through a forest that’s floor was thick with green moss. If you’ve ever been to Graceland, picture Elvis’ Jungle Room! The forest trail turned into a tunnel of vegitaton and then the beach! We watched crab after crab wash up on the shore as the seabirds swooped in to enjoy a delicious seafood fare. We saw the most beautiful sunsets here! The beaches along the coast here are mostly state or national parks so they are unspoiled by hotels. From this location we visited Hecta Head Lighthouse and did some hiking at Cape Perpetua. The pictures don’t do this place justice. The rock formations and crashing waves really show the power of the ocean. We drove from scenic spot to scenic spot one more beautiful than the next. Devil’s Churn was especially beautiful and it was cool to see surfers braving the cold waves at Newport Beach.
It was hard to say good-bye to the coast but we had to head to a place I’ve been dying to see-Crater Lake! Crater Lake is an amazing spot that shows how volcanic activity can shape a landscape. The water in this lake is said to be some of the purest in the world and you can see deeper into the water here then in most other bodies of water. Light reaches down 460 feet it’s so clear. It is one of the deepest lakes in America at 1900 feet. The water is an intense blue and the air is so clear and pure here you can see for 100 miles in any direction. The surrounding mountain views are just as beautiful as the lake. We took a hike up to Watchman’s Tower, a fire spotting tower they still use today to get a view of Wizard Island from above. During the summer tourists can take a boat ride tour to the Island and hike there, the boat tours were already stopped for the year during our visit and we were pretty disappointed, but there was so much other cool stuff to see we got over it pretty quickly. We took a bike ride on Grayback Road, a gravel road closed to motor vehicles. It was quite a climb but really fun to cruise back down! We also hiked to a place called the Pinnacles. The pinnacles are fossil fumaroles that were created when lava flow covered the riverbed in the Sand Creek Canyon, steam and gases were released from hot rocks underneath sheets of cooling volcanic pumice. These towering spires look delicate but are actually really solid. They made interesting shapes and some were together in groups or villages remind me of a Harry Potterish landscape. Very cool! We also hiked to Pinnacle Falls, then went back to an overlook at the lake and spent an evening watching the sunset with a couple tall, cold Oregon brews.
While at Crater Lake we stayed at Farewell Bend Campground about 20 minutes outside the park along the Rogue River in the Siskiyou-Rogue National Forest. We had the best spot at the campground! Our spot had its own private beach area right along the river. We set up our chairs on the shore and even got out the telescope one night for star viewing. The river was so clear and inviting I wanted to jump in but after dipping a toe I realized it was super cold! The average temperature of the Rogue is 44 degrees. Burr! From our campground we could take a short hike to the Rogue River Gorge and see the power of the water moving through the gorge. I recommend staying here if you visit Crater Lake.
Our final stop in Oregon was at Prineville State Park. A different side of Oregon, we were now in the high desert. A beautiful landscape but so different from the west side of Oregon, we had to watch for Rattlesnakes here. Luckily we didn’t run into any. This was a convenience stop on our way to Idaho because of its proximity to the town of Prineville for groceries and laundry. It was a really nice campground though on the Prineville reservoir with the best shower I have had so far on this trip! Tons of water pressure and hot water and a private room. We have taken some interesting showers during our travels. That could be a whole other blog post on its own.
So we zigged across the Northwest and now we are zagging across into Idaho. More adventures coming soon!