Outdoor Adventure Search Results
I want to propose to my girlfriend during our 6 days camping around Oregon — where should I pop the question?
First of all, congratulations! When I opened this email, I got goosebumps and butterflies and my heart started racing and I immediately had a million ideas in my mind of where you should go.
But first. I’m going to give you my top 5 favorite places in each of those three locations. And then I’m going to give you a list of wineries to look at, too.
Here is an ambitious itinerary that is also doable without feeling like you’re constantly on the go:
Day 1: Crater Lake
Campground: Lost Creek Campground
You can stay here without feeling like you’re in a box of sardines. It’s my favorite campsite in the area and doesn’t have a lot of people. Also, the Pacific Crest Trail is accessible here and you can take a short walk/hike to the Pinnacles in the area. It’s not far from the rim of the lake, but it’s not overlooking the lake. It’s also a first-come, first-serve campground, so if you can snag a spot, this would be an ideal place to pop the question.
Another option for a campsite would be Diamond Lake. It’s just 12 miles north of the rim and there are significantly LESS people there. So after a day of exploring Crater Lake it might be nice to settle down near another ridiculously beautiful lake with an epic view of Mt. Thielsen.
One thing to keep in mind: Sometimes the rim road is closed to cars and only accessible by bike. Keep that in mind and maybe double check the weekend you’re planning on coming out.
Day 2: Hot Springs
A must-see attraction is the Umpqua Hot Springs. You’ve gotta do it.
You can still get your hike to Tokatee Falls in, and you should, because it’s awesome. But make sure you spare an hour or two to check out these natural hot springs! This wouldn’t be the worst place to propose.
Day 3: Bend
I love Bend. Everyone loves Bend. It’s true. You’ll love it, too, I promise.
By then, a shower and fireplace will probably be welcomed and there’s also so much more to do there! If you haven’t proposed yet, check out Tumalo Falls, it might be what you’re looking for. Crux Fermentation Project, McMenimans, and Rogue Brewery are all really great places to celebrate as well. Honestly, Bend has more beer than anywhere else you’ll ever go in your life. Except maybe Germany. But that’s up for debate. You could rent bikes and ride along the Deschutes River Trail or go for a run along it. You could also hike Pilot Butte, take a scenic drive along the Cascade Lakes Scenic byway (it’ll drop your jaw), there are lava lands outside of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, Mt. Bachelor is pretty incredible, too.
Day 4: Smith Rock
Mmmm, Smith Rock. One of my all-time favorite places.
So, you can’t actually ‘hike’ Monkey Face. But you CAN see it from the hike called ‘Misery Ridge.’ It’s not that bad of a hike. I was able to do it two weeks after having ACL surgery last spring. This hike offers the best views, the best elevation gain and the best bang for your buck in the area if you’re going to hike. You get to experience everything Smith Rock has to offer.
If you decide that you want to climb, I’d suggest Five Gallon Buckets. It’s a popular route but it’s easy and is the best route for gym-climbers to get comfortable climbing outside. If you want to climb Monkey Face, I’d suggest getting here early an expecting a bit of a wait before roping in for this multi-pitch. It takes awhile, but it’s worth it.
If you’re looking for campsites in this area, there’s the climber’s bivvy. But it might be filled with loud climbers scrounging for leftovers. Skulls Hollow is another site that’s not too far from Smith Rock but I would highly, highly recommend camping at Haystack Reservoir. If you can get a spot by the water, you get an excellent view of Mt. Jefferson and sometimes, when the sky is clear enough, the stars reflect onto the water and it is the most amazing thing.
Day 5: Hood River
Alright, Hood River is cool. I wish I could tell you it was worth skipping but if you did skip it, I’d be offended I think. And I think you’d regret it. On your way from Bend to Hood River, there’s a hike called Tamanawas Falls. The pull-off is on the left-hand side of the road. It’s four miles round trip and is easy, fun and the payoff is totally worth it. When you’re done doing that… there’s an awesome little coffee shop in Hood River called Doppio’s. There are sandwiches, soup and some of the best coffee, ever.
If you’re still thinking about mountain biking, check out Discover Bicycles. They rent bikes for $60/day and give you helmets, maps, directions, etc. Everything you could ever need or hope for. Check out Surveyor’s Ridge for the mountain bike ride. It’s relatively easy and follows a ribbon of single track through the trees, down valleys and opens up to incredible views of both Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams.
But if you don’t want to mountain bike… take a drive along the Fruit Loop! Depending on the time of year, there are U-pick flower fields, u-pick fruit and vegetable fields and (!) wineries. Mt. Hood Winery is a great place to stop with a great view of the north side of Hood. You should be able to see Mt. Adams from here, as well.
At this point, you’ll probably be exhausted. You’ll probably be love drunk. And you’ll probably be looking for houses to rent or buy and planning on moving to Oregon.
But you should actually start driving toward Portland. Because you’re almost out of time. Get some more coffee.
You’re going to pass the Columbia River Gorge, on your left. Once you hit Cascade Locks, take the exit to get onto the Columbia Gorge Scenic Highway. This road will pull you past handfuls of waterfalls and lush, natural rainforest. There will be plenty of places to pull over, get out, hike up to and take a ton of pictures in front of some really awesome falls. My favorite is Elowah Falls. It’s a short hike in, but whoah. It’s worth it.
Multnomah Falls is by far the busiest area of the Gorge, but once you see it, you’ll know why. (It’s also the waterfall from Twilight, just a heads up). This waterfall comes with it’s own parking area and lodge. There are a handful of other falls to see along the way, too, so save your neck muscles and don’t spend too much time looking up.
I’d suggest staying somewhere in Portland this night. Especially if you’re going to fly back the next day. But if not, take your time! There are plenty of places to see and things to do and you might want to try stopping at every waterfall. Who knows?!
I hope you guys have the best trip. I’m so excited for you!
4-5 days in Oregon might not be enough for your mountain-seeking soul, but we’ll work with what we’ve got. From Portland, your options are endless. If you just want to see a mountain, you can hike up to Pittock Mansion through Forest Park and you’ll be able to see Mt. St. Helens, the tip of Mt. Adams, and a very prominent Mt. Hood.
But if you want to get closer, you can drive a short 45-minutes toward Mt. Hood on Highway 35. My favorite hikes with breathtaking views of Mt. Hood include:
If it’s alpine lakes and waterfalls you’re interested in finding, here are my favorites:
…and that’s just the Mt. Hood side.
If you wanted to take a day hike through the Columbia River Gorge (45 minutes from downtown Portland), I’d recommend:
If you have any questions about any of these, I’m happy to help.
I hope you have the best trip to Oregon!
Thanks a lot,
I love kayaking — and it’s a great vacation idea! Here are a few spots in that area you might try:
You can rent equipment from several places:
|Outdoor Adventure, Willamette Valley|
I actually grew up in South Dakota so I definitely want you to have an amazing time. And I am absolutely sure you will!
Highway 101 down the Coast is an amazing drive. I’d highly, highly recommend this over taking I-5 South. There are tide pools, the Goonies House, crabbing, local surf spots, delicious seafood shacks, more tide pools, rocky beaches and caves… ahh. You should definitely check out the coast. It’s unlike the sandy beaches of California and is a lot more “wild.”
My favorite coastal spots are:
If you’re heading toward Portland, I recommend:
|Coast, Outdoor Adventure, Portland|
Ten days is the perfect amount of time to have the greatest vacation, ever.
If you’re starting in Portland, I’d recommend taking a day to check out the city. It sounds like you and I like all of the same things, so I’m going to give you a hot and fast list of what I would do.
Day 1: Portland
Day 2-3: Skydiving, then the Oregon Coast
Day 4: More Coast
Just under two hours driving, if you head south on the 101 toward Florence, you’ll find plenty, and I mean PLENTY, of things to keep you occupied. From lighthouses to more paragliding outfitters and surf shops, to Cape Perpetua and the Hobbit Trail to Seal Rock and the Newport Historic Bay District, this drive won’t disappoint. I’d recommend finding a crab shack somewhere along the way to feast more than just your eyes. Yum!
One of my favorite places to camp on the Coast is Honeyman State Park just South of Florence, OR.
Day 5: Southern Oregon
Get some coffee. You might need it by now.
From Florence, I’d head South down the Coast toward Reedsport and then start heading SE toward Roseburg. This little town (Roseburg) is adorable. It’s a great place to check out and a good place to stop for lunch before you continue heading East toward Crater Lake National Park. You’ll drive through Umpqua National Park to get there, which is phenomenal in itself, but also has one of the most beautiful hot springs in the entire state (in my opinion), the Umpqua Hot Springs. From here, you can head south toward Crater Lake, passing Mt. Thielsen and Diamond Lake.
…Honestly, I’d probably check out Diamond Lake first. And, if you’re feeling salty, the hike to the top of Thielsen isn’t bad. It’s long but even if you don’t make it to the top, the views are unbeatable and the air is crisp enough to get you recharged from all the driving.
Day 6: Crater Lake National Park
Okay. This place. Woofta. It’s hard for me to explain in words just how amazing this place is. I actually started crying the first time I saw it. I don’t know why. I don’t know how. I just don’t know. It was beautiful. It was insanely blue. It was huge. And now I tell everyone I can to go visit it and explore the trails and fire lookouts and cliff jumping and camping this place has to offer because I think it seriously changed me. I think I’m going back this weekend.
Day 7: Maybe stay in Crater Lake another night?
Day 8: Drive North toward Bend.
Alright, next up, Beertopia, USA. aka Bend, Oregon. Just under a 2 hour drive from Crater Lake National Park and along a windy, emerald green tunnel through Umpqua National Forest, you’ll get to Bend and wonder why you’ve never been here before. You can also stop at the hot springs again if you want! Bend has everything from the Deschutes River running through the middle of town, to more micro breweries and beer than you’ll know what to do with. There’s also Mt. Bachelor, the Cascade Lakes and Smith Rock. If you’re into rock climbing or want an awesome day hike, head to Smith Rock State Park and head up the Misery Ridge trail. It’s about 4 miles round trip but gives you unbeatable views of the area with a handful of (yep, you guessed it) more volcanoes on the horizon.
Day 9: Columbia River Gorge OR Mt. Hood
This one’s up to you. I love them both and they’re both in the way of you getting back to Portland.
Day 10: WHOAH!
What a trip, huh? Sounds like you might be ready for a hot shower and your own bed.
First things first: Winter rules Crater Lake National Park. It can start closing seasonal roads in mid-October and last through June. An average year sees 44 feet of snow dropped on the park. Obviously 2015 hasn’t been an average year. So with that in mind, things can change dramatically but if I were to place a bet… I think it will be open. You might get cold. But the road should be open. Please review current conditions before your visit. Highway 62 and the road to Rim Village (Munson Valley Road) are plowed and open all year. However, snowy and icy road conditions can occur anytime, resulting in temporary road closures.
If you’re looking to camp, I’d recommend Mazama Campground and Lost Creek Campground. Both Campground loops and sites open as snow removal progresses. But keep in mind that snowmelt can last through June and while snow persists, mosquitoes may be numerous. And at Crater Lake… they’re pretty numerous. For more on the current weather at Crater Lake, click here.
As far as hiking trails go, this is where things get fun!
There is so much to see and there are so many trails to hike. Here are a few of the best hikes I’ve been on and my all-time favorite hikes near Crater Lake.
This hike is unlike anything else. To get started, check the park tour boat schedule and buy a ticket. You’ll begin your hike down the rim to Cleetwood Cove and then ride the boat to Wizard Island. When you get there, you’ll be invited to hike to the 6,940-foot top of the island… which will show you how it got its name. Afterwards, you’ll ride the boat back to Cleetwood Cove and hike the steepest part of the outing back to your car. Or you could stay, take in the sunset, swim in the clear, icy-blue water or have a picnic on the rocks.
Beginning from the west at Seven Lakes trailhead, head toward Devil’s Peak. Or, alternatively, head for the south part of the wilderness and hike the trail up Mount McLoughlin, Southern Oregon’s highest mountain.
The highest point inside the park is actually Oregon’s 10th highest mountain. Crazy, right? Fortunately, it’s a relatively easy five-mile round-trip hike that gets lots of use when accessible, which isn’t usually until July through early October.
Other hikes to include:
This is a really great question! I actually took a driving tour through this same area of Oregon at the end of October last fall. So, for starters, I’d say that time is one of the best to go. I don’t think you’d want to go any later than the middle of November (too cold!) and no sooner than August (too hot!).
If you start your road trip near Burns, you can drive through both Malheur and Mud Lakes (they’re not really lakes, more or less dried up lake beds). This area of Oregon is completely different from any other I’ve experienced but it was mesmerizing how big the sky was and how nice the people were. From there, you can continue southeast on the 205 through Frenchglen. I’d recommend staying at the Frenchglen Hotel. It’s a quaint hotel that was built in 1916 by a meat-packing company but now hosts five rooms for guests. Just across the road from the hotel is an awesome wildlife and bird viewing area. I walked around in there for about three hours and didn’t get bored once. Even in late October there were plenty of critters to see and there was a family of bald eagles nesting about 50 yards off the road. It was incredible! After leaving Frenchglen a fun option and short drive to the Pete French Round Barn is really cool. Otherwise, you can drive up to the top of Steens Mountain and look out at the Alvord Desert about 300 feet below you, stretching out for miles.
Other options would be to bypass the mountain road and take a dip in some of the local hot springs. Mickey Hot Springs and the Alvord Hot Springs were great and it only cost $5.00 to check them out and drop my toes in.
If you continue taking HWY 205 SE you’ll find yourself among one of the most jaw=dropping places in Oregon: the Alvord Desert. You can drive over and through it, you can camp in it, you can do just about anything you want to do there. It’s similar to the Salt Flats in Utah but way, way more intensely beautiful. And if you take the Fields-Dieno Road all the way back up to HWY 95 East, you’ll get to the Jordan Valley with some time to spare.
|Eastern Oregon, Outdoor Adventure|
I’m glad you brought this question up, because I was a little hesitant to bring my dog along with me to Bend last weekend. Fortunately, U.S. Forest Service regulations allow dogs, leashed or unleashed, on the south side of Century Drive, en route to Mt. Bachelor. I’d highly recommend Wanoga and Edison Sno-Parks.
There’s also a dog park on the far right side of the parking lot at Mt. Bachelor. I’m not sure if this is affiliated with either of the sno-parks, but there are plenty of dogs playing and running around in this area, so if you’re up for skiing at Bachelor, a lunch break at the dog park isn’t so bad.
Wanoga Sno-Park is great, too. And it’s probably the only groomed, dog-friendly sno-park in Oregon.
Edison Sno-Park sits in the shadow of Mt. Bachelor. The mountain acts as a pretty great wind block but the trails aren’t groomed. When the snow is good, I’d recommend this area, but when it’s icy it can get a little treacherous.
I came across this site for you to look at, too. In case you have any more questions, feel free to email me back and I can help you find some more dog-friendly activities.
|Outdoor Adventure, Snow Sports|
Another recommendation that is family and kid-friendly is Camp Dakota Adventures. They offer 6 different zip lines as well as a Challenge Course for you and your family to navigate your way through the tress, over barriers and between ropes.
If you have any more questions, I’m happy to help, so please let me know!
Thanks a lot,
Thanks for the question! There are some very easy-to-follow routes for waterfall lovers. I recommend you either order a free copy of the Oregon Scenic Byways magazine or view it online as it really outlines the routes with beautiful pictures. As far as the time of year, there will be more water at other times of the year (winter, spring) however in August there is still more than plenty of water for the waterfalls.
From North to South
I-84 and the Columbia River Gorge: This is the iconic waterfall route in Oregon that includes Multnomah Falls (the states tallest). The waterfalls in this area are breathtaking and also easy to access from the road. They tend to be more crowded given the proximity to Portland.
Silver Falls: Given the short distance of the Columbia River Gorge, I suggest visiting the falls and then backtracking. If you love farm land, make your way south through Mollala and Silverton to Silver Falls State Park. This might be one of the best places to visit for waterfalls and hiking. It’s just beautiful here.
Highway 126 – Florence to Sisters: Sweet Creek Falls is one of my favorite waterfall hikes is near Florence and the Oregon Coast. The numerous falls parallel the trail and in the summer months the water is warm enough to wade into. If you continue inland along Hwy 126 you pass Eugene and head into the McKenzie River Valley. About an hour and a half drive from Eugene, you will arrive at Sahalie and Koosah Falls, two beautiful falls that are along the McKenzie River National Recreation Trail. You can park at either waterfall and hike in a loop to see both.
Bend: Highway 126 east links up with Highway 20 which heads into Central Oregon and leads you towards Bend. There are some beautiful falls in Bend, including Tumalo Falls. From here you can head south along Highway 97 to Highway 138 west. Highway 138 offers access to the north entrance of Crater Lake (this entrance is only open in the summer months) and parallels the wild and scenic North Umpqua River. One of the highlights of the waterfalls on this route is Toketee Falls. There isn’t much of a hike to get to this waterfall, but there are other waterfalls along Highway 138 with some more hiking. If you want to hike here, I recommend seeing the falls and then cross the road to hike along the North Umpqua Trail (just watch out for poison oak, which is extremely thick in this area).
I hope this helps you plan a great trip. Let me know if I can offer any more suggestions.