Crater Lake Zipline
When you travel to Klamath County in Southern Oregon, there are three words you must remember: just let go! If you do, you will leave all your troubles behind.
Perhaps at Crater Lake National Park, where many begin their visit at the timber and stone Crater Lake Lodge. Visitors will grab a bite, relax and unwind and take in the gorgeous scenery that’s 2,000 feet below.
Still others prefer the nearby Klamath Canoe Trail and a wildlife refuge that offers wildlife surprises at each turn of the trail. And many people prefer to head stream-side with a fly rod along the Klamath River where red band rainbows are on the bite.
Visitors to the southern end of Oregon who pull in to the Running Y Ranch will discover a unique mix of residential development as well as fine hotel accommodations that spread across thousands of acres with stunning views to Upper Klamath Lake.
The hotel rooms are generously-sized and comfortable for a weekend stay, according to hotel manager and Running Y Ranch resident George Lusk. “A room comes with a king sized bed and a view to either the golf course or our small village, but really you are looking at foothills, pine trees and beautiful aspens across thousands of acres.”
The Running Y Ranch is located eight miles from Klamath Falls and the locals like to boast it is the “Sunshine City” of Oregon; it offers more than 300 days of sunny skies a year! The ranch is a fine basecamp for all sorts of outdoor recreation, especially golf on the only Arnold Palmer-designed golf course in the state.
Lusk added that the Running Y also boasts miles of hiking trails, canoe paddling and wildlife watching. “Just a beautiful place to walk! It’s about two and a half miles of a nature walk right along the shore of Klamath Lake. Starting in December we’ll have the eagles migrate here and stay through the winter – hundreds of eagles will arrive and it’s just unbelievable to see so many in one place.”
Other visitors are eager to visit the Running Y to sign up for something new: the chance to soar through the trees at the new Crater Lake Zipline. The experience opened in September of 2015 and all you need is a harness, a helmet and a spirit of adventure and you are smack in the middle of a forest canopy.
The new Crater Lake Zipline is the brainchild of Darren and Jennifer Roe, owners of Roe Outfitters, who had a vision of offering visitors something that’s a bit daring, a bit challenging and a whole lot of fun. “It’s the original eco-tour,” noted Darren Roe. “It’s the greenest thing out there and it’s just a lot of fun.”
Five years ago, Jen and Darren fell in love with ziplining while on vacation and they wondered: couldn’t they do something like it near their home in Klamath County? According to Jennifer, they searched the entire Oregon countryside for just the right property but discovered there’s no place like home. “A good friend of ours said, ‘Hey – did you ever consider Tomahawk Ski Bowl?’ And I said, ‘No, but let’s go take a look.’ ”
The Roes really liked what they saw of the community ski area that opened in the ’50s but then closed in the mid ’80s. They have spent that past two years turning the old ski site into their new zipline course, the longest in Oregon. There are nine routes that total a mile and a half and you are in the trees the entire time.
Darren said that the spacious views of the surrounding countryside really set Crater Lake Zipline apart. “I can’t get enough of it: we have views to the mountains, to Klamath Lake – plus we are in these amazing giant trees that just take your breath away.”
Jennifer quickly added, “You see Klamath Lake from just about every platform of the course and it is huge – some 30 miles long and it is the biggest natural lake west of the Mississippi River.”
As for the name “Crater Lake,” Jen noted that the new zipline course is just 30 minutes south of the entrance to the national park and offers high adventure that is a fine compliment to anyone’s visit to Crater Lake.
The zipping experience takes your breath away as you speed along cables and reach 30 miles per hour – in fact, two of the zips are more than 1,400-feet long. Darren said that zip lining also makes folks stronger. “We have watched people’s reactions and it is amazing how much the zipping experience empowers people. We are proud of that, especially if it helps people overcome fears of heights or of trying something new.”
Jennifer added, “Our guests will come off of the three-hour long course experience sporting mile-wide smiles and they will say, ‘It was so much better than I expected – I feel more confident because I faced a fear and overcame it.’ That’s when I say, ‘Yay, we built it and now people love it.’ I am proud of our efforts.”
You will love it too! The Crater Lake Zipline is open year-round.
about author Grant McOmie
Grant McOmie is a Pacific Northwest broadcast journalist, teacher and author who writes and produces stories and special programs about the people, places, outdoor activities and environmental issues of the Pacific Northwest. A fifth generation Oregon native, Grant’s roots run deepest in the central Oregon region near Prineville and Redmond where his family continues to live.
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