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Confession: I’m a sucker for bus tours. In fact, I was once called “The Concierge’s Dream” while on vacation. I earned this name after booking two tours in one day while on vacation in Hawaii. So, when I was invited by my colleagues at Travel Lane County to tag along on the inaugural run of the Oregon Skyway – Crater Lake National Park Scenic Bus Tour, I was thrilled.

The tour left from the Hult Center in Eugene – from there we went straight to Salt Creek Falls. Salt Creek Falls is Oregon’s second tallest waterfall (Multnomah Falls is the tallest). The falls are gorgeous, and the park has several viewing platforms for different vantage points – many of which are wheelchair accessible.

From Salt Creek Falls, we hopped back on the bus and headed  to Willamette Pass where we were handed box lunches and then sent to board the Gondolas. I’ll admit – I was a little bit scared to ride the gondola. But, once I saw the view on the way up, I was less focused on how high off the ground we were and more focused on all the beautiful landmarks I could see.

We ate our lunches high atop Eagle Peak, which sits at 6,666 feet! From our picnic tables, we could see Odell Lake, as well as the mountain biking trails that Willamette Pass offers in the summer.

After lunch, it was finally time to go to Crater Lake! The last time I visited Crater Lake was close to 20 years ago (EEK!), I remember thinking that the lake was pretty, but I was far too embarrassed at that time to be seen with my family, so I refused to enjoy myself. This time, sans my pre-teen attitude, I was ready to soak it all in.

I was amazed at the amount of snow still on the ground – in June! We were given some time to explore the lodge and relax in the giant rocking chairs on the lodge’s patio. After about an hour, it was time to head back home, but I was glad to discover Crater Lake again as an adult! On the way back into Eugene, we stopped at Shelter Cove Resort to stretch our legs and as if they had been cued, two eagles swooped down from the sky to grab a fish from the lake. It was the perfect ending to a fantastic day.

The Oregon Skyway – Crater Lake Scenic Bus Tour runs each Friday through the end of August. For more information, visit http://www.willamettepass.com/

About the Author: Rhiannon West Chamberlain

Rhiannon is a native Oregonian who grew up exploring the nooks and crannies of the Oregon Coast and daydreaming in Powell’s City of Books. She now lives in NE Portland with her husband and her new baby boy and looks forward to teaching him to love Oregon as much as she does. Rhiannon attended both the University of Oregon and Portland State University, where she studied Journalism and Mass Media. She claims to ‘bleed green’ and happily cheers for both the Ducks and the Vikings every chance she gets. In her free time, Rhiannon enjoys sipping Oregon Pinot, finding new restaurants, bargain hunting and trying new recipes – sometimes successfully. She has a child-like enthusiasm for trying new things and rediscovering old ones – such as skee-ball, mini golf, and big slides.

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These maps and directions are for planning purposes only. You may find that construction projects, traffic, or other events may cause road conditions to differ from the map results. For travel options, weather and road conditions, visit tripcheck.com, call 511 (in Oregon only), 800.977.6368 or 503.588.2941.

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  1. Jennifer says…

    You can ride the Oregon Skyway gondolas on Saturdays and Sundays. Hike or bike down. Or just play disc golf. Or just take in the views.

    Written on July 22nd, 2009 / Flag this Comment
  2. David Knudson says…

    We were trying to make reservations on this tour for August 7th; however we received a “cancellation” notice. Do you know if they are still running the tours this summer?

    Looks like a great time.

    Written on July 29th, 2009 / Flag this Comment
  3. Mr Oregon Guy says…

    It took us more than a day to explore Crater Lake with our toddler, but we still had a great time.

    Here’s a YouTube video from our trip:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8lRv-jXgXA

    Written on May 7th, 2011 / Flag this Comment
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