Day 5: Bandon to Crater Lake
(Driving time: 288 miles/6 hours)
This day will be your longest yet in the car, but you’ll check two Wonders off your list as you hit the final bit of the Coast and visit Crater Lake. Linger in Bandon for breakfast and a bit of shopping in Historic Old Town, including Coastal Mist chocolate shop, offering an array of delectable handcrafted confections and desserts, as well as drinking chocolates and drinking caramels.
At Port Orford Heads State Park, hiking trails along the bluff take you to views of migrating whales, seabirds and local fishing boats. Visit the free museum housed in the 1930s Port Orford Lifeboat Station here.
Continue on to the town of Gold Beach, visit the mouth of the Rogue River as it enters the ocean, and take a stroll at South Beach and Buena Vista state parks.
South of the town of Brookings and inland is where you’ll find the Oregon Redwoods Trail, which winds through a grove of majestic, towering redwoods, the only coastal redwoods found in the Pacific Northwest.
Say goodbye to the Coast as you head farther inland toward the Oregon Caves National Monument & Preserve and take a tour of these unique marble caves formed over the ages by dripping rainwater. (Note: Tours are given on a first-come, first-served basis, and self-guided tours are not allowed.)
Head into the town of Medford for a taste of Oregon craft beer, a bite to eat or a live performance at the Craterian Theater at the Collier Center for the Performing Arts.
Then you’ll be on your way to Crater Lake, where the 33-mile drive around the rim offers various viewpoints of the gorgeous crystal-blue waters of the caldera lake and the cinder cone in the center, called Wizard Island.