East of the Cascades on the southern tip of Upper Klamath Lake, Klamath Falls is very much off the beaten path. You’ll find fewer crowds, 300 days of sunshine and a diverse landscape. And while Klamath Falls may be best known for its proximity to Crater Lake National Park and the spectacular Sky Lakes Wilderness, there are plenty of reasons to make your basecamp downtown. Here’s a guide to some of Klamath Falls’ active urban adventures, arts, culture and dining hot spots.
Pedal a Former Railbed and See Live Music in the Park
With 600 acres of parks and green space within the city limits, Klamath Falls offers adventure at nearly every turn. At the south end of Upper Klamath Lake, Moore Park has a network of walking trails, as well as disc golf, tennis and pickleball courts. Climb the 1-mile nature loop through juniper and ponderosa for lake views and a little bird-watching. Cyclists of all levels can practice jumps and cornering on the park’s new mountain bike skills trail.
A 7-mile paved segment of the OC&E Woods Line State Trail, accessed just south of downtown, is a flat and easy family cycle. Or you can explore the 31 miles of graveled section from Olene to Sprague River. Check out Zach’s Bikes for rentals and directions. (At 100 miles, the full trail is Oregon’s longest linear park.) The former railbed weaves through neighborhoods before rolling into rural farmland. Interpretive signs mark historic spots along the way, and there are views of Mt. Shasta toward the end of the pavement. Picnic at Wiard Park, then hit the playground and seasonal splash pad.
Wiggly little ones will love Eulalona Park, located just northeast of downtown, with its all-ages mini zip line, obstacle course and climbing wall. There is also a fenced dog park. Or kick back on the grass at Klamath Commons Park downtown, where live music and food vendors converge during summer Third Thursday events.
Learn About The Klamath Tribes and See Public Art
If you’re driving an electric vehicle, plug in at one of the downtown charging stations before embarking on a self-guided walking tour of the historic center to get oriented. Look for art deco, Gothic revival and classical revival buildings that date from the early 20th century. Check out the mural trail depicting historical events, or snap a selfie with one of the contemporary murals.
Next delve deeper into local history with a visit to one or both of the museums bookending downtown. At the Favell Museum, learn about The Klamath Tribes, consisting of the Klamath, Modoc and Paiute Yahooskin, along with other tribal communities of the Northwest and beyond. Displays feature artifacts, ancient stone tools, regalia, beadwork, basketry and more. The museum also exhibits original paintings by many well-known Western artists. Klamath County Museum displays artifacts and stories relating to the region’s early life. In 2023 the museum will debut a special exhibition marking 150 years since the Modoc Indian War, a tragic conflict that took place in the 1870s.
Located on the Pacific Flyway, Klamath County is a hotspot for birding. It’s home to more than 350 species, including the largest wintering concentration of bald eagles in the lower 48 states. If you’re new to birding, get to know some of the local species with a tour of murals painted on downtown utility boxes, including the great egret, great horned owl, California quail, ring-necked pheasant and pileated woodpecker.
Many evenings you can also take in a play, live music, dance or comedy show at the Ross Ragland Theater, a busy performing-arts center housed in a beautifully restored 800-seat art deco theater. Fun fact: The Ragland is the first and only performing-arts center in the U.S. with both geothermal heating and solar power. It’s not the only geothermally heated space in Klamath Falls; many sidewalks and crosswalks downtown use geothermal heat to melt snow and ice during the winter.
Take advantage of tax-free shopping (as with all of Oregon) at Keeper’s Corner antique mall, with more than 120 vendors. Bookworms will relish browsing Basin Book Trader or Canvasback Books. See work by local artists at the Klamath Art Association gallery, and visit the gift shop to purchase jewelry, pottery or other handcrafted items by local makers. You can also stop by the Discover Klamath Visitor’s Center in downtown for information, maps, and up-to-date details about concerts and events as well as recommendations from locals.
Nosh on Pizza and Fresh Cinnamon Rolls
Pizza, creativity and community are the cornerstones of Rodeos Pizza & Saladeria where scratch-made dough is topped with quality ingredients. Try the tomapeño pizza, laden with tomatillos, green chilies, jalapeños, blue agave and cumin. Craft beer, wine and kombucha are also on tap.
Or enjoy scratch-made authentic Thai cuisine at Thai Orchid, a family-owned business serving Klamath Falls for 20 years. Waffle Hut is another local institution, beloved for its burgers and yeasted Liège waffles with a caramelized-sugar coating. A Leap of Taste is a cozy cafe with a unique mission of mentoring young adults with on-the-job training. You’ll find coffee and espresso drinks as well as sandwiches, salads and soups, including vegan and gluten-free options.
Satisfy your sweet tooth at Green Blade Bakery, where fresh-baked cinnamon rolls, scones, sweet and savory turnovers, muffins, and bread fill the air with delicious aromas. Grab a treat for the ride home or kick back and enjoy it on the outdoor patio, bathed in one of Klamath Falls’ many sunny days.