UNDER CONSTRUCTION – 3RD WEEK OF OCTOBER
4-Day Tour: Crater Lake, Mt. Hood, & Willamette Valley
This adventure, taking in both sides of the Cascade Mountain Range, offers up a beautiful diversity of landscapes. Experience Pacific Northwest rainforest, rocky subalpine terrain, and expansive views from a high point of nearly 8,000’ in Crater Lake National Park. The Lake is the primary destination of your tour, but two of Oregon’s state parks – the austere cliffs of Smith Rock, and the rushing waters of Silver Falls – will also leave a lasting impression. Along the way, enjoy local cuisine, not to mention Oregon’s abundant fine wines and craft brews.
Travel Oregon’s Cascade volcanoes with us, focusing on the two most iconic: Mt. Hood and Mt. Mazama, better known as Crater Lake National Park. Explore the sub-alpine at historic Timberline Lodge and on Crater Lake’s Rim Drive, and check into two faces of the peaks: austere high desert to the east, and verdant rainforest to the west – not to mention a foray into the fine wines and agricultural bounty of the Willamette Valley.
We’ll be walking each day – tailoring distances and timing to you as we wander in and out of the Cascade Range. We’re happy to accommodate a wide range of desires and ability levels. At night, you’ll be in central Bend, OR – with access to downtown’s amenities including breweries, restaurants, shopping, and only 2 blocks from the banks of Mirror Pond.
Day One: Mt. Hood to Bend, Oregon
Timberline Lodge, Deschutes River, Warm Springs Canyon, & Bend, OR
Our first day on the road takes us into the Cascade Mountain Range, as we travel to Timberline Lodge at 6,000’ above sea level. Crisp, cold snow-melt tumbles over Umbrella Falls, and when the wind is flat beneath clear skies, the view from Trillium Lake is iconic.
Descending from the mountain, we follow the Deschutes River through Warm Springs Canyon, to the dizzying Crooked River Canyon Overlook, and discover an entirely new eco-region: Oregon’s High Desert. The air is hot and dry, and we adjust to the elevation at Smith Rock State Park along the blue and green ribbon that is the Crooked River, where millennia of volcanic ash compacted into the unique rock formations. The vertical faces inspired the founders of sport-climbing, the dominant form or rock-climbing today, and with any luck, we’ll see climbers scrambling up the rock this afternoon. Finally, we arrive in the urban oasis of Bend, OR with a population nearing 100,000 and among the most breweries per capita of any city in the United States. It’s a city for the young and the young-at-heart, expressed in the near-universal participation in outdoor pursuits from mountain biking to paragliding and everything in between. Dine tonight with your fellow travelers as they do in Bend – casual fare at one of the city’s many microbreweries.
Logistics: From Portland, we travel east to Mount Hood and into the High Desert. From our comfortable, big-windowed, high-roof van we’ll watch this new landscape spread out in front of us with its big skies and long vistas. We make stops today at Timberline Lodge, the Museum at Warm Springs, Crooked River Canyon, and Smith Rock State Park before arriving in Bend, where we’ll call the McMenamin’s St. Francis School, a former Catholic schoolhouse converted into a hotel complete with theater, restaurant, pub, and soaking pool, and our home for the next three nights.
Day Two: Crater Lake National Park
Today, the highest point in the National Park is the summit of Mt. Scott, at 8,929 feet above sea level, but the peak of Mt. Mazama was the highest in Oregon before its phenomenal eruption and implosion 7,700 years ago. It’s a singular destination, which is often summed up by your first words on reaching the crater rim: Wow.
Your guide will bring the National Park alive today, as you circumnavigate the Rim Drive, stopping at as many viewpoints as your camera lens can accommodate, and selecting appropriate walks and hikes. This could be the well-worn trail to Cleetwood Cove, the only place you can dip a hand in the water, to Mt. Scott, the Watchman Overlook, or the easy walks at Sun Notch and the Castle Creek Wildflower Trail. We’ll bring a picnic lunch with us today, and hope to enjoy it overlooking the pristine waters of the Lake. Travel time to the Park is significant, so we embrace it on this long day, using all the sunlight available, and allowing for some independent time at Crater Lake Lodge or the visitors center. On the return drive to Bend, we stop in to dine together at Sunriver Resort.
Logistics: Crater Lake is south of Bend approximately 1 hr and 45 minutes, so once in the Park, we get out of the van as frequently as possible! Park entrance is included, and Park Collectors will absolutely have the chance to stamp their National Park Passport book. There are very few amenities along the way, so we bring along our picnic lunch and stop in at Sunriver Resort for dinner in the evening.
Day Three: Choose Your Adventure in Bend, Oregon
An independent day with plenty of options facilitated by your guide.
Bend has become a widely-known adventure sports mecca in recent years, and is a veritable outdoor & cultural playground. Your guide will help you plan the perfect day, including offering a number of optional local tour opportunities and activities.
Set your own pace today….. (brewery tour, Paulina Plunge, whitewater rafting, High Desert Museum, half-day hiking with your guide… TBD)
Day Four: Willamette Valley
Silver Falls hiking & wine tasting!
This morning we’ll have breakfast in Sisters, Oregon as we approach Santiam Pass, a more southerly route across the Cascade Mountains. The subalpine is behind us, and the High Desert fades away as we enter the Willamette Valley, stopping in the rain forest of its eastern edge in Silver Falls State Park. Nature walks bring us to two stunning waterfalls where short walks lead us behind the curtain of falling water.
Our journey ends this afternoon with a relaxing treat. Revel in the rolling hills and scenery of Willamette wine country, and experience pinot noir, the wine varietal that made the region famous. Enjoy a winery lunch.
Tour Details & Options
Traverse the Mt. Hood National Forest, including a visit to historic Timberline Lodge.
Experience the extreme dichotomy of landscapes in Oregon: the verdant forests of Western Oregon, and the high desert of Central Oregon.
Relax near the jewel blue waters of Crater Lake and learn the volcanic history of Mount Mazama.
Feel the mist of waterfalls at Silver Falls State Park in the Cascade foothills.
Savor pinot noir in the world-renown Willamette Valley wine country.