What an amazing start to the summer break! A family vacation in Central Oregon with lush greenery as far as the eyes can go, and an awe-inspiring conglomerate of different landscapes—meadows, forests, mountains, and lakes.
We flew to Portland, OR, and drove 3.5 hours to a resort in the small city called ‘Redmond’. The scenery and the temperatures were a stark contrast to that of Phoenix, and trust me we did not mind it at all:-) We reached the resort around 9:00pm and it was still daylight!
Pretty soon we got used to the greenery, the cattle grazing freely (a rare sight for I mostly see them cramped inside a facility), alpacas ( llamas like animals), deers, horses, chipmunks and the wild flowers.
We visited the places that were closest to our resort, so our first stop was Peter Skene Ogden State scenic viewpoint. Besides the 300 feet canyon of the Crooked river, I was immensely amused by the dare devil act of bungee jumping on that bridge. I captured some fine moments on my iPhone.
The next stop was the Smith Rock State Park. The scenery changed from green trees to huge rocks, boulders and ridges. This park is the haven for rock climbers. We used our binoculars generously to look at the tiny moving dots climbing the rocks. Most of the trails head down to the crooked river. We chose the shortest and steepest trail called ‘the chute’. Going down the chute was fun as our feet pretty much walked on their own because of the high steep angle, but coming up was an arduous effort so we took multiple breaks. To sum it, we enjoyed this 0.3 mile hike with our children.
There was a replica of the monkey rock that got the kids excited and they got to try some of their rock climbing skills just like a pro.
This was a perfect day-1 to get us all excited.
We had a big day planned but as kids were tired, we took it easy and spent time at the resort.
Evening, we took kids to the Hope playground in Sam Johnson Park. It was an out of ordinary play area with zip lines, and climbing walls. If you travel with kids around that area, this park is worth a stop to rejuvenate their little souls.
We drove for about 2.5 hours to go to John Day Fossil Beds. In all, It offers three destinations- Sheep Rock, Painted Hills and Clarno. We did not do Clarno as it was further 2 hours drive.
The museum in the visiter center had a good collection of plant and animal fossils. We also got a good view of the Sheep Rock that had blue green layers due to volcanic ash collection.
Our next stop was Painted Hills which is about 5 miles from Sheep Rock. The hills were painted in hues of reds, yellow and golds. This was where a snake crossed my husbands path while on the trail.
This was the day of waterfalls! We drove on Mckenzie Highway with trees on both the sides. My husband who is an amazing planner had all the great falls marked on the map. The most scenic was the ‘Proxy falls’ with its over 200 feet fall.
Sahalie and Koosah Waterfalls– This was little more than two mile hike with some stairs in between. These falls were also picturesque and the trail family friendly.
Remember to keep your jackets as it gets cooler near the falls.
We also stopped at the Clear Lake, but did not find it captivating, perhaps I went with a lot of expectation. It was scenic but not the highlight.
Next we drove to see the ‘Tamalitch Pool’, but took a wrong path and later decided that it was not meant to be as kids were super exhausted. The good thing was that we were able to give ride to a group of hikers who lost their way.
On our return path to the resort, we stopped at a small dine-in place in the town‘Sisters’. After an amazing dinner and frozen yoghurt, we walked amidst the small shops, modern art pieces, hanging quilts and artwork. I found this town quaint with a small town charisma.
This was the day to walk inside one of the Lava Tube Caves formed due to Newberry Crater Volcano which last erupted 100,000 years ago. So glad that my hubby researched about this place before we headed in that direction. The temperature inside was cold, in 40s, so we wore layers of clothes to keep us warm inside. We rented two lanterns and so glad we did that as the cave was pitch dark. The walking path has some steps, is unpaved and patches where we walked amidst lava rocks.Within next 30 minutes we were restless to come out and get a glimmer of sunlight. We kept walking in hope of getting out the other end of the cave, but then we found out from another traveller that the cave has just one opening, so we headed back the way we entered. The entire trek took us about an hour, and the experience was out of this world. We were glad that we did it.
Then we went to the Lava Butte which is a Cinder Cone. The view from this peak was vast and unhindered, the reason it is used to report timber fires in this region.
Next stop was Crater Lake. It took us about two hours to reach the lake. The first pull out itself was breathtaking. No kidding, I felt I was standing in a post card- crisp blue waters, more aptly a mirror with a reflection of the mountains and the sky. Any amount of poetic description would do no justice to the unsurpassed beauty of this lake. This is one of the deepest lakes in USA (1,943 deep), created by collapse of the volcano Mount Mazama.
Summer temperature was pleasant in 60s, and we were in our t-shirts surrounded by piles of snow on either side of the road.
We kept this day as a chill day, where we caught up with our work and kids spent hours watching TV. We loved the mystique of this slow paced day. I biked around the resort,
enjoying the small lake, geese family with lots of little ones, deers and the chipmunks.
This was our last day in OR, so we had our suitcases, and drove for about 3 hours from Redmond to Multinuma Falls. Multinuma falls were majestic with 282 ft height. We walked to the first stop- the bridge, which was a short but steep hike.
From these falls we drove to the Portland airport, which was about 30 minutes away. As we flew in plane, I thought of the good memories we created on this trip. There was something for all of us in this trip, hence it was more than satisfying, and as my kid says, “It was so awesome!”