Klamath Falls OR – Waterfalls, Lava Tubes and Crater Lake National Park


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North America » United States » Oregon » Klamath Falls
October 29th 2014
Published: November 19th 2014
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I Had This Part Of The Park All To MyselfI Had This Part Of The Park All To MyselfI Had This Part Of The Park All To Myself

Tingley Lake Estates RV Park - Klamath Falls OR
After being rained out a couple of days and enduring marginal weather a couple of others, Wednesday, October 22, 2014 was a beautiful day to be out and about whether driving to a new location, taking a scenic drive or exploring an outdoors attraction such as a waterfall or a covered bridge. My regular followers know that Wednesday is my relocation day, and this Wednesday was no exception although this Wednesday found me stepping outside the box. Since my next destination, Klamath Falls OR, is only about 140 miles and 3-1/2 hours from Bend OR and since I had been assured by the folks at the Bend Visitor Center that there was adequate room for parking my rig with the Pilgrim in tow, I did have one stop planned for the trip south. That stop, High Desert Museum, was included in my last blog – Bend OR - Lots of Scenic Routes and a Taste of Fall Foliage – Finally!– because of its proximity to Bend.

I arrived at the Tingley Lake Estates RV Park on the south side of Klamath Falls without incident. The mobile home park manager was outside when I arrived and told me to set up my rig and return for the paperwork. On the way to my site on the other side of the lake, I happened upon an “Antelope Crossing” sign. Chuckling to myself, I continued onward, set up the Pilgrim and returned to the office. Although the topography screamed “antelope,” my limited experience suggests antelope are too skittish to pass through human habitation for a drink where water is as plentiful as it is in Oregon. The park manager told me differently. Antelope and deer as well as flocks of ducks and geese frequent Tingley Lake.

For as nice as the weather was on Wednesday, it was conversely so on Thursday – thus, a Mr. Domestic day was in order. The forecast for Friday called for iffy weather in the morning with clearing in the afternoon so I headed for Crater Lake National Park. Characteristically, I took an indirect path to Crater Lake and made several “photo op” stops along OR 140 and Fish Lake Road on the way to Butte Falls OR. There, I turned north on Butte Falls-Prospect Road toward Prospect OR.

As I neared Prospect, Irene (my GPS) directed me to Mills Creek Falls. I didn’t know at the time, but the Mills Creek Falls Scenic Area is a twofer – two
I Was Content With Views From Across The ValleyI Was Content With Views From Across The ValleyI Was Content With Views From Across The Valley

174’ Mills Creek Falls – Near Prospect OR
waterfalls for one return ascent up a moderately steep hill for an old fart. The descent was easy! Both the 174’ Mills Creek Falls and the almost 200 ‘ Barr Creek Falls are really nice, but the views are quite distant causing me to label them “recommended but not absolute must sees.” The ascent actually wasn’t that bad. I’ve just learned to take my time, exert until I huff and puff, rest until I’m only huffing and repeat as necessary! Yes, I wish, but it is what it is, and I have resolved to participate in The Great Adventure to the fullest extent possible.

In Prospect, I caught OR 62 (Crater Lake Highway) to Natural Bridge Falls; however, the signage notes Natural Bridge. Some sources I checked split hairs and label a short 15’ cascade a waterfall; whereas, other sources say, “This isn't so much a waterfall as a violent rapid.” I subscribe to the latter viewpoint, B-U-T the best part of the attraction is the, ta-dah, natural bridge. A paved foot path leads across a footbridge to several interesting vantage points that are handicapped accessible. “The Cave” is a lava tube that has collapsed at some point so
Less Volume But More Showy Than Mills Creek FallsLess Volume But More Showy Than Mills Creek FallsLess Volume But More Showy Than Mills Creek Falls

200 ‘ Barr Creek Falls – Near Prospect OR
the water attempts to enter the opening but is effervesced back into the stream. “Out of the Rock” is the exit point for the stream emanating from another lava tube; whereas, “The Inlet” … you’re on your own for this one!

The Natural Bridge is the top surface of the lave tube. It takes 35 seconds for the water to travel the length of the 200’ tube. Typically, the river flows through the tube, but in times of high water levels, portions of the river will flow atop the tube. This natural wonder ranks very high on my list because of its uniqueness and accessibility; and, in my opinion, any tourist who drives past without stopping is, well, let’s be nice and say foolhardy.

The Rogue River Gorge Falls is down OR Highway 62 a short drive and is pretty impressive. There are four viewpoints along a ¼ mile paved trail so the visitor can get a good look at the narrow gorge and the Rogue River some 45’ below. This attraction is nice and, as long as you’re in the area to see The Natural Bridge, you might as well stop.

As planned, I entered Crater
“The Cave”“The Cave”“The Cave”

Natural Bridge Falls – Jackson County OR
Lake National Park from the west, circled Crater Lake counterclockwise and exited via the north entrance. The park was established in 1902, is the fifth oldest national park in the United States and, quite surprising to me, is the only national park in the state of Oregon. Contrary to the beliefs of my childhood, a giant meteorite responsible for the demise of the dinosaurs did not create Crater Lake; but, instead, Crater Lake rests in the caldera of a volcano – Mount Mazama.

Most of the Earth's volcanoes are located around the Pacific Ocean, and its accompanying Ring of Fire, because that is the location of most of the Earth's subduction zones. A subduction zone (a new term for me, too) occurs where one plate is shoved under another plate. The downward moving plate is always the oceanic one. If the overlying plate is continental, the result is a chain of volcanoes such as the Andes or the Cascades; however, if the overlying plate is oceanic the aftermath is a chain of volcanic islands such as the Marianas or the Aleutians. This also is where the Earth's deep ocean trenches are located and where the Earth's deepest earthquakes are
Unobstructed Views Are Not Readily AvailableUnobstructed Views Are Not Readily AvailableUnobstructed Views Are Not Readily Available

Rogue River Gorge Falls – Jackson County OR
recorded. The trenches form because the downgoing plate is bent downward as it subducts. Earthquakes occur in both instances as the two plates scrape against each other and then, eventually, bend.

The volcanic activity has created a mountain chain – the Cascade Range. The large volcanoes in the range are called the High Cascades; however, there are many other much smaller volcanoes in the range as well. About 400,000 years ago, Mount Mazama began its existence in much the same way as the other mountains of the High Cascades. Over time, alternating layers of lava flows and pyroclastic flows built Mazama's overlapping cones until it reached about 11,000 feet in height.

After a period of dormancy, Mazama became active again. Then, around 5700 BC, Mazama collapsed into itself during a tremendous volcanic eruption, losing 2,500 to 3,500 feet in height. The eruption laid waste to much of what is now the greater Crater Lake area and produced more than 150 times as much ash as the May 18, 1980 eruption of Mount Saint Helens. The large caldera that remained was filled with water in about 740 years. All of the water that entered the caldera came directly from
What I Couldn’t See Most Of The Time Appears PerilousWhat I Couldn’t See Most Of The Time Appears PerilousWhat I Couldn’t See Most Of The Time Appears Perilous

Crater Lake National Park - Crater Lake OR
precipitation in the form of snow and rain. The result was a beautiful lake with a deep blue hue – Crater Lake.

Crater Lake is 1,943 feet deep at its deepest point; which makes it, arguably, the deepest lake in the United States, the second deepest in North America and the ninth deepest in the world. The caldera rim ranges in elevation from 7000 to 8000 feet. The United States Geological Survey benchmarked the elevation of the lake surface itself at 6,178 feet.

Despite what the Klamath Falls weather forecast had indicated, I could easily see that my hoped for “better weather in the afternoon” hadn’t happened! “But, Dorothy, you’re not in Klamath Falls any more.” I drove a considerable distance after passing the national park boundary sign before encountering the entry station. Of course, my America the Beautiful Senior Pass negated the fee. The park ranger looked at the skies and optimistically noted the clouds might lift. It already was midafternoon, but as long as I already had made the drive…. Besides, I had some waterfalls to enjoy on the northwest side of the park.

I made a short stop at the visitor center to buy the standard hat pin and patch souvenirs (neither break nor occupy a lot of space) and set out for the rim drive. A stop at Vidae Falls was a waste of time. I’m sure glad I didn’t hike ½ mile for that trickle! The higher the road climbed, the denser the clouds became. Makes sense to me! Pretty soon there were small patches of snow. Then, finally, a brief respite where I could see a small portion of Crater Lake from a scenic vista. Pretty cool! I pressed onward.

In due course, I encountered a road construction crew and was asked to wait while the equipment opened a path for me. They thought the road had been closed. I passed most of the equipment but had to wait for the driver of a eighteen wheeler to finish securing his load before I could pass. When he had finished, he walked my direction and we chatted for a while. He told me they were done for the year and would be out of the park momentarily. I was sure glad HE was driving the semi and I the Ram!

A few miles further, and the skies began to lighten.
That Water Sure Is BlueThat Water Sure Is BlueThat Water Sure Is Blue

Crater Lake National Park - Crater Lake OR
In minutes, I was basking in the sun under cloudless blue skies. Unbelievable! I stopped at a handful of vista points and took numerous pictures of Crater Lake. That is the bluest water I have ever seen. I descended from the rim, exited via the north entrance and turned west on OR 230 as planned. I made unplanned stops at roadside vistas for Mount Bailey and Mount Thielsen, the “Lightning Rod of the Cascades.” Lightning actually has melted rock at the summit of Mount Thielsen!

My next stop was National Creek Fall – 6 miles north of the junction of Highways 62 and 230. The time and my appetite almost caused me to skip the attraction. I’m glad I didn’t. A ½ mile trail leads to the impressive, unusual (at least in my limited experience) waterfall. National Creek Fall is not a long, single plunge into the river below like most of the waterfalls I have seen (and are true waterfalls by the definition I endorse) but, instead, National Creek splits into several smaller channels and takes a series of shorter plunges over a multitude of different paths to the creek below. This might not be a waterfall by
Mount Thielsen – The Lightning Rod Is ObscuredMount Thielsen – The Lightning Rod Is ObscuredMount Thielsen – The Lightning Rod Is Obscured

Just North Of Crater Lake National Park - Crater Lake OR
my definition, but it is pretty dadgum cool by any definition.

When I arrived, there were four visitors to the fall who left as soon as I arrived. I couldn’t get a good vantage point from the creek bank and decided it wasn’t prudent to venture onto slippery log downfall that crossed the creek when there was nobody to scream 9-1-1 to – I’m sure there was no cell service! I guess we will have to live with a less-than-optimal picture. Trust me, the sight is worth the effort (and the hike back out of the canyon wasn’t that bad either).

By the time I returned to the truck; daylight was waning, I was tired and hungry and, even though some attractions remained on the “to do” list, I cried Uncle. I asked Irene to find an eatery, selected what was a nice Ma & Pa joint and returned to Klamath Falls after a nice supper. The day had started mediocrely, had intensified to a white knuckler and had ended with some real eye candy. I had a very interesting day, and (once the clouds had dissipated) Crater Lake is everything I envisioned. I suppose I should have
Even If The Angle Was Less Than Ideal, The Falls Is ImpressiveEven If The Angle Was Less Than Ideal, The Falls Is ImpressiveEven If The Angle Was Less Than Ideal, The Falls Is Impressive

National Creek Falls – Douglas County OR
ordered a piece of that homemade pie!

The forecast for Saturday, October 25, 2014 called for strong winds, a moderate chance of rain with increased chances later in the day and mostly cloudy skies all day. I opted to play Mr. Domestic. As I was enjoying my coffee, I heard the sound of duck hunters attempting to harvest their quota. T’was a good day for duck hunting – the headwind (it’s so because I’m saying it’s so) made the ducks virtually stationary targets. No fair! Despite the wind, the sun shone intermittently until about 3 PM when the threatening clouds moved in, and the rain started about 4 PM. Sans the snow, it became as miserable in Klamath Falls as it had been on the rim of Crater Lake the day before! I no longer heard gunshots because the weather became even too miserable for the ducks (after all, this is MY story). About 5 PM, the rain had ended, and the sun was shining, but there were no ducks quacking. I wondered, had the hunters gone home because of the weather, because they had been VERY successful before the weather turned nasty or because they had run out
Stan Laurel???Stan Laurel???Stan Laurel???

Murals – Downtown Klamath Falls OR
of shells?

Sunday morning before NASCAR and the NFL, I made a quick trip downtown to catch a photo or two of the handful of murals I had spotted. One allegedly depicts the arrival of the first train in Klamath Falls on May 20, 1909. I don’t know if the scene might have come from a photograph and is supposed to depict the actual event or if the scene is a figment of the artists imagination. If the former is the case, there was a duo at the arrival that appear to be clones to Stan Laurel (in particular) and Oliver Hardy (perhaps).

Monday, October 27, 2014 found me heading for Collier Memorial State Park Logging Museum in Chiloquin OR. The museum was developed and donated to the state by two Collier brothers – Alfred, a lumberman, and Andrew, a banker. They amassed photographs and artifacts from horse and oxen logging, steam-powered logging, early internal combustion engine logging, post-World War II logging and, finally, modern logging to document the transformation of the Northwest. In addition to those subjects, informational placards discuss subjects such as life in a logging camp, the great pine sawmills, the art of the wheelwright
The Guts Of The SawmillThe Guts Of The SawmillThe Guts Of The Sawmill

Collier Memorial SP Logging Museum - Chiloquin OR
and how the road grader changed road-building, All the placards are replete with vintage photographs, anecdotes and first hand narratives.

Unfortunately, I fell victim to another “Closed for the Season” reality; however, the museum (sans the gift shop and restrooms) was open for self-guided business. Although not every specimen was documented, every type of artifact was thoroughly documented and provided one of the best self-guided experiences I can remember. Now, hush-hush, you naysayers! I’ll include an extensive array of photographs and let them speak for themselves. The museum is highly recommended for the logger and the history buff.

I carry a lot of mixed emotions about the Klamath County Museum in Klamath Falls. On one hand, the museum holds some very interesting history lessons. For example, I did not know the Japanese launched balloon bombs against the west coast of the United States during World War II. The only victims of the attacks were six local residents who were injured while on a picnic. The bombs were both anti-personnel and incendiary and were meant to kill people and to burn forest lands. The resulting havoc created inside the U.S. would, hopefully, draw U.S. troops back from the Pacific. Had the bombs been launched later in the summer or in the fall when the mountains were no longer snow-covered and the forests were dry, the plan might have met with at least some degree of success.

On the other hand, a lot of space is taken to meticulously detail a very narrow subject – i.e., the Indian Wars. About six to eight display cases each detail a specific conflict/action/treaty including detailed verbiage of the pact, photographs of the principal players and maps of the movements during the conflict. Somebody went to a lot of effort to offer a superior presentation, but this is a museum – not a reference book!

For as well documented as are the Indian Wars, other artifacts left me scratching my proverbial head. What I’m guessing is an antique tire changing machine (because it is placed amongst other automotive relics I CAN identify) is undocumented as are some fossilized bones and tusks as well as numerous unusual saddles. The vacillation between “great” and “mediocre-at-best” pervade the museum. Is the museum worth the modest admission fee while in Klamath Falls? Yes. Is the Klamath County Museum the attraction of choice if you have only
A Tire Changing Apparatus???A Tire Changing Apparatus???A Tire Changing Apparatus???

Klamath County Museum - Klamath Falls OR
one day in Klamath Falls? No.

Klamath Falls is a nice little community with a lot for the locals but not so much for the tourist. I am, however, keeping my eyes open for locales that might attract me for a month at a time after my days as a professional tourist have run their course. In that context, I’ll keep Klamath Falls in mind for some fishin’ and whittlin’. Heck, I might even take up chewin’ so I can do a little spittin’ as well!


Additional photos below
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The Fall Plumage Was Trying To Emit A Showy DisplayThe Fall Plumage Was Trying To Emit A Showy Display
The Fall Plumage Was Trying To Emit A Showy Display

Along OR 140 On The Way To Butte Falls OR
The Cows Don’t Care If Clouds Are Hanging Over The HillsThe Cows Don’t Care If Clouds Are Hanging Over The Hills
The Cows Don’t Care If Clouds Are Hanging Over The Hills

Along Fish Lake Road On The Way To Butte Falls OR
Is This Tree Sap???Is This Tree Sap???
Is This Tree Sap???

At The Mills Creek Falls Viewpoint – Near Prospect OR
I Guess This Could Be Called A FallsI Guess This Could Be Called A Falls
I Guess This Could Be Called A Falls

Natural Bridge Falls – Jackson County OR
“The Inlet”“The Inlet”
“The Inlet”

Natural Bridge Falls – Jackson County OR


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