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What should we do and see in Central Oregon in September?

Hi! You’re in for a treat. Central Oregon in September is so beautiful.

I have several recommendations for you. Don’t miss the High Desert Museum, which presents natural and cultural history and also has live animals on site. For hiking, try Smith Rock State Park, the Deschutes River Trail, or the Cascade Lakes region. Tumalo Falls is near Bend and easy to access. The Newberry National Monument offers cool volcanic history and views as well as a waterfall, Paulina Falls.

Take a stroll through Sisters - a fun little town with Western flair. Many events take place in Sisters in September, too. There is a ton of great dining in the area – try the Old Mill District or downtown in Bend for starters.

What else do you want to know? Have a great time!

Which state park has the best oceanside site for tent camping? Looking for great views and beach access.

I would have to go with Cape Lookout State Park on the North Oregon Coast. RV spaces are more toward the center of the park and the beachfront sites are dedicated to tents. You will find a link to the campground map on the Cape Lookout page of the Oregon State Parks website.

Happy exploring!

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on August 15th, 2014 - Post Your Answer

What are the top sites we shouldn’t miss in Southern Oregon?

While in Southern Oregon, I recommend spending time in the quaint town of Ashland, taking in a Shakespearean theater production or dining at one of the many farm-to-fork restaurants. If time permits, a day trip to Crater Lake National Park is a must: the route from Ashland (or anywhere in Southern Oregon) will take you past Union Creek and several lava tube sections of the Rogue River. During the warm months, I recommend a day on the Rogue River, rafting or fishing, and in winter, various snow sports are on tap at Mt. Ashland.

If you’re into breweries, Medford and Ashland have several great locations, such as Caldera and Standing Stone, or if wine’s more your thing, I recommend a day on the Applegate Wine Trail (outside historic Jacksonville). If you let me know your interests, I know I could tailor my answer to you better!

Where can I find huckleberries around Mt. Hood?

Huckleberries generally grow in the mountains above about 3000 feet. There are some great spots around Mt Hood, and I have even gone over to the Wallowas to pick.

A free permit is required from the Forest Service, even if you are only planning on harvesting a small amount for your personal use. My best advice is to ask the rangers when you stop in the Ranger Station to get your permit. I usually go to the Zig Zag Ranger station to do this. All that is required is a valid photo ID.

Be aware that there are some areas off limits to picking, as they are reserved to Warm Springs tribal members due to treaty rights. These areas are generally well marked. The rangers can also help you with this, and even provide maps.

If you aren’t interested in picking, there is generally a stand in the parking lot next to Charburger in Cascade Locks that sells them during the season. You may also be interested in the Mount Hood Huckleberry Festival.

However, my favorite place to find huckleberries is in one of the famous milkshakes from the Huckleberry Inn in Government Camp.

Happy hunting!!

What are some good hiking trails near Grants Pass?

Some of my favorite day hikes around Grants Pass are along Southern Oregon rivers and connected to mountain bike paths. Below are my top three.

Cathedral Hills Trail System:
This trail network is a great option if you’re short on time and want a trail head very close to town. It’s open to hikers, mountain bikers, and horses, and includes multiple loops, so it’s easy to adjust your hike to fit your schedule. The Outback Loop is 3.5 miles total, and a great route for viewing Madrone and Manzanita (beware, however, that you will encounter Poison Oak, too). From Grants Pass, Cathedral Hills is four miles out Williams Highway 238 on Espry Road.

Illinois River Trail:
For a more challenging hike, the Illinois River Trailhead to Pine Flat route is 5.3 miles, and follows the scenic Illinois River. You can find great swimming holes along the way in summer, but you’ll earn your dip in the water: the trail can be dusty and hot. In late May to July, wildflowers are spectacular here. From Grants Pass, take the Redwood Highway 18 miles to Selma Oregon. Take County Road 5070 (Illinois River Road) to 4103. The last few miles to the trail head are rugged!

Rainie Falls Trail:
For a cooler, southside hike, Rainie Falls follows the Rogue River from Grave Creek Bridge to the falls. The hike is 2 miles (and 2 more back) and is a great opportunity to see migrating salmon. It’s possible to swim at the falls, or better yet, eat a picnic lunch while watching kayakers and river rafters make the plunge down! From Grants Pass, take Exit 61 of I-5. Drive through Galice to the Grave Creek Bridge.

Enjoy hiking near Grants Pass!

What are some family-friendly things to do around Lincoln City?

Obviously beach activities like beachcombing, kite flying and building sandcastles tops the list, but there are some other attractions and day trips that I would recommend. Depending on your kids’ ages, the Jennifer Sears Glass Art Studio offers an opportunity for capable youngsters to create their own piece of art glass. Chinook Winds Casino Resort has an arcade and there is a kids’ park with kayaking and bumper boats on Devils Lake. I would highly recommend a couple of short day trips as well. Depoe Bay has a Whale Watching Center that is the most dependable place to spot gray whales, even during non-migratory times. The small town shops are also fun to explore. A trip to Newport and the Oregon Coast Aquarium is a can’t miss for kids and adults of any age. It’s a great place to spend at least two hours. The Newport bayfront is also a good place for kids with family attractions, dining and shopping. You are likely to see blubbery sea lions lounging and barking from the bay front docks. A trip south to Pacific City is also a possibility. The kids can climb the giant sand dune on the flank of Cape Kiwanda.

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on March 25th, 2014 - Post Your Answer

Where are the best hot springs in Southern Oregon?

Hands down, the best and most comprehensive hot springs option in Southern Oregon is Jackson Hot Springs in Ashland. This historic hotel and hot springs is now a wellness and eco-resort, called Jackson Wellsprings. On site, guests can enjoy an olympic sized pool, soaking pools, hot tubs, steam rooms, and private pools. The entire resort has a beautiful garden setting, and overnight lodging is available (though not required to ‘partake of the water’). Enjoy!

What are some good drives to see waterfalls that are just a short hike from the road?

Thanks for the question!  There are some very easy-to-follow routes for waterfall lovers.  I recommend you either order a free copy of the Oregon Scenic Byways magazine or view it online as it really outlines the routes with beautiful pictures.  As far as the time of year, there will be more water at other times of the year (winter, spring) however in August there is still more than plenty of water for the waterfalls.

From North to South

I-84 and the Columbia River Gorge: This is the iconic waterfall route in Oregon that includes Multnomah Falls (the states tallest).  The waterfalls in this area are breathtaking and also easy to access from the road.  They tend to be more crowded given the proximity to Portland.

Silver Falls: Given the short distance of the Columbia River Gorge, I suggest visiting the falls and then backtracking.  If you love farm land, make your way south through Mollala and Silverton to Silver Falls State Park.  This might be one of the best places to visit for waterfalls and hiking.  It’s just beautiful here.

Highway 126 – Florence to Sisters: Sweet Creek Falls is one of my favorite waterfall hikes is near Florence and the Oregon Coast.  The numerous falls parallel the trail and in the summer months the water is warm enough to wade into.  If you continue inland along Hwy 126 you pass Eugene and head into the McKenzie River Valley.  About an hour and a half drive from Eugene, you will arrive at Sahalie and Koosah Falls, two beautiful falls that are along the McKenzie River National Recreation Trail.  You can park at either waterfall and hike in a loop to see both.

Bend: Highway 126 east links up with Highway 20 which heads into Central Oregon and leads you towards Bend.  There are some beautiful falls in Bend, including Tumalo Falls.  From here you can head south along Highway 97 to Highway 138 west.  Highway 138 offers access to the north entrance of Crater Lake (this entrance is only open in the summer months) and parallels the wild and scenic North Umpqua River.  One of the highlights of the waterfalls on this route is Toketee Falls.  There isn’t much of a hike to get to this waterfall, but there are other waterfalls along Highway 138 with some more hiking.  If you want to hike here, I recommend seeing the falls and then cross the road to hike along the North Umpqua Trail (just watch out for poison oak, which is extremely thick in this area).

I hope this helps you plan a great trip.  Let me know if I can offer any more suggestions.

We are staying in Klamath Falls at the end of April. What are some fun day trips we can take from here?

Oh, wow, you are in for a treat! Klamath Falls is a beautiful area with lots to see.

Bird watching and boating are popular on its many waterways. There is also a fantastic geological destination south at Lava Beds National Monument. Try fishing or rafting with Roe Outfitters.

If you are up for a two hour drive north, you’ll catch awesome views of the Cascade Mountains along the way and end up in Bend, the biggest city in Central and Eastern Oregon, where culture, dining, and lots more recreation abounds. Hit the High Desert Museum while you’re up north.

Drive just over 60 miles west of Klamath Falls and end up in Ashland, home of the world famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival and more great dining, culture and wonderful outdoor opportunities. Absolutely don’t miss the opportunity to drive up to Crater Lake; you’ll have to come in from the south to Rim Village – the only visitors center accessible by car in the winter. Can I answer any other specific questions? Enjoy your trip!

Can you suggest a 2-day Oregon Coast itinerary beginning in Brookings?

The South Oregon Coast has many attractions that you could easily spend two days without traveling too far up the coast, depending on how long you want to linger and explore.

DAY ONE: I would save a full day for Harris Beach State Park and the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. Plan your visit to Harris Beach for low tide and enjoy the tidepools and abundant bird life. There are many stops along the Boardman Corridor that offer easy access to stunning viewpoints and also some great short hikes. For short easy stops, consider Lone Ranch (beach access and tidepools), Cape Ferrelo (short walk to viewpoints), House Rock Viewpoint, Whaleshead Beach (steep, rough road to scenic rock formations and beach), Natural Bridges (short walk to an amazing view), Thunder Rock Cove (short hike to amazing views) and Arch Rock Viewpoint (easy walking paths with dramatic views).

DAY TWO: Otter Point State Recreation Site is a fascinating area just north of Gold Beach with interested rock formations of basalt and sandstone a short walk from the parking area. The drive north is very scenic from there, hugging the coastline to Port Orford. You will likely want to stop at several waysides for the views. If you continue north, make the side trip to Cape Blanco State Park to see the lighthouse at the end of the dramatic cape. If you save time to go as far as Bandon, you will be rewarded with amazing views along Beach Loop Drive. Must stops are Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint and Coquille Point, where walking paths overlook amazing rock formations. The Coquille River Lighthouse can be seen from the south side of the river, or you can cross over and get a close look at it in Bullards Beach State Park.

Brookings to Bandon is only about 85 miles, but there is so much great sightseeing, I can’t image you can do more than that in two very busy days!

Happy exploring!

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on March 1st, 2014 - Post Your Answer
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