Tuesday, October 27, 2015

ExplOregon October vacation, part two.

Part One of our ExplOregon October vacation took us through the Umatilla, Malheur, and Ochoco National Forests. After a quick family visit in Bend, we had three days to wrap up Part Two so we headed straight to Deschutes National Forest.

to roads less traveled!

Stops included Newberry National Volcanic Monument and the west end of the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway. Here's the recap...

The hikes. We considered hiking up to Paulina Peak at Newberry... until we learned you could just drive to the top.

so we did that instead

But we did walk along the Big Obsidion Flow trail and the trail to Paulina Falls. (As an aside - it's "pol-EYE-nah," named after Northern Paiute leader Chief Paulina. Don't be a tourist like me and call it "paul-eee-nah falls.")

youngest lava flow in Oregon

especially low flow for this time of year

On our way back to Eugene we stopped off at Salt Creek Falls (Oregon's second tallest waterfall), where we also hiked back into Diamond Creek Falls - definitely do this side trek if you're in the area!

fall at Salt Creek Falls

Diamond Creek Falls trail

Diamond Creek Falls -
like Ramona Falls on crack

And with clear skies that afternoon, we couldn't help but take a detour over to Umpqua National Forest's Mount June near Dexter.

formerly a fire lookout

It was a bit of a drive up a bumpy gravel road to get to the trailhead, but the panoramic views at the top of the mountain were worth the time.

The campgrounds. We were surprised to find many campgrounds in the forest "officially" closed for the season. We could still camp (for free!), but we'd have to bring our own water and pack out our trash... Small prices to pay for the privilege of two nights in beautiful forests.

We stayed at Little Crater campground in Newberry National Volcanic Monument on our first night. It got pretty cold that night but the lakeside view was spectacular, especially during sunset.

so spacious for an empty campground


We spent several hours the next day driving around Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway looking for the perfect campsite. Some were too crowded, some too isolated and run-down, some didn't have views. We decided to stop for the night at Lava Flow Campground. It may not have been "perfect"... but how often do you get to camp next to an old lava flow?

it was RIGHT there - 
pretty cool!

Davis Lake was just a short walk from the campground and I spent an hour watching hundreds of ducks make their rounds on the lake.

"it's OK, ducks - I'm only armed with a camera!"

(The next morning we heard gunshots... Sigh.)

The food. I was determined not to schlep that can of coconut milk we bought in Portland back to Eugene, so we had tofu curry at Paulina Lake. Without rice or cornstarch it was a bit soupy, but that was okay because it was SO. COLD. that night.

spice list: coriander, cumin, curry, ginger, basil

At Lava Flow we went low-tech, grilling veggies and tofu on the bonfire... I mean campfire.

kale, peppers, onions, tofu, tomatoes, carrots
(not charred this time)

Simple, hearty, tasty.

The end. Nine days later, we'd seen five of Oregon's 13 national forests (six if you count Mount Hood, which we drove through on our way out of Portland), and four of the 11 national and state scenic byways.

near Spray

near Ukiah

near Sumpter

near La Pine

This trip was a great reminder of why we love Oregon. Sometimes everything you need in a vacation is right in your own backyard...


  1. I love your blog because even though I grew up here, I always learn about a new spot I have never been before. Oregon has SO much to offer, and it's so fun seeing it through your eyes!

    1. Thanks Marlynn! Yep, it's a pretty awesome place to be. I especially love that we have beach, mountains, desert and forests all with a few hours' drive. (But everyone who doesn't live here: WE'RE FULL. STAY AWAY. Haha.)

  2. I always love hearing about your campfire meals! Plus, those waterfalls are amazing - I need to get out there and see them!

    1. Thanks Erin! I try to keep the food interesting... One can only eat so much oatmeal and spaghetti. :)

  3. Love Little Crater campground area... Certainly a lot to see here in our home state.

    1. So, Rhonda, I was googling "fall camping Oregon" to try to get ideas for a title for an elsewhere-blog-post, and your 9/2012 post was the second search result. Pretty cool. :)

  4. Such gorgeous pictures! Looks like you had a great time! I agree that Oregon has so much to offer!

    1. Thanks Monica! Hope you've been able to enjoy some of Oregon's offerings this year!

  5. I love waterfalls! Definitely need to put these on my must-see list.

    1. Yes! There are so many other beautiful falls in addition to the often-visited Multnomah... And just a few hours' drive away. Hope you get there soon!

  6. OOOO my wanderlust is at an all time high right now and you just added to it! Those falls - swoon!

    1. Yay! Not too far away either, relatively speaking... Hope you can get there soon, Lindsay!

  7. I think I've actually taken that highway. Alas . . . it was late at night, and I don't remember much of the scenery.

    1. Now would be a great time to revisit the drive in the daylight, Geoff - those fall colors are really amazing this time of year!