I have just gotten back home to Vancouver a couple of days ago with my friend Kathleen from our Ladies Oregon Road Trip. We had a great time with lot’s of adventures and stories on our travels throughout Washington and Oregon States. We traveled about 2,532 kms total through OR and WA States in six days and we saw A LOT of both the people and the topography of these states.
Me and Kathleen at Cannon Beach, OR
Heading South to Crater Lake
This is our route from Vancouver, Canada through WA and OR states to Crater Lake, OR. This took us 2 days to drive staying overnight in Woodland, WA off the I 5 Highway.
View Larger Map
Day 1: We left Vancouver, Canada in the morning and crossed the American Border where we encountered a pretty aggressive border guard. He apparently didn’t understand why two Canadian girls can a) be camping and b) be friends despite being from different Provinces. I’m going to write a separate post about Homeland Security but to make a long story short we got pulled over, questioned, car searched, and narrowly escaped without getting retinal scanned or fingerprinted to enter into the USA.
We had wanted to view some of the Volcanic Activity that shaped the topography in WA State so after we passed Seattle we headed South East into the Mt. Rainer National Forest and into the East side of Mt. St. Helen’s. We had a particularly interesting time at Mt. St. Helens National Forest mainly because the cheap map we had bought did not show proper observation points and we ended up driving around on a small one-way road with a huge drop off that turned out to be closed. Fortunately, a man we ran into on this road who was working on it told us we didn’t need to turn around, rather, just move the Road Closed Signs and keep driving.
Driving my Toyota Yaris through closed roads
We even had the privilege on this road of seeing a man and his girlfriend drive by on their motorcycle with a rifle across his lap!, sadly I didn’t get a picture of them. We kept driving as the sun started to set to see the Observation point of the infamous Mt. St. Helens Crater that blew up in May 1980. From the East side of the Mountain we could only see a partial view of inside the crater but it was still really beautiful and scenic with the lake at the bottom and the sun setting. The best part was Kathleen and I even spotted some local wildlife at dusk seeing a porcupine, fox and an owl. The only downside about being in Mt. St. Helen’s Forest at sunset is that we had to drive about 2 1/2 hrs to get back to the I 5 and were very thankful when we arrived in Woodland, WA for our first night’s rest.
Mt St. Helens sunset view from the East Side
Day 2: We left from Woodland, WA in the morning for another long drive through Eastern Oregon to Crater Lake. Yes, we could have saved time taking the I 5 south to Crater Lake, but that would have made for not a very interesting road trip. Eastern Oregon is a very dry desert but is a pretty landscape with Mt. Hood and the Cascade Mountains in the backdrop. We were happy to finally reach Crater Lake that afternoon and set up camp.
Eastern Oregon with Mt. Hood in the background
Days 3-5: I must say, Crater Lake is gorgeous! However, if you do not like hiking I don’t recommend staying in the area very long because it is isolated and not a lot of activities are offered. Crater Lake is also a lot bigger than I initially thought is was, its circumference is 53 km and to get down to the actual lake is a 213 meter decent with a strenuous hike back up to the top.
Crater Lake, OR
We did get a chance to view Crater Lake with it’s world famous turquoise blue waters but there had been forest fires in the area and the wind had brought smoke and obscured our view of the lake. Also, it was not the most comfortable breathing in all the smoke. Despite the smoke, we did manage to enjoy ourselves and the smoke did clear up during our time there.
Crater Lake, OR wrapped in smoke
The Pinnacles at Crater Lake along the Rim Drive
There is a neat drive you can do around Crater Lake’s whole rim with multiple view points around the lake. During peak summer times you can take a boat around the lake which even drops you off at the Wizard Island in the middle of the lake, but unfortunately, they had closed down for the season when we arrived. We camped at $21 USD per night in the only legal spots in Crater Lake National Park, the Mazama Village Campground owned by Xanterra Parks and Resorts which also has more expensive cabin and lodging options in the park as well. Our campsite was decent and the toilet and shower facilities worked well and were clean, which is always a bonus. However, next time I recommend if you camp here to request, if possible,to stay at the campsites alongside the river as they are more private and much prettier than the one we stayed at.
Anyways, Kathleen and I did do one hike up Mt. Scott that was 8.1 km, which is the highest point at Crater Lake that had a decent 400 meter elevation gain. Next time, I would like to do the hike down to the water of the Crater but it was too smokey and I had difficultly convincing Kathleen that touching the actual water in the crater would be fun =), next time!
Heading North back to Vancouver, Canada VIA Oregon Coast
This is our route back up from Crater Lake, OR along the Oregon Coast, going to Mt. St. Helen’s back home to Vancouver, Canada which took us two days to drive staying overnight in Seaside, OR.
Days 5-6: Kathleen and I left Crater Lake and headed up to the Northern Oregon Coast to meet up with my friend Heidi, who now lives in Portland. Heidi also brought her friend Karri so we had a fun time relaxing and catching up with them in Seaside, OR. Also, no visit is complete to the Oregon Coast without beautiful views, beach walks and a visit to the Tillimook Cheese Factory.
Heidi and I at Seaside, OR
Kathleen at Rockaway Beach, OR
Although we had already seen Mt. St. Helens from the East side, Kathleen and I had heard that that the quick side trip to view the crater from the West side off the I 5 was worth it. Actually, I highly recommend the detour off the I 5 if you are in the area; you can see right into the blown off crater of Mt St. Helens and its lava path is spectacular.
Me at the Mt St. Helens Crater
Finally, on our way home, we are both big fans of the popular Discovery Channel TV Show, The Deadliest Catch. All of the crab boats are moored in Seattle so we made a detour to find them….well, we had quite an interesting experience that deserves its own blog post which I will do next, stay tuned, but what I will say it was a hilarious wrap up to our road trip in the States.
I truely love traveling and am always looking forward to new adventures – I just have to decide where I want to go next!