Exploring Oregon’s Crater Lake Region
By Emily Butterfield
Designated as a Wild and Scenic River, Oregon’s Umpqua River flows from the Southern Oregon Cascade Mountains west to the Pacific Ocean. The North Umpqua Highway follows the river’s north fork, leading to more than 10 waterfalls – it’s fittingly nicknamed the “Highway of Waterfalls.” Traveling this 100-mile route from Roseburg to Diamond Lake and down to Crater Lake offers Escape renters a chance to experience the state’s stunning woodlands, world-class fishing, inviting hot springs and bursting waterways. Check out these can’t-miss stops and places to take your camper van or camp along this scenic byway, just 3-4 hours from Escape’s new Portland depot.
Colliding Rivers Viewpoint
Located near Glide, this viewpoint is the only place in the world where two rivers (the North Umpqua and Little River) collide to form one river. It’s a gorgeous place to take some pictures and appreciate the geologic wonders of the area. Be sure to stop at the Colliding Rivers Drive-In for a scoop of Umpqua ice cream!
Fall Creek Falls
Walk one mile to this multi-tiered falls surrounded by basalt rock formations. The path leads to the base of the falls – a great place to cool off on a hot summer day. Camp nearby at Susan Creek or Bogus Creek campgrounds; both locations offer reservable and first-come-first-serve sites.
A short 0.4-mile trail wanders through old-growth forest to an overlooking view of the upper and lower falls. The water plunges into a gorgeous blue-green pool surrounded by steep basalt cliffs. It’s one of the prettiest gorges in the area.
Camp nearby at Toketee Lake Campground; the campground has reservable and first-come-first-serve sites; it’s a dry campground so campers must bring their own water.
Tip: Just up the road from Toketee Lake Campground on FS Road 3401 is the Umpqua Hot Springs Trail where hikers can take a dip in a chain of hot pools.
Don’t miss a stop at Southwest Oregon’s highest waterfall – the 272-foot Watson Falls. The falls are visible from the parking lot, but a short 0.4-mile trail leads to an even better view.
Camp nearby at Toketee Lake Campground; the campground has reservable and first-come-first-serve sites; it’s a dry campground so campers must bring own water.
Nestled in the Umpqua National Forest, Diamond Lake is a beautiful place to stop and explore during your trip. From the lake, you can see Mount Bailey and Mount Thielsen on a clear day; there’s also a bike path around the lake and many trails to hike in the area.
Diamond Lake Campground, on the eastern shore of the lake, has more than 200 campsites, including reservable, first-come-first-serve and lakefront sites. There are several other campgrounds in the area, as well as Diamond Lake Resort
After leaving the Diamond Lake area, head south to Oregon’s only national park – Crater Lake. At almost 2,000 feet deep, it’s the deepest lake in the US and one of the deepest in the world. View the glimmering blue waters from Rim Drive and stop by the visitor’s center to learn about the massive eruption that formed the lake. Strong hikers can access the lake shore via the steep Cleetwood Cove Trail.
Mazama Campground is the closest campervan-friendly location near the park; it’s located seven miles south of Rim Village near Highway 62. The campground has more than 200 reservable and first-come-first-serve sites.
Tip: Look up to see the Milky Way from the lake – Crater Lake National Park is one of the top 10 dark sky locations in the National Park System.