1996 miles adventure in Oregon, Part I – Lava Beds, Crater Lake, Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway

Two weeks ago, we took a mid Fall escape to the Central Oregon, made all the way north to the historic Columbia River and then traced back along the Oregon Pacific Coast. I had never been there before, and it was, AMAZING! As our usual traveling style, we made it again a tight-packed adventure, from dawn to dusk the whole week. I liked everything about Oregon, exquisite mountain lakes, snow-capped mountain peaks, endless pine forests, old-fashioned coast sides, migrating wildlife, and for the first time in my life, I saw grey whales! If I had chance, I’d like to go there again in a different season maybe.

The first part was the volcanic legacy of central Oregon that skirts lakes, diverse wetlands, and scenic ranches, all against the stunning backdrop of volcanic landscapes. We first passed Mt. Shasta in northern California and extended north into Lava Beds National Monument, a land of turmoil that holds more than 700 lava tube caves.  It’s nothing but a reminder of how terrifying but amazing the natural world is.

[Up] Lava Beds landscape from fire watchman house

Then there is the world-famous Crater Lake, and some of the nation’s richest bird refuges, which owes its majesty and abundant life to the rich volcanic past and ancient natural forces.

[Up] America’s deepest lake, Crater Lake

Words just can not  do justice to my first breathtaking look at Crater Lake, which was created by the eruption and collapse of Mt. Mazama. It is the bluest  and mirror like lake I have ever seen.

[Down] Cleetwood Cove trail, descending to the shore of Crater Lake

[Up] Cleetwood Cove boat landing at Crater Lake

[Down] water level recording lodge on Crater Lake

[Up left] morning drew drops on the pine tree

[Up right] Cleetwoods, on the shoreline of Crater Lake

[Up] Lower Klamath Wildlife Refuge

Our following incredible journey then began in Bend, the hub of central Oregon. Round a bend, we found Mr. Bachelor looming larger than life – and found its image perfectly reflected in a mile-high lake around another bend – and we finally understood why it’s named the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway. It was caused by volcanoes again! The eruptions took place during the Ice Age under the glaciers and offered melted holes of ice, which is now the region’s more than 100 large and small lakes.

[Up] a ranch in the dawn mist, with mountain ridges in the background

[Down] the begining of the Cascade Mountains and Lakes

[Up] South Sister, mirrored in the perfect calm of Sparks Lake

[Down] Elk Lake campground, covered with morning fog

[Up left] boat deck

[Up right] a bright yellow maple

[Up] matching the hatch at Crane Prairie Reservoir

[Down] A meadow near Hosmer Lake, with South Sister in the background

Enjoy and stay tuned next for the Northern Oregon and Pacific Coast!

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  1. Spectacular images — thank you for sharing.

    Crater Lake is particularly spooky. But a super-cool place…


  2. Love the photos. So sharp and naturally dramatic.

  3. your pictures are very beautiful

  4. Lovely!

    Both photos and trip details remind me of my times through Oregon, though I never caught Crater Lake!
    Thanks for posting!

  5. Wow, spectacular pictures! This place has it all–views, nature, water, animals! Congrats on being freshly-pressed….thank you for sharing:)

  6. Loving your post and your photos – Congrats on being FP! I have to agreed that the beauty of Crater Lake should be experienced up close and personal – just breathtaking:)

  7. Wow. so beautiful. It’s so beautiful that it doesn’t look real. thank you for sharing. I enjoyed it.


  8. Nice pictures it allows me to fantasize about greater things in life

  9. I’ve been to a lot of the areas you mentioned, and you capture them beautifully with your pictures!

  10. tumblr101

    holy crap thats amazing. nice photography

  11. Wow! Extremely gorgeous pictures. My favorites are the last picture with the tall grass in the foreground framing the south sister, a mountain that resembles Mt. Rainer in Washington, and the pictures of the wildlife refuge, with what looks like forest fire smoke in the background ,and the cattle on a misty morning. I grew up in Klamath Falls and these pictures capture the amazing beauty of south central Oregon.

  12. You put very profitable message for us.i like your ideas .
    Thanks for your post.

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  13. Herman Wilson

    I grew up in NPC and Alturas….thanks

  14. The one called Crane Prairie Reservoir looks like an oil painting :) Nice pics!

  15. Really really really stunning photos, the lake one in particular
    Great post!

  16. Beautiful pictures! My favorites are the water level recording lodge, the bright yellow maple & South Sister reflected Sparks Lake. Magnificent!

    Thanks for sharing, & congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  17. These are amazing pics, especially the water ones.

  18. Beautiful pictures! I took a road trip in August from Los Angeles up to Seattle. We spent a few days and nights exploring Oregon and it was just gorgeous. Sunny the entire trip, too!

  19. Hey guys,
    I feel incredibly exciting and happy reading all of your comments!
    You guys are amazingly encouraging and wonderful!
    I will keep posting the 2nd part of our adventure soon. Can’t wait..

  20. Spectacular pictures! I used to live in Bend and spent every day in awe of my gorgeous natural surroundings. I couldn’t get over the many different types of topography that Oregon has to offer…you really captured them nicely! Thanks for the great post!

  21. Okay, seriously? Crater Lakes looks amazing…why have I not been there yet??

    Gorgeous photos and congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! :)

  22. What inspiring and awesome photos. Makes me want to go there.

  23. Nice, oh so very nice, chalk me up on the “I really like it” side of the scale. As winter comes across the plains, and the wind develops a bite to it, cuts as sharp as a brand new razor blade, I will look back on your photo’s and wish I were there, on the Great American Volcano Tour of 2011.

    Good job!


  24. Shegz Afolayan

    It looks nice and warm and beautiful! :)

  25. absolutely gorgeous. I hadn’t heard of crater lake but it is amazing.

  26. I love Lava Beds! It is so much fun! Crater Lake is beautiful too, and also looks gorgeous when there is snow.

  27. excellent photos!I like all of them.

  28. I grew up near Crater Lake and you did a wonderful job of capturing it’s beauty. Thank you for the reminders of home.
    -Bethany Jeffery (Okinawa, Japan)

  29. Really like the closing photo. Congrats on getting ‘pressed’!

  30. Pacific northwest has its own unique nuance, and you captured it well! Thanks for sharing this!

  31. Okay, I’m sold, I plan on seeing Crater Lake soon. Stunning photographs!

  32. nice article…i like it…thanx for share

  33. nice&beautiful photos

  34. OOh my gosh!! The pictures are beautiful..so awesome!!! :-D

  35. It looks stunning. Beautiful images. Maybe a trip to Oregan is in order

  36. Awesome image of the day that i see.

  37. Joe Labriola

    Wow, I’ve seen some beautiful mountains in Colorado, but these are incredible! Hope to visit someday!

  38. My brother lives in Medford Oregon and just sent me pictures of Crater Lake that he had just visited last week. He was very impressed. Your pictures are fantastic!

  39. Pics are really great….

  40. I love crater lake and the way they changed it’s color, may be you should visit these lakes someday http://goo.gl/G3nZh (red, black and white lake)

    • That’s really really cool. I know some smaller bodies of water change color because of algae and what not. It’s amazing that these lakes can be so close and have such different chemical changes happening. Thanks!

  41. Thanks for sharing. I learned a few things from reading this.

  42. Wow, thank you for such beautiful pictures!

  43. These photos are spectacular! I have lived in Oregon my entire life I have just recently been able to visit Crater Lake. I didn’t spend nearly enough time there but it was a beautiful sight nonetheless. Very cool post.

  44. Mikalee, why is Crater Lake spooky?

  45. y8

    nhin no thật đẹp , thật là tuyệt . nó luôn đẹp trong măt mọi người khi nó yên bình còn khi nó giận giữ thì nó thật là đáng sợ.

  46. JR

    Love that you are taking a trip through Oregon! I grew up in Oregon and live in Portland when I’m not at university or what not. Currently living in London – and I appreciate how similar the weather is to Portland.

  47. Good writing and fantastic pictures. Coming from the UK I didn’t know that Oregan was so shaped by volcanic activity. I found your blog very interesting. Thank you.

  48. Thanks for renewing my memories of many trips to Bend and the surrounding area. So many of the people who live there are too busy to appreciate the beauty around them. And it becomes such an every day thing that they would not think to post pictures. Sometimes it takes a travler just passing through. Thanks for sharing your trip and thanks for your pics! :)

  49. Stunning! Nature amazes me.

  50. Thanks for the beautiful pictures. Crater Lake is so beautiful and the pictures are very calming.

  51. What an amazing trip that must have been.

    Thanks so much for sharing some of your beautiful images.


  52. Lily Kwok

    Wow! Such beautiful photos. Loved it!!

  53. thanks for posted nice pictures.

  54. Love the majesty and crystal blue waters of Crater Lake! . . . Beautiful photos!


  55. Beautiful photos. I’d only been to Crater Lake in person during my 9-month Klamath County residency back in 1994/1995. Congrats on getting ‘Pressed’!

    @juliacastorp, I think knowing that the explosion of the magnitude that caused the volcano to erupt, leaving it’s top as an island (Wizard Island), is spooky because you’re standing on the edge. Also, at least back when I lived near there, the deepest section of the crater still hadn’t been reached & measured. It’s THAT deep. I guess you have to visit Crater Lake to understand.

  56. I have always thought of a vacation as having white sandy beaches, but these pictures open up a whole new level of beauty.

    Fantastic shots and scenery

    Thanks for that

  57. I like the one with the cattle. All are lovely.

  58. Great pictures of some gorgeous places. We just visited Crater Lake a couple years ago, and it’s beauty is spectacular – you did a great job capturing that beauty. My daughter has been living in Portland for about 5 years now, and whenever we have time, we like to drive up there from San Francisco just so that we can explore Oregon’s beauty. I think I still have LOTS to explore thanks to your photos…can’t wait for Part 2.

  59. My fathers favorite place on earth and the last trip we took together before he passed over. I thought I had taken every angle there was but your photos were breathtaking and unique. Love your writing as well. Thanks for the share. I have written but not published a book of my fav photos from this lake…will share with you if you like.

  60. Noelle G.

    Your photographs are incredible! Now you’ve got me aching to go there ^_^

  61. Really beautiful photography. My boyfriend and I enjoyed a trip that included Mt. Shasta and Crater Lake a year ago in September. I’m looking forward to your next installment. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

  62. Fantastic photos. Reminds me (again) how little so many of us know about the US and how beautiful it is. Suck it Europe :-)

  63. Is the water in Crater Lake really that blue?


    • @ Ronnie
      Yes. It is really that blue. Actually, the lake was once called “Blue Lake” the early years when it was discovered before they changed its name later on.

  64. Amazing photos! I can imagine how spectacular the scenery must have been! Have to say..cant believe its not photoshopped! =D

  65. Love your photos! My daughter and her family live up near Portland. We love driving through Oregon! We’ve done the waterfalls and the lighthouses… our first whale sightings were off the Oregon coast, too! Your photos are so beautiful!

  66. Beautiful blog :)

  67. Wow, what stunning photos. The place looks incredible and so vast. Never been to US, so don’t really have idea of scale but your pix helped me out there. Gorgeous!!

  68. Wow, what an adventurous trip u had… Thanks for sharing g8 collection of pics :)

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  71. beautiful! the last two look like paintings. always wanted to explore Oregon, but have only been to Portland. I hear the coast is beautiful.

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  73. Great Blog i come again to your blog …..:)
    see this

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