By Bonnie Glidewell

Sometimes you just need to get away. Get away from the hustle and bustle of your everyday life, chores, responsibility and everything else. Get away with your family, a best friend, your special someone or even alone. A new top-favorite for me to do this at is the Running Y Ranch Resort, located just minutes from downtown Klamath Falls and less than an hour jaunt from Crater Lake National Park.

This past weekend I was able to spend three nights at this stunning lodge nestled amongst the trees, hidden in the rolling hills, between bodies of water and their award-winning golf course. This resort and mini-community, highly resembles the oh-so popular Sunriver Resort which is located right outside the city of Bend, Oregon. I would say the main difference between the two is that Running Y operates at a fraction of the price and does not even have one round-a-bout. Which as you know, makes the getting around part much easier than in Sunriver. The 3,600 acres of the Running Y offers everything you need for a low-key stay which will not disappoint. It has a grocery store and coffee shop, shopping, multiple restaurants, Oregon’s only Arnold Palmer golf course, a full service day spa, a sports center (including an indoor pool, hot tub and sauna) with plenty of exercising opportunities (ranging from the gym, fitness classes, basketball and tennis courts), an event center and meeting space for business or pleasure, trails galore for hiking/biking/walking/running/birding (either along ridge tops, the shore line of the Upper Klamath Lake, marshes and the Skillet Handle), a covered ice arena, sledding, horseback riding and more! Heck, you can even enjoy crafts, bocce ball, badminton and ping pong. So, pick your poison as Running Y has it all.

If you are looking for a day trip or two, you have a handful of options at your fingertips and less than a stone’s throw away. Crater Lake National Park, Lava Beds National Monument, adventures with ROE Outfitters or Crater Lake Zipline, Steen Sports Park (skateboarding), Moore Park, Collier Memorial State Park, Klamath Basin Wildlife Refuges, Winema National Forest, Lake of the Woods or the good ol’ downtown Klamath Falls. Looking for something indoors? Enjoy performing arts at the Ross Ragland Theater, head to the Klamoya Casino or even catch a flick at the Pelican Cinemas. Whatever you do, stop in and say hi to our knowledgeable tourism friends at Meet Me in Klamath.

Explore history at one of the few museums telling the Klamath story. You can choose from the Klamath County Museum, Baldwin Hotel Museum or The Favell Museum (which are all located within the downtown city limits) or venture out a bit more over to the Fort Klamath Museum. You can also do a self-guided tour (either by foot or via vehicle) and get a feel for the old logging town that began booming in the 1920’s to become Oregon’s fourth largest city. Make sure to keep your eyes on the historic buildings on Main Street for some of my favorite things: murals which tell their own story through art.

Now, let’s talk about what brought me to Klamath. Birding, birding and more birding! Well, okay so maybe only one eight-hour day of birding but that was more than I had experienced to date. Did you know that an estimated one to two million ducks and geese migrate through the Klamath Basin each October and November? Over 500 bald eagles (the largest concentration in the lower 48 states) and thousands of swans, geese and ducks come to feed in the refuge marshes and nearby farmlands. Later in the spring, shorebirds and grebes come to nest along the waterways and raise their young. This is one of the many reasons that the Klamath Basin, located on the Pacific Flyway, is known as a world-class birding destination which offers the annual Winter Wings Festival every February. This is the exact reason why I made a long weekend getaway plan for my hubby and I. Read more about the festival in Part 1 of this blog here.

We had less than 72 hours in Klamath Falls and wanted to make the best of it, so we did. We started the weekend off by checking into the Running Y in the afternoon, and had aspirations of going into town to start our weekend explorations, but after seeing the resort grounds for the first time I could not bring myself to leaving. But we did bring ourselves to the oh-so inviting hot tub. A room with a view it was, and the plush bed after a delicious meal at the Ruddy Duck took over my energy boost and brought me into a very relaxed state I could not overcome. They made it all too easy to not leave, so that is exactly what we did. The next morning, we woke up and hit the town with vibrant energy and an empty stomach. Being an avid user of Tripadvisor, I decided to go with the highly rated and locally owned Klamath Grill. We filled up on Chicken Fried Steak and their famous graveyard omelet. That and one big ol’ cup of hot cocoa stacked with whipped cream. The prices were right, service was great and the meals were plentiful and definitely home-cooked!

As we wobbled out of the restaurant we decided the first thing we needed to do was walk. So, we walked all around downtown and visited the Ross Ragland Theater (which sadly was in between shows so we will need to go back for that popular experience) in addition to old historic buildings, hiking trails, fantastic murals, antique shops, museums and the Veterans Memorial Park. After we burned off one meal and were ready for the next, we headed over to the Klamath Basin Brewing Company. This restored building once was known as the creamery, and locals still refer to it as that. Don’t let the old cow sign in the back confuse you. If you see this, you have arrived at the right place! Make sure to grab a beer sampler (especially for their vanilla porter) and ask about seasonal on tap.  If you are a pulled pork fan, I highly suggest that particular sandwich with garlic fries. The mouth-watering sauce on the meat is absolutely one of a kind. Do all of this by their fireplace and you will be one happy camper.

The next morning, we woke up early in a flurry and went outside to a fluffy white surprise. Snow! Thankfully, I had done my research and the 8 inches of snow still pounding sideways at 6am did not stop us from joining our bird watching tour. We met the big yellow school bus at the local university and hopped on with about 20 others who were definite bird enthusiasts. With thousands of dollars in photography equipment surrounding us, nice heated transportation with automatic chains and packed lunches we were on our way! The North Basin Winter Tour was hosted by the very knowledgeable and friendly Marshal Moser. This Certified Wildlife Biologist has been birding in Oregon since the 70’s, and specializes in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, wetland and water issues, endangered and invasive species, fishing, birding, grazing, native plants and landscaping. Thankfully, us amateurs (meaning, just my husband and I) were in good hands. He took us all around the top birding locations along the Upper Klamath and Agency Lakes, as well as to a private residence where we were introduced to over a dozen exotic parrots from around the world. Thank you, Karl Anderson, otherwise known as the “Oregon Birdman”. With hot coffee and donuts in hand, I listed to the bird enthusiasts surrounding me shout out dozens of varieties which I could hardly keep track of. My head bounced back and forth as I felt like a frenzied cat jolting with enthusiasm of seeing all the birds. However, I think people watching was just as fun. Just like kids in a candy shop…

This 8-hour tour gave me great insight and appreciation to Mother Nature’s greatest gifts. No matter where one lives, a gentle reminder of the beautiful area in which we live is something to not take for granted. And if you do not live in a beautiful place, make sure to go to one (especially in Southern Oregon). The roads were paved with Douglas Firs and Ponderosa Pines, as well as snow, snow and more snow. The bus creeped along the un-plowed snowy roads so us watchers could witness a pair of Hooded Mergansers, which hadn’t been spotted in many moons. Not to mention the relaxed bald eagles displaying their vocal cords for us nearby birders. On our way to Fort Klamath we even saw a coyote! Bald Eagles, Canada Geese, European Starlings*, Mourning and Eurasian Collared-Doves, Black-billed Magpies, Red- tailed Hawks, Red-winged Blackbirds, California Quails, Tundra Swans, Mallards, American Crows, Dark-eyed Juncos, Belted Kingfishers, sparrows (Song, White-crowned, Golden-crowned and White-throated), Ospreys, Rough-legged Hawks, Scrub Jays, Spotted Towhees and even Ruddy Ducks (like the Running Y restaurant). And I am sure, the list goes on. I once heard a wise man say “the trouble with birds is that they have wings”. Meaning, no matter how hard I tried to capture the moments with my very insignificant camera, I knew the guy next to me was the one who I would be requested photos from in the long run.

As we explored the wetlands, Marshal explained the history of the Upper Klamath and the amazing facts of the steelhead and trout living in our majestic waters. Did you know that a spawned out Redband Rainbow was found to be 40 inches long and over 30 pounds in weight? That is the biggest known in the world, even when compared to Russia! He also gave us multiple tips of areas and roads around the Klamath Basin to go birding and at different times of the year. But, that is for you to learn next year when you attend the Winter Wings Festival and find out for yourself.

That evening, all tuckered out and ready for a hot (and spicy) meal, we had dinner at the local hot spot Thai Orchid Café. Having been to Thailand, one could say that I am a bit of a Thai food snob and want-to-be connoisseur. I kid you not, this was some of the best Thai food I have had since the cooking class I took in Chiang Mai, Thailand.  Thai iced tea, drunken noodles, pineapple fried rice (with added veggies) and even mango sticky rice. Let me tell you, we were in absolute heaven! This dinner was purely authentic. To the staff, I offer a sincere “kop kun ka”. Otherwise known as, thank you.

I would also like to offer many thanks to the staff at the Running Y for their extraordinary customer service and the Winter Wings Festival for hosting my husband and I. We feel so blessed to live less than two hours away and only up over the hill from the great town of Klamath Falls. We will definitely be coming back, and suggest that you visit too!

 

Did you know?

  • Klamath Falls has its own airport?! Yes, it does indeed. Not to mention the Amtrak railroad making it a great hub to get in and out of with minimal effort.
  • The town was founded in 1867, and originally named Linkville. In 1893, the name was changed to Klamath Falls, referring to a series of cascading falls and rapids on the Link River (a mile-long stream located through the heart of downtown).
  • With an urban population of 42,000 the city Is the largest body of fresh water in the Pacific Northwest.
  • The Klamath Basin enjoys nearly 300 days of sunshine each year, averaging 18 inches of precipitation and 38 inches of snowfall.
  • During the summer months, the White Pelican (the city’s mascot) can be spotted with a wingspan just under that of the California Condor, which is 110 inches at length!  

 



 

Do you have an idea or event you want to share with Bonnie for her Out & About column? Send her your thoughts.