By Dan Shryock
Crater Lake National Park is Oregon’s most beautiful destination. But don’t think it’s time to head home once you leave. There’s plenty to do and see in northern Klamath County, an area local residents like to call “Crater Lake’s backyard.”
Here are some ideas on how to maximize your visit. For even more information, visit this website.
Zip along the line
You’re gliding above the trees, the wind is in your face. You feel like you’re flying but you’re actually attached to a cable zipping as far as a quarter mile at a time.
Crater Lake Zipline, Southern Oregon’s newest outdoors destination, is a thrill ride that rivals our region’s famed river rafting. Crater Lake Zipline is located on the west side of Upper Klamath Lake about 30 minutes from Klamath Falls on Highway 140. The zipline is operated by ROE Outfitters, the Klamath Falls company that has guided fishing trips, rafting trips and more for years.
Enjoy the lake, paddle the Canoe Trail
Several outdoor activities in the north county center around Upper Klamath Lake. You can fish or enjoy one of the nation’s best bird watching areas. Many people take advantage of the calm waters to canoe or kayak along the shore.
Paddling is so popular, in fact, that a canoe trail was created to help find your way. Just follow the signs.
Yes, the Upper Klamath Canoe Trail is a 9.5-mile route along the Upper Klamath Wildlife Refuge. There are trail signs sticking out of the water, pointing the way. The serene trail stretches between the Rocky Point and Malone Springs boat launches on the lake’s west side.
Learn more about the Canoe Trail: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Upper_Klamath/canoetrail.html
The lake is 8 miles wide and 25 miles long so it’s big enough to accommodate many activities at the same time. Brisk afternoon winds appeal to sailors. Easy access, warmer water, consistent conditions and nice weather attract windsurfers and kite boarders away from the internationally recognized yet chilly Columbia Gorge.
Here are some resources on Upper Klamath Lake.
> Rocky Point Resort provides canoes and kayaks so you can enjoy the canoe trail. There’s also a full-service marina.
More information: www.rockypointoregon.com
> Harriman Springs, also on Upper Klamath Lake, provides boat and canoe rentals.
More information: www.harrimansprings.com
> Lakeshore Landing offers kayak rentals on the lake. These are sturdy sit-on-top ocean kayaks for all levels. Drop-ins are welcome.
More information: www.lakeshorelanding.com
Up on the mountain lakes
At the north end of the county are Odell and Crescent lakes, located near Willamette Pass in the Cascades Range. These lakes are convenient for anyone driving in from the Willamette Valley on Highway 58. Resorts at both lakes provide access for water skiing, wake boarding, knee boarding, tubing, fishing, or simply boating with family and friends. Boat and equipment rentals are available on both lakes.
Cycling options galore
Northern Klamath County has some great cycling roads. Best known is the ride up to Crater Lake National Park, a rigorous climb to the rim of the lake. Another is the ride around the rim itself.
Local cycling enthusiasts have put together a network of routes so you can put together your own plan starting anywhere in the county. You can enjoy the flat roads north of the lake or seek out harder rides if you choose.
Here’s more information about road, mountain and gravel cycling in Klamath County: https://www.southernoregon.org/cycle-klamath
Ride on Train Mountain
Train Mountain Railroad is a unique family destination near Chiloquin. Here a dedicated group of railroad enthusiasts have constructed a working railroad – on scaled 7.5-gauge track – that runs for 36 miles across more than 2,200 acres of pine forest.
You can see these small trains in action. You can talk with the men and women who passionately care of them or take a self-guided tour. Visit the Train Mountain Museum.
Klamath & Western Railroad uses two miles of the track and provides free rides on Saturdays from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekends.
Books, art and casino recreation
When you want to wind down, drive into the small town of Chiloquin. There you will find Two Rivers Village Arts, a small community art shop supporting both local artists and the community. The center provides a gathering place for artists to work, share ideas and sell their works.
Two Rivers Village Arts supports Chiloquin Visions in Progress, a local non-profit that promotes a healthy social, economic, natural, and cultural environment. It’s located at 140 S. First St. 541-783-7780. More information: www.chiloquinvisions.com/aboutcvip/tworiversvillagearts.html
Looking for an old-school book store? The Chiloquin Arts Center is old school and proud of it. It’s right around the corner from Two Rivers Village Arts and sells new and used books, vinyl records, CDs and vintage furniture. You’ll find Chiloquin Arts Center at 414 Chocktoot St. 541-783-2022. No website; it’s old school.
Kla-Mo-Ya Casino, just south of Chiloquin, provides excitement, lights, sounds, payouts and prizes. The casino, owned and operated by the Klamath Tribes, is an intimate place known for its friendly staff and clean environment. It is open 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year and offers more than 350 slot machines, blackjack tables and a gift shop.
Its location, nearly 30 minutes north of Klamath Falls, makes it an important place for travelers on Highway 97. The Crater Lake Junction Travel Center is your last chance for gas no matter what direction you’re headed. The Travel Center is open 24 hours and offers competitive fuel prices, free Wi-Fi, and a convenience store.
More information: http://www.klamoyacasino.com
Dan Shryock is an Oregon-based journalist and travel writer. When he's not visiting Southern Oregon or sampling local wines, he can be found cycling throughout the state.