7 MUST-DO ADVENTURES YOU CAN ONLY HAVE IN KLAMATH
Wizard Island, located in Crater Lake, is one of the area’s most unique outdoor experiences. Shahid Durrani
Located in south central Oregon, Klamath County offers something for outdoor adventurers of all stripes. Home to Crater Lake National Park along with hundreds of miles of hiking and cycling trails, the state’s largest freshwater lake, and a wide variety of scenic peaks that offer some of the state’s best views, Klamath is a premier destination for anyone who enjoys spending time outside. With 300 days of sunshine a year, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to explore the region. So whether you want to make the most of a trip to Crater Lake, spot nesting bald eagles, or go deep into the woods on a rail-to-trail conversion, here are seven exciting adventures you can only have in Klamath.
1. VISIT A VOLCANO WITHIN ANOTHER VOLCANO
When Mount Mazama erupted in the Klamath Basin roughly 8,000 years ago, the volcano’s walls collapsed and left behind a caldera that, after filling with years of rainfall and snowmelt, created what we now know as Crater Lake. A cinder cone then rose through that *caldera after the eruption, eventually forming Wizard Island near the lake’s western shore—and making it possible for modern-day tourists to visit *a volcano within another volcano.
There’s only way to explore Wizard Island—via a round-trip shuttle or boat tour of Crater Lake—and it delivers an experience unlike anything else in the Klamath Basin.The trip gives visitors three hours to explore the island. Fumarole Bay offers excellent fishing opportunities, while the one-mile Wizard Island summit hike invites visitors to peer inside the cinder cone’s 90-foot-deep summit and take in sweeping, 360-degree views of the deepest lake in North America.
Note: Accessing Cleetwood Cove, where all boat tours depart, involves a 1.1-mile, 700-foot hike—and the Wizard Island hike gains almost 750 feet in roughly one mile. Bring plenty of water, and give yourself time for breaks during the strenuous hike.
2. VISIT OREGON’S ONLY NATIONAL PARK
Even if you don’t stop at Wizard Island, Crater Lake National Park—Oregon’s only national park—is the must-visit stop in the region. Whether you’re into thigh-burning hikes or prefer the comfort of your car, there’s no wrong way to experience Crater Lake. Here are a few favorite adventures:
- Rim Drive delivers 33 miles of jaw-dropping views of Crater Lake, with plenty of pullouts and viewpoints for Instagram-worthy photos.
- Watchman Peak towers over Wizard Island and offers the park’s best sunset views.
- Ranger lead free snowshoe hikes through an idyllic winter wonderland between November and April each year.
- The 2.5-mile Mount Scott Trail takes hikers to the highest point in Crater Lake National Park.
- The patio at Crater Lake Lodge invites visitors to unwind, put their feet up, and watch the sunset from the comfort of a rocking chair.
3. TAKE A ZIPLINE TOUR
There’s no bad way to experience the Klamath Basin, whether from viewpoints on a trail, the seat of a canoe, or the saddle of your mountain bike. But if your inner daredevil wants to see the basin’s many natural wonders fly by on an airborne adventure, look no further than Crater Lake ZipLine. The thrilling, three-hour tour makes use of nine zip lines that stop at two sky bridges and cover more than 1.5 miles of cable—with two zips more than a quarter-mile long. The trip includes views of the region’s most notable landmarks, including the Fremont-Winema National Forest, Upper Klamath Lake, nearby Cascade peaks, and the rim of Crater Lake. For the younger set, the Sasquatch Hollow Kid’s Zipline Adventure is designed for kids aged 5-12. The challenge course features ziplines, bridges, and other obstacles to give children an excellent adventure above the ground.
4. GET CREATIVE AT ARTS ON THE FLYWAY
The Klamath Basin has earned a reputation for its unmatched birding opportunities, but a thriving art scene makes Arts on the Flyway an essential part of the regional experience. Taking place each summer in downtown Klamath Falls, the region’s largest arts festival offers activities, displays, workshops, and more for the whole family.
Browse the many arts and crafts vendor booths, sign up for a workshop, unleash your inner da Vinci at one of the festival’s interactive art stations, sample some of the region’s best libations in the beer garden, grab a bite to eat at the on-site food carts, and marvel at live music, dance, theatrical, and circus performances.
And while there’s a lot to love about browsing the various vendor booths, Arts on the Flyway encourages the whole family to get involved through various workshops. Past workshops have included homemade ice cream and soda-making demonstrations, classes on color wheels and color theory, puppet-making sessions, and more.
5. GO CANOEING ON THE LARGEST FRESHWATER LAKE IN OREGON
There are few better ways to experience the Klamath Basin’s expansive scenery and abundant wildlife than from the seat of a canoe in Oregon’s largest freshwater lake. (No, we’re not talking about Crater Lake.)
Rather, Upper Klamath Lake stretches out for 25 miles and showcases the feathered fowl for which Klamath is known, groves of aspen and pine trees, marshland, nearby Cascade peaks, and more.
Take it all in from along the 9.5-mile Upper Klamath Canoe Trail, where two creeks and a shallow channel connect to the larger lake. The trail takes visitors through the Upper Klamath National Wildlife Refuge and is the only approved method for exploring the refuge; heron, osprey, and bald eagles are common sights throughout the trail’s many diverse ecosystems.
6. ATTEND THE NATION’S OLDEST BIRDING FESTIVAL
The Klamath Basin may well be the bird capital of Oregon. The region is famous for its wintertime population of bald eagles, owls, and other waterfowl—so it’s no surprise Klamath Falls hosts the oldest birding festival in the United States.
The four-day Winter Wings Festival takes place every President’s Day weekend at the Oregon Institute of Technology and hosts more than 40 activities for birders and photographers. The fun includes field trips, photography discussions, author and expert presentations, workshops, a photo contest, family activities, and more.
7. CYCLE THE LONGEST PARK IN OREGON
The Klamath Basin has become a premier cycling destination in recent years, and the OC&E Woods Line State Trail provides a perfect introduction to the region’s varied landscapes and natural wonders. At 109 miles long, the rail-to-trail conversion starts in Klamath Falls and follows the path of the Oregon, California, and Eastern Railroad before ending in the lush Sycan Marsh.
Highlights along the OC&E Woods Line State Trail include views of Mt. Shasta in Klamath Falls, gravel paths among juniper and sagebrush at Olene Gap, the rushing Sprague River, and a trip across the 400-foot-long, 50-foot-high Merritt Creek Trestle.
Written by Matt Wastradowski for RootsRated Media in partnership with Discover Klamath Visitor and Convention Bureau.