7 MUST-DO ADVENTURES YOU CAN ONLY HAVE IN KLAMATH
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. Take an Audio Tour Focusing on the Modoc Indian War
The Modoc War officially began on November 29, 1872 because of a misunderstanding between Modoc people and the United States. Settlers, who began moving through Modoc territory as early as 1843, set off conflicts that led eventually to war. Taking into consideration the number of people involved, this was one of the costliest wars in our history.
Today, you can join Modoc descendant Cheewa James on a riveting and epic driving journey through the historic sites of the Modoc war, starting in Klamath Falls, Oregon to the Lava Beds National Monument just over the border into California. Along the way you’ll discover the roots of the Modoc War, hear Modoc and settler stories, and learn what life was like during this turbulent episode in American history, all from the comfort of your vehicle.
To complete the tour visitors can download the VoiceMap™ mobile app, search for The Modoc War: A Homeland Lost, download the tour route to their mobile device, and finish by following step-by-step instructions from app. This interactive history tour is for the young, and the young at heart.
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 in partnership with Discover Klamath Visitor and Convention Bureau.