Enjoy These Epic Day Trips Around Klamath County
If you’re planning a visit to Klamath County, chances are good you’ll base yourself in Klamath Falls—home to the most lodging options, traveler services, and highest concentration of year-round attractions in the area.
And while we’re excited for you to visit Klamath County’s largest city, there’s plenty to love in the outlying areas—including alpine lakes, high-flying fun in the woods, rugged lava flows, and even miniature railroads.
So we’ve put together a round-up of ideas for eight epic day trips around Klamath County, complete with drive times from Klamath Falls and suggestions for how to enjoy each outing as you explore the many wonders of our scenic region.
Enjoy a Horseback Ride at Running Y Resort
Get away from the city—and into the Klamath County wilderness—with a guided horseback ride through Jensen Equine and the Running Y Resort. Just a 15-minute drive from downtown Klamath Falls, the resort’s equestrian options include something for riders of all experience levels—such as private guided trail rides of up to two hours, lessons tailored to your skillset, four-day youth camps, and classes for younger riders. Trail rides are offered year-round and follow a path near the shores of Upper Klamath Lake, with plentiful bird-watching opportunities along the way.
If you have your own horse and want to know where else to ride in the area, check out our guide to horseback riding around Klamath County.
See the Treetops (and More!) with Crater Lake ZipLine
You’ll find several days’ worth of outdoor adventure at Crater Lake ZipLine, which sits just a half-hour west of Klamath Falls in the Fremont-Winema National Forest.
As the name implies, the park’s main attraction is a guided tour of the forest canopy across nine ziplines and two bridges suspended high above the ground; dramatic views include the rim of Crater Lake, snow-capped Cascade peaks, and the wider Klamath Basin. Kids can have their own fun with a shorter tour, while outdoor enthusiasts of all ages can pair their thrills with a quiet kayak tour of nearby Upper Klamath Lake. Back on solid ground, the park’s other offerings include ax throwing lanes, a few taps of craft beer from local producers, and a food cart dishing healthful fare.
Learn more about the experience with our insider’s guide to Crater Lake ZipLine.
Marvel at Crater Lake
The southern entrance to Crater Lake National Park—Oregon’s only national park and one of the top things to do in Klamath County—is just one hour northwest of Klamath Falls (the nearest city). The heart of the park is its namesake lake in the Cascade Range, which sits inside a volcanic caldera that formed when Mount Mazama erupted 7,700 years ago. Make the most of your day trip by following Rim Drive, a 33-mile road that circles the caldera rim and affords scenic views around seemingly every bend. If you have time, other highlights include several miles of hiking trails, boat tours around the lake (and to Wizard Island), and spying the spike-shaped fumarole vents on the slopes of the former Mount Mazama.
Itching to extend your stay? We don’t blame you—so we’ve rounded up the 10 best places to stay overnight in and around Crater Lake.
Drive and Hike Along Oregon’s “Highway of Waterfalls”
If you decide to spend a night or two at Crater Lake National Park, we’d suggest adding a day trip to your stay—this a westbound jaunt along Highway 138, also known as “Oregon’s Highway of Waterfalls.”
The highway, which follows the North Umpqua River as it heads into the heart of the Cascade Range, earns that moniker for the sheer volume of dramatic waterfalls along the road—many of which can be accessed via short hikes. Some of the numerous highlights include Toketee Falls (which tumbles through a basalt gorge and is among the most photographed waterfalls in Oregon) and Watson Falls (the highest waterfall in southern Oregon).
Best of all, you can reach the westernmost of the waterfalls (Susan Creek Falls, which plummets 50 feet over a volcanic rock wall) in just about an hour—sans stops—from Crater Lake National Park’s northern entrance.
Hike Through History at Lava Beds National Monument
Near the southern edge of the Klamath Basin, just a 45-minute drive from Klamath
Falls, it’s easy to hike through thousands of years of explosive history at Lava Beds National Monument.
The monument sits on the Medicine Lake Volcano and is named for the jagged lava beds covering much of its surface. The main attractions at the monument are its numerous lava tubes and caves—many of which can be accessed by hikers of all skill levels. Mushpot Cave is an easy cave to visit, with paved paths and lighting throughout, and other highlights include Skull Cave (with a mouth that measures at least 50 feet tall) and the cavernous Sunshine Cave.
Above ground, give yourself time to head out on one of several hiking trails and peruse the park’s visitor center, which discusses the area’s natural history and its more recent past (such as the Modoc War of 1872-73); if necessary, you can check out flashlights and hardhats at the visitor center before heading underground.
Start planning your trip to the monument with our round-up of the five best caving experiences at Lava Beds National Monument and our guide to everything you should know about caving at Lava Beds.
Get on the Water at Odell Lake
When summertime temperatures start creeping up, there’s no better salve than a day on the water, so make plans to unwind at Odell Lake Lodge & Resort this summer. And at just over 90 minutes from Klamath Falls, it’s easy to while away a lazy afternoon around the picturesque lake.
Sitting on the southeastern shore of its namesake lake in the Cascade Range foothills, the lodge and resort offers a variety of watercraft rentals—from laid-back choices (like canoes, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and paddle boat rentals) to more thrilling rides (including jet skis and motorboats). The resort even offers pontoon boat rentals for larger groups and is one of the rare marinas in Oregon to provide sailboat rentals.
Anglers, meanwhile, love fishing in Odell Lake’s deep waters, which can reach 300 feet; mackinaw, kokanee, whitefish, redband trout, and bull trout all call the lake home. Gear rentals, as well as guided fishing trips, are available.
Hop Aboard the Train Mountain Railroad
Looking for a day trip the whole family will love? Make the quick, half-hour drive from Klamath Falls to the Train Mountain Railroad Museum—an attraction whose numerous accolades include the world’s longest miniature railroad.
The Klamath County institution promises more than 35 miles of 7.5” gauge track that twists and turns through a massive forest of ponderosa pine—a joyous ride for kids of all ages—as well as a comprehensive collection of more than three-dozen cabooses, box car and tank car displays, and interpretive information on Oregon’s railroad history. If you’re wondering about what to expect, see why families love the Train Mountain Railroad Museum.
Go Wildlife-Watching at Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Refuge
Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, just one hour north of Klamath Falls, sits at a nexus of all that makes the region so special: The marshy refuge affords views of nearby Cascade peaks, is surrounded by grassy wetlands and peaceful forests, and borders countless acres of Klamath Basin farmland.
Savor that unusual experience with a day at the refuge—where you can paddle its quiet waters (bring your own craft), watch for migrating waterfowl (including ospreys, great blue herons, and American white pelicans), try to spy wildlife (from river otters to Rocky Mountain elk), and stretch your legs along 10 miles of forested hiking trails.
Learn more about the refuge with our breakdown of four reasons you should visit Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Refuge.