Anyone who has had the pleasure of visiting or living in the states of Oregon and Washington know they are unparalleled in their beauty. Both states have breathtaking coastlines, impressive mountains and lush forests. Along with all the natural beauty you will encounter many unique sights, and interesting people. I could fill a whole book with scenic drives and places you should visit. Here are just a couple of places not to miss in these two beautiful west coast states.
My suggestion of a must see scenic drive in Oregon is located in the southern center part of the state. Crater Lake, located in Crater Lake National Park about 80 miles northeast of Medford, Oregon. Famous for its deep blue water this lake is over 1,900 foot deep at its maximum point. It was formed by the collapse of the volcano Mount Mazama. It is the deepest lake in the United States, and the second deepest in North America. Once you see it you will be in awe of its beauty, and sheer enormity. With its sheer cliffs surrounding it and wizard island perched in the middle it truly can take your breath away.
It is off the beaten path but if you choose to go you will not be disappointed it is mesmerizing and unique. To get to Crater Lake National Park the closet airport is in Klamath Falls,60 miles away, or in Medford which is 80 miles away. Be aware that the park’s North entrance is closed in the winter and Spring. The dates vary but are usually from early November to June. To get more detailed information you can call (541) 594-3000. The west and south entrances are open year round, including winter. The fee to enter the park is $10.00 per car and $5.00 per motorcycle.
Many only spend the day driving around and taking in the view at Crater Lake. If you decide to stay at the Lodge there be sure you reserve a lake view, it will not be worth staying overnight if you are facing the parking lot. If you go in the summer the drive all the way around the lake is open, with the snow in the winter access can be more challenging but it is so beautiful. If you only plan on staying for a day trip I suggest spending the night in nearby Ashland. Only two hours south of scenic Crater Lake you will find many places to stay and restaurants. If you visit anytime from February through November you can attend their famous Shakespeare Festival. Here you can visit their chamber of commerce and see year round attractions. There are so many interesting activities, and scenic drives nearby you will probably find too many things you want to see.
Called The Evergreen State with good reason, Washington has millions of acres of national parks, forests and wilderness areas. One of the most unusual places in the United States to visit is Olympic National Park. Over 95 percent of the park is designated as wilderness. Any park destination can be reached by U.S. 101. The park is west of Seattle on the Olympic Peninsula. Since most visitors come in from the Seattle area, you need to cross the Puget sound by ferry, cars are allowed and then you will be able to get onto U.S. 101. The length of your drive around the park can vary greatly from one day to three or more depending on how many sights you stop to take in, and if you want to camp.
The park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year unless there are emergency conditions. If you like to check conditions ahead of time you can call, (360) 565-3131 for recorded information on any closings or problems. Entrance is $15 per car to get into the park. If you only have one day I suggest you do not miss the Hoh Rainforest. With over 12 feet of rain per year the west side Valley’s are the best example of a temperate rain forest in North America. Just 30 minutes from the city of Forks, Washington you will find this one of a kind wonder.
Many probably already know Forks is the home to all the Twilight movies. So if visiting be prepared for all the Bella, Jacob, Edward and vampire mania. They even have a map here, you can find places of interest to visit. You can see the Cullen house, the field where they played baseball, Forks High School, and first beach located in La Push, all which were featured in the movie. Once in the rainforest you will be amazed by all the shades of green, and the lushness of the flora and fauna. This rainforest is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and just 20 minutes off 101. They have a visitor center, nature trail and picnic area to enjoy.
If you time it right and leave the rainforest heading northwest on the 101 in about a hour and a half you can be at Rialto Beach. You can enjoy sunset on the beautiful Pacific Ocean, another amazing stop on your scenic drive. You will be amazed by the rocky sea stacks, the rocky beaches and tide pools. After exploring you can find a place to sleep either at the Mora campground, or in the nearby town of Forks if you prefer a hotel. If you have time to continue your journey around Olympic National Park there is still much to be seen. Here you can get maps and detailed information on more unbelievable sights. No matter what time of year you visit you will be amazed at the beauty. If possible I suggest going at different times of the year, the change of each season brings many changes to enjoy.