Our Top 5 Oregon National Parks, Part 2

Last week we started to tell you about our favorite national parks. We planned on just including five national parks but we got so excited we added a bonus trip. In this blog we are going to explore Crater Lake, possibly the most famous of Oregon’s National Parks, and an Oregon Trail trip that’s been on our bucket list for years. As a bonus we’ve included Mt. Hood National Forest because it is amazing.

Crater Lake National Park

The fourth entry on our list is only accessible in the summer months as this area gets an average of 44 feet of snow per year. Crater Lake is a reminder of the transformative power of nature. A volcano blew its top, and then over the centuries filled with rainwater and snow melt, becoming our nation’s deepest lake. The view of the lake as you drive around its rim is breathtaking: pine trees and crystalline cobalt-blue water. It is one of the coolest national parks you can visit. Park your RV, hike the one mile trail down to the lake and take a tour of the lake by boat. If you grab the morning tour, stop and hike to the peak of Wizard Island. There you will get a 360-degree panoramic view that can’t be beat. Bring a change of clothes because no summer trip to Crater Lake is complete without jumping in. Keep in mind that the trail is fairly steep—it’s been said that going back up the trail is like going up 70 flights of stairs—but there are lots of benches to stop and rest on.

Oregon National Historic Trail

The National Park Bureau has made a park out of the Oregon Trail. It runs from Kansas to Oregon. Some of us here at Guaranty grew up playing the Oregon Trail computer game, so when the opportunity came up to plan a trip along the Oregon Trail, see the wagon ruts and look at a lot of America that has remained unchanged since the eyes of the pioneers looked upon it, we all started to plan a long RV trip. After all, the covered wagon was the original towable RV! The Oregon National Historic Trail has about 175 different attractions to see in six states, so we realized that we’d need to sit down and plan out just what we wanted to see. The good folks at the National Parks Bureau have made an interactive map just to help you do that. At the end of the trail is the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center in Baker City, OR. Or you could head to Farewell Bend State Recreation Area in Ontario (we know it is not a national park) where the pioneers took a last look at the Snake River before heading to Oregon City.

Mt. Hood National Forest

For our bonus trip, we’ve included Mt. Hood National Forest, which technically isn’t a national park, but it should be. There are hundreds of places to park your RV on Mt. Hood. It all depends on where on the mountain you want to be. Our favorite camping grounds are just outside Estacada, Oregon where you drive slowly up the mountain’s southeast side. The drive in has an amazing view of the Clackamas river as it descends from the snow melt, making it’s way towards the Pacific Ocean. Here there are spots to park your RV next to some tree-lined lakes high up on the mountain. If you have a camper or smaller tow trailer, there are spots to set up next to the river. August is the perfect month for camping in Oregon. It may be a bit cooler up there on Mt. Hood, but nothing can compare to the shock of the snow melt river as you jump in to escape the 90-degree heat.

We know there are many Oregon parks that didn’t make the list. But that it the best thing about the RV lifestyle—you can explore all over and find your favorite parks. If have any questions, contact us.

Photo: Bureau of Land Management

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