Oregon National Parks and Monuments
In addition to the gorgeous rivers and forests found in Southern Oregon and Northern California, there are also some very special places put aside for the enjoyment of all as National Parks and Monuments. A handful of these are conveniently located in proximity to the rivers we run, making for great extended adventures. Van tours, shuttles, hikes, and camping are available. Call us for details.
Crater Lake National Park - Oregon
Crater Lake - Like No Place Else on Earth
Crater Lake has inspired people for hundreds of years. No place else on earth combines a deep, pure lake, so blue in color; sheer surrounding cliffs, almost two thousand feet high; two picturesque islands; and a violent volcanic past. It is a place of immeasurable beauty, and an outstanding outdoor laboratory and classroom.
For a brief time each year, Crater Lake National Park emerges from winter hibernation to bask in summertime glory. Early season visitors are often surprised by the amount of snow which remains long into months which are considered mid-summer in most parts of the country. Even most park roads are closed into the late spring which gives a picture of the far more dominant winter scene sensed even in June and early July.
During this brief summertime window, one magnificent day typically follows another. For visitors, these few months provide the best opportunity for a comfortable visit. Many interpretive programs are offered which encourage a deeper understanding of the lake and the park. Hiking and camping are popular activities. Fishing for trout and salmon in the lake is also a favorite pastime.
The lake was formed after the collapse of an ancient volcano, posthumously named Mount Mazama. This volcano violently erupted approximately 7,700 years ago. That eruption was 42 times as powerful as the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens. The basin or caldera was formed after the top 5,000 feet of the volcano collapsed. Subsequent lava flows sealed the bottom, allowing the caldera to fill with approximately 4.6 trillion gallons of water from rainfall and snow melt, to create the seventh deepest lake in the world at 1,932 feet.
Rolling mountains, volcanic peaks, and evergreen forests surround this enormous, high Cascade Range lake, recognized worldwide as a scenic wonder. On summer days, neither words nor photographs can capture Crater Lake's remarkable blueness. For much of the year, usually October to July at higher elevations, a thick blanket of snow encircles the lake. Snowfall provides most of the park's annual 66 inches of precipitation.
Facts and Figures
Crater Lake National Park is one of the country's crown jewels. No place else on earth combines a deep pure lake, so blue in color; sheer surrounding cliffs, almost 2,000 feet high; a picturesque island and a violent volcanic past.
As the Rogue River headwaters drain from the Crater Lake area snows, a sidetrip to Crater Lake is a great companion to a Rogue trip. Less than two hours from our Gold Hill location, our comfortable air conditioned vans make a great way to tour the Crater's Rim Drive. Let us do the driving; we'll let you take the pictures!
Redwood National Park - California
Adjacent to the Smith River National Recreation Area, the Redwood National Park is a natural companion to a Smith River trip! Van tours, hikes, and camping are all excellent ways to experience the lofty skyscrapers of the forest, the Redwoods.
Redwood National Park contains the tallest living things on earth, evergreen trees that grow to 350 feet. The park was established specifically to protect these trees, because it is only here and in Oregon that they now survive. Descendants of the giant evergreens that grew during the age of the dinosaurs, redwoods thrived in moist temperate regions of the world. They take 400 years to mature and some of the survivors are more than 2,000 years old. Their thick, sapless bark protects them from fire, but landslides and wind can topple old trees. The Indians used fallen redwood trees to build canoes and houses; commercial logging began during the gold rush era. Logging of redwoods continues and is debated by the timber industry and environmentalists. The trees stand as majestic reminders of the slow evolution of nature. Redwood National and State Parks represent a cooperative management effort of the National Park Service and the California Department of Parks and Recreation. Together these parks are a World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve protecting resources cherished by citizens of many nations.
In addition to the giant trees, wildlife abounds as well. We could drive to Klamath River Overlook, a prime spot for watching the gray whale migration and for looking at other marine mammals and a host of seabirds any time of year. Or we could stop at the Big Tree Wayside and watch for Roosevelt elk grazing in the prairie. The marine and land life are equally remarkable, in particular the sea lions, the bald eagle and the endangered California brown pelican.
Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument - Oregon
The shuttle to and trip down the Upper Klamath takes us right through the heart of one of America's newest National Monuments, the Cascade-Siskiyou. This is our backyard, where our guides live, work, and play. No one is better suited to make your vacation to this rarely visited area more enjoyable or educational. Be it camping, hiking, or van touring, let us make your Upper Klamath trip even more memorable with an extended stay in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument!
A Monument to Biodiversity
The convergence of southwestern Oregon's Cascade, Siskiyou and Klamath mountain ranges in the 53,000-acre Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument creates a landscape of exceptional geologic complexity and a gateway to one of the great reservoirs of biodiversity in North America. The Monument's rich forests shelter the threatened Northern Spotted Owl, its pristine streams flow with trout found nowhere else, and its lush wildflower meadows are alive with a diversity of butterflies nearly unsurpassed in the United States.
The Monument is an ecological meeting of the north, south, east and west. For example, species typically found east of the Cascades--such as pygmy nuthatches and kangaroo rats--share habitat with western species such as rough-skinned newts and northern spotted owls. The southwestern portion of the Monument is comprised of the eastern end of the Siskiyou Mountains which are unusual for their east-west orientation. The Siskiyous bring together plants and animals from the high deserts of the Great Basin with species from the wet forests of the Pacific Coast.
For the visitor, the Monument affords great possibilities--from fishing in Jenny Creek, to backcountry camping in the solitude of the Soda Mountain Wilderness Study Area, or exploring some of the Monument's unique geologic formations, like Pilot Rock, the basaltic remnant of volcano.
Human History in the Monument
Native peoples have lived in the Cascade-Siskiyou area for thousands of years. Archeological digs have uncovered nearly 100 dwelling and root gathering sites, as well as spiritual sites. Ancient ruins are typically in areas where open meadows and game, such as deer and elk, still exist. The Monument also contains remnants of more recent pioneer era history, like old mining cabins and part of the historic Oregon/California Trail, and cairns, blazed trees and cast-off ox shoes.
For that, we can look to the plain language of the proclamation President Clinton signed for the Monument on June 9, 2000:
"With towering fir forests, sunlit oak groves, wildflower-strewn meadows and steep canyons, the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument is an ecological wonder, with biological diversity unmatched in the Cascade Range..."
"This rich enclave of natural resources is a biological crossroads-the interface of the Cascade, Klamath and Siskiyou ecoregions in an area of unique geology, biology, climate and topography..."
"The Monument is home to a spectacular variety of rare and beautiful species of plants and animals, whose survival in this region depends upon its continued ecological integrity."
The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument is the only national monument in Oregon managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the first set aside to protect an area's biological diversity. Plant communities there represent vegetation types found in the Great Basin, Cascade and Klamath Mountains. A rare diversity of butterflies occurs there, along with 300 other animal species, including unique fish and mollusks, as well as a number of rare plants.
The Pacific Crest Trail runs through the monument area.
Oregon Caves National Monument - Oregon
Not far from the California border is one of Oregon's more secret places. It's Oregon Caves National Monument, located enroute to the Smith River. The Monument land is steep, folded deeply into the heavily-forested Siskiyou Mountains. The 4,000 ft. elevation means that deep snow closes the Monument each winter. Although the monument is small in size (about 488 acres), it is rich in diversity. Above ground, the monument encompasses a remnant old-growth coniferous forest which harbors a fantastic array of plants, including a Douglas-fir tree with the widest known girth in Oregon. Below ground, is an active marble cave created by natural forces over the course of millions of years in one of the world's most diverse geologic realms.
The Monument is located in the heavily wooded Siskiyou Mountains of southwest Oregon. The climate of the region is strongly influenced by the ocean which contributes to relatively mild summers and winters as well as 50 inches of rain per year. The elevation at the Visitor Center on the monument is 4,000 feet and resulting in comfortable summer temperatures and snowy winters.
Step back in time and tour the passages inside Oregon Caves. Exploring the caves has been a tradition for more than a century. All tours are Ranger-lead and your guide will take you through the marble corridors and discuss the caves' natural and cultural history.
All tours through the cave are provided by Park Services guides for a fee. Please be sure to read the Cave Tours page to make sure that the tour is right for you and your family. The tour is considered moderately strenuous and children must be at least 42 inches tall to go on the full tour of the cave. Children who are less than 42 inches can go on a free family tour into the first room of the cave.
About the Tour
The 90 minute tour is not for everyone. The cave is located at 4,000 feet elevation and slightly higher carbon dioxide levels in the cave can make breathing even more difficult. While there is a paved trail in the cave, the route is still challenging. The cave tour is considered moderately strenuous and is not recommended for people with heart, breathing, or walking problems. The half mile (1 km) route includes more than 500 stairs, a total climb of 220 feet (67 m), most of which are steep and uneven. If you have back problems you may have difficulty with some of the stooping and bending as the tour passes through low and narrow passageways.
The first room of the cave is accessible to visitor using canes or wheelchairs and for children who are too small to go on the entire tour. Children must be at least 42 inches tall and be able to climb a set of test stairs unassisted to go on the full tour of the cave. Children may not be carried through the cave and childcare services are not available. A parent or guardian must accompany the child at all times.
There is only one emergency exit in the cave, which is a natural cave opening about one-third of the way through the tour. Emergency phones are located in the cave in case of injury and other emergency.
One of the National Park's Great Lodges, the historic Chateau is a six-story hotel located on the Monument. It has 23 rooms and the large lobby on the fourth floor of the building contains a huge double fireplace of marble construction. The lodge is scheduled to be open late April through late October. These dates are subject to change. The Chateau is operated by Oregon Caves Outfitters, a non-profit organization. For information and reservation, phone (541) 592-3400 or visit their website at oregoncavesoutfitters.com.
The cave interior is beautiful marble, immense, placid, and very chilly, with temperatures hovering just above 40 degrees. Water is the architect of the Cave, and frequently the deep quiet is broken by faint sounds of underground water as you move through the passages, vaults and chambers. Oregon Caves are formed of a different rock than most of the World's famous caves, which are made of limestone rather than of the harder recrystallized limestone of Oregon Caves
Smith River National Recreation Area - California
The Smith River is one of the crown jewels of the National Wild and Scenic River System, which recognizes and protects rivers across the country. More than three hundred miles of the Smith River System are designated wild and scenic, more than any other river in the country. The emerald-green Smith River flows freely and naturally, without a single dam, for its entire length -- the only major system in California to do so.
The Smith River National Recreation Area (NRA) is located in the northwest corner of California and is managed by the Six Rivers National Forest. The NRA was created by Congress in 1990 to protect the area's special scenic value, natural diversity, cultural and historical attributes, wilderness, wildlife, fisheries, and the Smith River watershed's clean waters. The Forest Service has been designated as the steward of the NRA to provide recreational opportunities and to manage this diverse area for all of its valuable resources.
The Wild and Scenic Smith River is seasonal with highlights in each season. When winter rains arrive, the three forks and countless creeks drain a beautiful, rugged terrain of steep, rocky canyons, and torrential rains may bring the almost immediate whitewater conditions so avidly sought by kayakers. The Smith River abounds with Class IV and V rapids on all three forks, and has many miles of steep creeking waters. Its 145 miles of navigable whitewater require a fairly high degree of technical skills by the boater. Once the three forks join to form the mainstem, the land levels out and the last 16 miles to the ocean present less demanding conditions (level I-II in medium flows). Just past the confluence of the Middle Fork and South Fork, the river leaves the NRA and flows through the Redwood National and State Parks, with stunning views of the giant redwoods and great summer floating in Class I and II waters. The Smith River offers surprises for even the most seasoned boater --- some rapids may change little for many years, others are different every year and each season offers something new.
Other recreational highlights along the Smith River include fish watching, steelhead and salmon fishing, waterfalls, swimming or snorkeling in deep natural pools of clear and emerald water, tubing and rafting, hiking along back-country and wilderness trails, and mountain biking. Wildlife and beautiful flowers are abundant --- Pacific dogwoods, azaleas, rhododendrons, ladyslipper orchids, lilies; and in the fall, stunning fall colors and berry picking.
The Smith River National Recreation Area invites you to a scenic playground encompassing more than 450 square miles of densely forested mountains, pristine botanical areas, remote wilderness landscapes, high-mountain lakes, and rocky canyons. Weaving through this natural wonderland are over 300 miles of the Smith River and its forks and streams, plus 75 miles of hiking trails and several hundred miles of roads, including 27 miles of the Smith River Scenic Byway.
Created in 1990, the 305,000-acre Smith River National Recreation Area highlights the Smith River - one of the largest Wild and Scenic River systems in the United States, the 27-mile Smith River National Scenic Byway, 350 miles of backcountry roads, four campgrounds, a boat ramp, a botanical area, and more than 65 miles of designated trails. It's an area rich in cultural history, with examples of Native American culture, 1930's Civilian Conservation Corps architecture, early mining, and mule train days. Many wonderful examples of the CCC structures can be seen at the Smith River Visitor Information Center and at Patrick's Creek Campground.
Rogue Klamath River Adventures enjoys exploring our nation's special places. Let us help you make your experience a comfortable and special time.
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