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Umpqua Hot Springs

The Umpqua National Forest is full of beauty, it’s much like a smaller Columbia River Gorge in my opinion.

While taking Highway 138, to or from Crater Lake, it runs along the spectacularly turquoise North Umpqua River.

There are plenty of natural wonders along this highway, but the Umpqua Hot Springs is one to be recognized above all else.

It is fairly simple to find, if your heading east on highway 138 from Roseburg, it’s just past mile marker 59, follow signs to Toketee Falls.

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The hike to Toketee falls is about a two mile, fairly easy hike. There are plenty of viewpoints, but you do have to use a rope to get down to the bottom to get the best views.

There will be warning signs telling you not to go down the rope, so whether you do so or not is up to you.

To get to the hot springs, you will continue straight on this road for another two miles, it will break off at one point, stay to the right. You will continue down that road for another two miles and the parking lot for the trail head will be on the left. The trail can get fairly steep, there are rails to help you up the steepest points.

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It is possible the road will be blocked off, it was when we went! If there is significant snow, you will have to park at the closed gate and hike the two miles to the trail head.

I personally think that the snow made the hot springs even more beautiful.

Even in the snow, these hot springs were still plenty hot, there is about a total of seven or eight pools, they get colder as you go down.

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AirBnb Eco-Cottage – Portland, OR

Portland is such a unique city. It has the perfect combination of outdoors, great food and shops. It’s close to the coast, to the forests, to the Columbia River Gorge and so many other gorgeous Oregon natural gems.

It can be hard to find the right combination of nature and the city life, so you don’t have to drive thirty minutes to get to downtown during your stay in the Portland area. Which is why I recommend this gorgeous eco-cottage found near the Pearl District of Portland.

This eco-cottage is very different in such a beautiful way. If you like tiny house living, this place is perfect for you!

This is an Airbnb, so you do need to book it here.

The home is very small and simple, it is almost like glamping; all easily connected to the outside with lots of natural lighting. The bathroom is located outside with lots of wood and rock, a very spa retreat-like feel.

The toilet is very different and has specific rules for use, but it used absolutely no water!

There is a hot tub and an outdoor shower in an area that contains plenty of bamboo and wood, it seems like your showering in Thailand. The hot water is fantastic, we were there in November and it wasn’t too cold outside! But there is also a space heater to help keep it warm outside.

This space is behind the owners home, but very private. It has a wooden gate all around, withholding an overgrown, garden oasis. We saw plenty of squirrels and raccoons wandering around.

Though we were in a neighborhood in the city, it was also quiet. There was plenty of nature around us and even a park across the street. Some bikes and a canoe are available to use during your stay as well.

This retreat has no t. v but plenty of interesting books; which I loved. It truly forces you to unwind and experience something different than the traditional hotel.

My stay was pure bliss.

If you don’t already have an AirBnb, use this link to create yours and you will get a $40 credit!

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Grifford Pinchot National Forest

This is among the most beautiful places to explore nature in Washington. Filled with gorgeous mountains, inactive volcanoes and luscious forests. This place is worth a long camping trip in the summer, or even the long drive to see some of it’s wonders in a day trip. The hikes and waterfalls in this area are endless because of all the mountains in the area.

Here are some of this forests best sites.

Mount Saint Helens Area

This inactive volcano is famous for it’s incredible destruction in 1980, you can see incredible views of this volcano and the effects of it’s eruption and learn more about it. It’s pretty amazing.

Ape Caves

The ape caves are truly unique, make sure to bring a flash light and warm clothing, because it is pitch dark! It’s quiet the adventure to work you way through this two and half mile lava tube, the longest continuous cave in the U. S!

Lava Canyon

This is a round trip, five mile hike, so not too bad. It leads to some spectacular views and Lava Falls.

Windy Ridge Viewpoint

This is the easiest viewpoint to see Mount St. Helens, it’s a stunning view where you can also see Spirit Lake. There is also a hike along Windy Ridge called Loowit trail, a 28 mile round-trip hike that has gorgeous waterfall along the way. Make sure to research required permits for hikes such as this in the area.

Mt. Adams Area

This area is particularly known for climbing Mt. Adams, it is a a 10 mile, round trip hike with a 4500 ft elevation gain, and leads to some amazing views!

Waterfalls

With the Columbia River Gorge being on the opposite site of this area, it has no shortage of gorgeous waterfalls, some of my favorite in the state are in this area!

Lower Lewis Falls

I believe this to be the most beautiful waterfall in Washington, it flows so perfectly and is wide, and it is easy to get to the bottom of the falls for amazing views and a swim 🙂 The long drive is beautiful and it is a short quarter mile hike that allows every viewpoint.

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Panther Creek Falls

This waterfall is simply magical, it trickles down a long wall of rock and you can even explore the river before it falls as well. There is access to the bottom of the falls as well.

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Spirit Falls

This waterfall is a gem, bright blue with a tremendous fall. It’s a little hike, about a mile and can be quiet muddy. All the more of an amazing nature experience!

Falls Creek Falls

There are plenty of views during the 4 mile round trip hike to this waterfall, including a suspension bridge and a partial hike along the river.

This forest is one of Washington’s best, so if you’re looking for a place to explore within the state, you can get the best of both world’s in this green forest between three mountains.

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Top Ten 101 Destination Stops

If you’re planning a 101 coastal road trip, I deeply recommend doing it right. That means starting from the 101 no one thinks about, right off the coastal road.

I’ve done this 101 road trip, and took my sweet time along the process. Not only this but I quiet literally live right off highway 101 in southern Washington, so I know the famous highway well!

Here are the must stop visits while traveling this amazing highway, from north Washington to California.

Hood Canal

This area often goes overlooked, it is not the 101 right next to the ocean, though it is close, this area is beautiful! It is right next to the Olympic Rainforest and some small towns by the bay. The famous Vance Creek Bridge is hidden in this area. A partial amount of this bridge has been torn down now but if your feeling reckless, you may still be able to explore part of it.

This area also is covered with amazing hikes and waterfalls and is one of the only places on the coast where you can harvest your own oysters! Stop at Hama Hama to get the beginning of your seafood experience and enjoy some wine and music by the bay in Hoodsport.

Some of my favorite waterfalls include Rocky Brook Falls, Murhut Falls, Hama Hama Falls and Vincent Creek Falls (High Steel Bridge). Read all about this area here.

Cape Flattery

This area is the northern tip of the U. S but not very popular, which is good for us! The trail is well maintained and the views are gorgeous. Read more about it here.

Ruby Beach

This is the most stunning beach in Washington, right off 101, the drive to this place is covered with spectacular beaches, but this is the one you’ll want to stop at. There’s tide pools to explore and the beach goes on forever. This beach is most famous for it’s large rock on the beach with a hole in the middle that I didn’t manage to get a picture of. You can read more about it in the link above as well.

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Quinault

Quinault is a special, quaint place where you can experience the world’s only temperate rainforest that is completely untouched. There are many nature trails in the area from quarter mile hikes to backpacking trips and waterfalls right along side them. There is also the world’s largest Spruce Tree here as well and the Hoh Rainforest is also close by if you can’t get enough of the luscious greenery.

Fort Stevens State Park

Fort Stevens is located right outside of the beautiful small city of Astoria, OR, most famous for the movie The Goonies. What makes this park so special is the ship wreck of Peter Iredale, where you can see the iron remains of this ancient ship right on the beach, accessible to the public. It’s quiet the site, see more about it here

Canon Beach

I think when people are planning 101 trips, their first destination is Canon Beach, so I hope all the posts above have caught your interest to see before northern Oregon. Canon beach is a small beach town with an open bottle policy, meaning you can drink beer wherever you’d please. Most famous for Haystack rock on it’s beach, where you can climb around it and view the tide pools. It also has a lot of puffins at the top of the rock.

It’s a popular destination spot, but also not incredibly crowded.

Cape Kiwanda

This place was one of my favorite experiences along our 101 travels. Located in the middle of Oregon in the town of Pacific City, Cape Kiwanda is what it means to travel 101. You show up at this beach, to a Haystack Rock way in the distance, you are able to climb a sand hill to your right which leads you to Cape Kiwanda. You can walk all along this Cape and experience amazing views. There are some dangerous areas but they will give you the best Instagram shot! Many wander past the warning signs to get the best photo, but because of the Oregon Beach Bill, I do not believe you can get fined for it.

You can also take the Three Capes Scenic Route before Cape Kiwanda to experience even better views, but we missed the turn, so keep a look out! Devil’s Punchbowl is nearby as well, though we didn’t go there. More on Cape Kiwanda here.

Samuel H. Boardman’s State Scenic Cooridor

This is located in southern Oregon in a small city called Brookings, right before you hit California. It is several different stops off the side of the Highway, all absolutely gorgeous. They meet up with the Oregon Coast Trail, the scenic points that I thought were most amazing was Natural Bridges, where you can hike your way to the top of these magnificent arches and Arch Rock Point.

The Redwood Forest

Of course, the Redwood Forest is a must-see along 101. It is located in northern California and is quiet the enchanting adventure. There is so much to see here, there are several different areas to go, we went to the Jedidiah Forest, which was amazing, but simply driving through these areas is worth the drive.

Big Sur

Unfortunately, we were not able to experience Big Sur, California, as when we went they had an enormous landslide right before Big Sur on Highway 101, but it is still on my bucket list! I recommend stopping at Pfieffer Beach. I’ve heard that the sand turns purple on some sunsets and it is quiet magical!

Simply driving down this highway is spectacular! There are views of the ocean right on the side of the road so pull over as much as you can and enjoy the views! There are of course many more places of interest, but these are my top ten. So pull over as much as you can and maybe spot some whales in Oregon!

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Exploring The Columbia River Gorge

I’ve drove through this amazing gorge in the past and gazed upon it’s beauty but never really stopped and explored the area, so that’s exactly what we did last weekend and it’s one of my favorite locations in both Washington and Oregon, as it is located on both sides.

We made our way to the Columbia River Gorge from the Oregon side, which has more of the popular views and waterfalls. I recommend taking the Historic Highway, just the drive is gorgeous and you will find many waterfalls along the way that I cannot find the names to, as they are a little smaller, but it is a must do. If you have an R. V, it may not be quiet safe for you to drive it though.

The first official stop we made was Latourell Falls, one of my favorite Oregon waterfalls, you can get right up to where the water meets. It’s so powerful you can feel the spray without being too close, this thing is massive!

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We saw a trail that led further down that I definitely recommend taking, the entire area is gorgeous.

There are many other stops along the Historic Highway, Multnomah Falls, the tallest waterfall in Oregon, was unfortunately blocked off during the season, so we couldn’t get any good shots, but it is still quiet the view. When on the Washington side of the Gorge, you can still see this massive waterfall on the other side of the Columbia River.

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We didn’t get photos of Bridal Veil Falls or Horsetail Falls because that part of the Historic Highway was closed when we were there, but we will be sure to be back to these natural wonders.

When driving along the Gorge, make sure to look onto the Washington side of the river to see an enormous waterfall going down into the river, I’m not sure of the name of this but it is absolutely breathtaking.

As I said before, you will run into waterfalls along this highway every few minutes and each one is worth stopping to see, some even without names. For a full list of the popular waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge, click here.

We crossed over the Bridge Of The Gods, which links the Oregon portion of the Gorge to Washington and is a two dollar toll bridge that is pretty awesome.

Once we got onto the Washington side, we found a local secret waterfall that took us on a National Forest Development road all the way up a mountain where it began to snow! By the time we left this area, we had about two feet of snow!

The waterfall we saw was Panther Creek Falls and it was amazing, it was a short hike downhill with an overlook, it also has a little rock climb down to the lower level. It has a rope to help you down and I definitely recommend it.

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Afterwards, we started heading towards our Airbnb towards Washougal and stopped at Cape Horn, right off the highway and it is STUNNING! You can see the entire Gorge and even spot the waterfalls on the Oregon side.

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In Washougal, we stayed at a Treehouse we found on Airbnb, and it was perfect for our lifestyle! I definitely recommend Airbnb for travelers, it allows you to meet new people and discover new creative homes and places.

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Washougal Treehouse. Click here to sign up for Airbnb and get $40 off your first stay.

We are going to be heading back to this area soon, the summer would be more ideal for this area so we wont run into snow again. But after doing some research, we realized that there is an incredible amount of hidden waterfalls on the Washington side of the Gorge that we must see! We already have a wish list.

We used the book, Curious Gorge, to help us find all these waterfalls and it was extremely helpful and will be our guide for our next adventure here.

If you’d like to check this book out, click here.

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Cape Kiwanda – Pacific City, Oregon

Cape Kiwanda is my favorite cape on the Oregon coast, and that says a lot because Oregon is full of beautiful coastal lines.

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The best thing about the Oregon coast is it’s Oregon Beach Bill, which allows you to wander anywhere your heart desires on the beaches, as the beaches belong to the people and are protected from being owned or industrialized. So many signs can say to not go beyond this point or something, but it’s more of a warning.

Cape Kiwanda is located in Pacific City, a small, simple and beautiful town that I love so much! The beach is a very public beach and not hard to find, it also has Pelican Brewing (which has great beer) right on the beach, which is a perfect place with outdoor seating to enjoy the view of haystack rock and the sunset.

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There’s also a good amount of waves to surf, which many people do here. If your entering the beach, you’ll see a huge sandhill to the right, climb this and you will be on top of Cape Kiwanda.

Once you get on top of this sand hill, there is so much to space to wander, and so many views to see, make sure not to miss a single one and to experience it as best you can, ignoring the warning signs!

Also, make sure to take the scenic view to get to Pacific City, which allows you to see two other capes before Cape Kiwanda, it’s called the three capes scenic drive. You’ll take a right about 20 miles before Pacific City to take this route, there will only be one sign, so much sure to keep a look out for it.

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Map location and directions here

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Crater Lake, Oregon

Crater Lake is an absolute must-see location in the Pacific Northwest and one of my favorites! When I first saw Crater Lake with my own eyes, I could only describe it as heaven on Earth. This could have very well been because of the timing of which I was there, which I recommend to anyone wanting to visit there. I was in Crater Lake in July, early in the morning, with a blue sky and clouds within it. The water was incredibly still and the water was a beautiful reflection of the snow of the crater and the sky above it, so perfectly that it was difficult to tell where the water began and the sky started.

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Crater Lake was once a volcano, called Mount Mazama. This volcano’s eruption was so enormous, that it caused the volcano to collapse into itself, leaving a giant crater, almost 2,000 feet deep. This crater filled with water through rainfall and melted snow, making it insanely clean and therefore a gorgeous, bright blue.

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There are many different areas to view the crater and there is one area that you can actually get into the water, this place is called Cleetwood Cove and is about a 20 foot cliff. This jump is a must do! Seeing the snow-covered crater from the crystal clear water is like pure magic and the water isn’t as cold as you would expect. You have to hike about a mile downhill to reach this area, the hike down is wonderful and the hike up can be a little difficult, but well worth it.

The main area of Crater Lake has a lot of information to learn everything about the area, as well as buy souvenirs and some fancy food, which wasn’t as expensive as I expected, with the view that we had.

It is, till this day, the most beautiful place I have ever seen, if you are anywhere in the Pacific Northwest, this is a place that you must see, and I recommend it in the early morning in good weather, and to stay throughout the day.

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Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor – Brookings, OR

Brookings, Oregon is one of my favorite locations in the PNW, for simple reasons such as the beauty and the both Oregon and California coastal feel. Brookings is on the beautiful southern Oregon coast, just thirty minutes from The Redwood Forest in California.

The main attraction here is the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor, which is several stops right before you enter into the city off of the famous highway 101. It is a total of 12 miles along the Oregon coast trail and all views can be accessed through simply walking the trail. If you have planned this out beforehand, this would be a gorgeous hike.

These stops are full of incredible views of natural arches and bright blue ocean waters. Some of my favorites are the Natural Bridges, where you can hike on top of the arched rocks themselves, Arch Rock Point, Spruce Island Viewpoints and Cape Forrelo Loop. There is a total of ten hikes and viewpoints. If your doing any of these trails from right off the freeway, the hikes are short, magnificent and not difficult at all.

 

See it on Google Maps here.

 

 

 

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Fort Stevens – Warrenton, OR

The Oregon coast contains so much beauty, all the way from north to south. The interesting thing about the beach of Fort Stevens in Warrenton, OR is that it contains history that stands strong in it’s place.

Fort Stevens is in the small city of Warrenton, between the lovely Seaside and Astoria, OR near the state of Washington. The main attraction of this area is it’s beach, where the iron skeleton of Peter Iredale ship still remains. This outline of history is so close to the beach that you can climb upon it when the waves go back into the ocean that gives you a beautiful site of the Pacific Ocean in a whole new way.

Though this is the main attraction, there are many batteries to be seen in Fort Stevens as well, this place is really full of gorgeous history.

 

Find the location here.

 

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The Tamolich Blue Pool

The Tamolich Blue Pool is one of the Pacific Northwest most beautiful natural wonders. When I first saw photos of this place, I was intrigued right away, but couldn’t decide for myself whether the photos were photoshopped or not.

Seeing this magical place for myself, I can say that you cannot describe it’s beauty, it just must be seen.

The Tamolich Blue Pool used to be a waterfall, Tamolich Falls, but after a nearby volcanic eruption that left lava rock covering the waterfall, leaving the water flowing out the bottom of where the waterfall was. Because of this, it slowed down the water, creating a still pool that allows you to see the beautiful, blue water of the Mckenzie River.

The trailhead was a bit tricky to find. The main trail, called the Mckenzie Trail is about a six mile hike to three different waterfalls, including the Tamolich Blue Pool. With preparation, this would be an amazing hike. Though, if you just want to see the blue pool, it is located off the Mckenzie Highway down NF-730.

The trail is two miles long and is not a difficult hike. Most of the time you will be alongside the Mckenzie River, so the entire hike is very beautiful. The trail is very popular, so if your trying to hike with not too many people, I would recommend not going during the weekend.

Once you arrive where the pool is, it will be below you and it will blow your mind! There are many places to cliff jump into the pool, varying from 20 to 30 feet. The water is plenty deep to jump into confidently, though incredibly cold.

You can also hike all around the pool unto the other side where you can get right next to the water without jumping at all. I recommend both experiences!

If your looking for a new nature trip in the beautiful state of Oregon, travelling along the Mckenzie Highway to the blue pool will never be a regret, as there is so much to see, including Sahalie Falls and Koosah Falls.

Find directions here.