Having left Crater Lake National Park very early we completed the East Rim drive, checking out the Phantom Ship overlook on our way.
From here we headed onto Highway 46 and the Cascades Lakes National Scenic Byway. This was a very picturesque drive with varying changes in landscape and large areas of lava rock.
We drove through the Mount Bachelor ski resort – no snow then but it was forecast heavily for the coming weekend!
Our plan was then to head around the Mackenzie Scenic Byway but the bottom section, Route 242, was closed due to forest fires. Never ones to give in (!), we just drove around the top three quarters and headed to Clear Lake and back to see the 3000 year old submerged forest at the bottom of the lake. It was too late in the day when we arrived, but if you have time you can take a paddle boat on the lake to see this in more detail. Instead we had a walk along the boat moorings where you could see down into the waters. This is a spring fed lake filtered through the lava – they are the clearest waters we’ve ever seen.
We then headed to Sisters, a cowboy desert town, had a very tasty ice-cream then went down to the viewpoint on Highway 20 to view the Three Sisters mountains as the sun set.
The next morning we made a brief detour – following a chat with a local, to the Head of the Metolius River. Here the river emerges out of the ground – quite a novelty to actually see the start of a river! You can’t really get the impressiveness from the picture, it’s the idea that the water just emerges, creating the head of the river that’s impressive.
It was time then to head east towards the colorful rock formations of the John Day Fossil Beds, Painted Hills Unit. We did the Carroll Rim Trail, an easy 1.6 mile return trail with fantastic views.
We then went on to do the Painted Cove Trail and the Painted Hills overlook trail. All gave very different and interesting views of this strange landscape. At times it reminded us of our visit to Badwater Basin in Death Valley.
From here we started to head north to Hood River and the Columbia River Gorge crossing the…..