Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway - Oregon
Taking a trip on the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway captures the beauty and panoramic splendor of a Klamath vacation. The byway starts as Hwy 97 North crosses the Oregon-California border, goes north to Klamath Falls, Oregon, then skirts the western edge of Upper Klamath Lake past the Running Y Ranch on Hwy 140 West, and continues north past Rocky Point.
At Fort Klamath the Byway joins Hwy 62 North for a short drive to Crater Lake National Park. Plan on spending a full day of driving around the lake on the rim drive, going on a boat tour, and doing some hiking. The Byway continues through the north entrance of the Park and goes east on Hwy 138 until the road meets up with Hwy 97 South and back to Klamath Falls, Oregon. The Byway goes south on Hwy 39 into Northern California to the Lava Beds National Monument and culminates along the Lower Klamath Wildlife Refuge on the southern edge of the Oregon-California border.
The best time of year to travel the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway is the end of July to the end of August. By this time the snow has been cleared from the Crater Lake Rim drive and the North entrance is also open. If the North entrance is closed you will need to retrace your path to Fort Klamath and take the highway 62 South that connects to Klamath Falls.
Take the City Center exit to tour Klamath Falls, Oregon. Some of the interesting sites to see downtown are Veterans Park, the Baldwin Hotel Museum, the Favell Museum, and the Ross Ragland Theater.
Click here for things to do in Klamath Falls.
Traveling north on Hwy 140 takes you past the Running Y Ranch. The Running Y features the Arnold-Palmer designed golf course with majestic views of Upper Klamath Lake and the surrounding mountains. For family fun play a round at the unique 18-hole miniature golf course. You can also go horseback riding, go for a walk, or go canoeing. Spend the night at the Lodge, at one of the condos, or one of the rental properties. And, in the winter months go ice skating at the Bill Collier Community Ice Arena.
Continuing on the Scenic Byway on Hwy 140 West enjoy the drive along the lake but keep your eyes on the road (there is no guardrail). On the west side of Doak Mountain the road straightens and you see Pelican Butte and the Sky Lake Wilderness area. In the fall the aspen trees display their vivid colors and make a stark contrast against the evergreen trees.
Turn north off Hwy 140 onto West Side Road to go through Rocky Point. The Rocky Point Resort features overnight lodging, RV camping and tent sites, as well as a restaurant. Canoeing and fishing are also available.
The Scenic Byway at Fort Klamath takes Hwy 62 North to Crater Lake National Park. Enter the Park using the South Entrance. Before going to the lake, stop at the Visitor Center to watch a 20-minute film about the history of Crater Lake or talk to a ranger about the park. The rim is a short drive away and you can park in the Rim Village parking lot. Get your camera ready and walk the short distance to the rim. Enjoy the views! Walk down to the Lodge and sit in one of the rocking chairs overlooking the lake or go inside and view the history of the lodge.
The Crater Lake Rim Drive is an unforgettable experience because you see the lake from over 20 different scenic overlooks. Plan on spending at least two hours on this 33-mile drive.
Another activity that is a must is to take the boat tour. Tickets can be purchased at the Cleetwood Cove ticket center. The path to the lake is 1.1 miles. Two boat tours are available – one to Wizard Island and the other is around the lake. The more adventurous should take their swimming suits and go for a swim in the lake.
Spend the night at the Crater Lake Lodge, stay at one of the cabins in Mazama Village, or go RV camping, park your 5th Wheel, or set up your tent and enjoy the cool nights.
To leave the Park take the North Entrance and go east on Highway 138 back to Highway 97 South. Stop at the Collier Memorial State Park (north of Chiloquin) and take a tour of the Logging Museum or try your hand at flyfishing on the Williamson River.
The Scenic Byway along the east side of Upper Klamath Lake is one of the most beautiful drives in the Pacific Northwest. The Upper Klamath Lake is shallow with an average depth of less than 15 feet and is a favorite location for birdwatching and fishing.
Continue going south on Hwy 39 out of Klamath Falls, Oregon, through Merrill and take the road to the Lava Beds National Monument in Northern California. The Lava Beds features cave exploring, hiking, Captain Jack’s Stronghold, and overnight RV camping (tents sites also). Some of the caves are easy to walk to, others use ladders to access them, and others are a very strenuous – requiring you to get down on your hands and knees.
Traveling back to the Oregon-California border completes the tour of the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway. Stop at the Tulelake Wildlife Refuge and the Lower Klamath Wildlife Refuge to see a wide variety of migrant birds in their natural habitat. Eagles, hawks, falcons, geese, ducks, grebes, and other birds can be seen throughout the year.
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