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Places to Include in Your Pacific Northwest Road Trip

    This week I had the immeasurable pleasure to take a road trip around the Pacific Northwest. I went with a fellow member of the Creative Content Team here at the Montana Gift Corral, our mutual friend from college, and my pup. It was a thrilling eight-day adventure with minor planning, plenty of chaos, and sights that robbed us of our breaths. While we bumbled about like kids in love with life, we found some places you should include in your Pacific Northwest Road Trip.

Pacific Northwest Roadtrip Montana Gift Corral

Photo courtesy of Issa Rabideaux

 

Goldbug Hot Springs

Goldbug Hot Springs Montana Gift Corral

Photo courtesy of The Outbound Collective    

    The first place we came across was one my co-worker, Kree, had been going on about for some time. We had left the evening before and camped near Sula, Montana which was only two hours from the Goldbug Hot Springs. After breaking camp, we headed out. When we got to the trailhead, we had no idea that the hike was two miles, or that there even was a hike. But it was there and began by crossing a small bridge before leading you up and over the tor. It was hot, and when you expected every turn to reveal the springs, it was long. I had been expecting lots of fauna and greenery - the way the PNW looked in my childhood. The long walk had us in low spirits, and when the trail began climbing up and into the mountains I almost turned back.

Goldbug Hot Springs, Pacific Northwest Road Trip, Montana Gift Corral

Photo courtesy of Kree Gullings

    I am so grateful I didn’t. As you climb you will find more trees, more green and after some steps, the next turn reveals something even better than hot springs. A large glade full of waterfalls and cool forest pools waits at the base of the hot springs. Waterfalls as little as one foot gurgled alongside waterfalls that roared over my head. It was breathtaking, it felt like every fairy tale I had ever read was inspired by this place. Dragonflies and butterflies fluttered about, caterpillars nibbled on leaves, even the spiders seemed enchanting.

Goldbug Hot Springs, Pacific Northwest Road Trip, Montana Gift Corral

Photo courtesy of Kree Gullings

    I wanted to spend forever just enjoying the cool water and thicker foliage, however, our true destination was just above. I’m not sure how much farther the actual trail goes, because after we hiked above the pools we elected to offroad it. We scrambled over a boulder or two and came to the fourth and final bridge of the trail. Across from it were the warm shallow pools of the hot springs, nestled beside the cold pool that fed into the waterfalls. It was soothing, it was beautiful, it was worth it, and I recommend it to anyone lucky enough to find themselves in the area. Just don’t forget water and snacks…  we did!

 

Crack in the Ground

Crack in the Ground Oregon, Pacific Northwest Road Trip, Montana Gift Corral

Photo courtesy of Kree Gullings

 

    I am from Washington and Minnesota, so when we entered Christmas Valley in Oregon the next day after driving for another ten hours, I was stunned. Little plants were growing along the road as far as the eye could see and it wasn’t until we were almost to our next destination that I realized that it wasn’t grass or dirt between them. But why was Kree once again leading us down this strange half-marked road in the middle of nowhere surrounded by sand?

Crack in the Ground, Pacific Northwest Road Trip, Montana Gift Corral

Photo courtesy of Issa Rabideaux

     The Crack in the Ground is a volcanic fissure that stretches for 2 miles. Some points of the fissure reach around 60 feet deep! Why would you want to go there? Because after a short hike to the starting point you discover that you can descend into the crack and that’s where the fun begins. As you start, igneous rocks begin to rise steadily above you until the sky's the crack above and the world is smooth grey stone, moss, and the occasional stinging nettle. Just like with Goldbug, Crack in the Ground feels like a place you would find in an epic high-fantasy novel. Devon, our third companion, was quick to race around and began to climb everything. Which wasn’t as much of a feat as you would think, the rocks are all amazingly smooth with fascinating and strange holes, curls, and loops.

Crack in the Ground, Pacific Northwest Road Trip, Montana Gift Corral

Photo courtesy of Kree Gullings

    As you explore you can tell that it was once lava flowing, with ripples and arches all around. Massive boulders block paths but with the perfect hand and foot holes to scamper over them. Even with my minimal climbing experience I was able to keep up but could only watch as Devon used some rocks like a monkey bar on a playground. Deep cracks and holes disappear into the ground, where a cool breeze seems to whisper up from a breathing cave. Crack in the Ground is a labyrinth of passages and tunnels, cliffs and caves that all whisper of things still to discover.

Crack in the Ground, Oregon Pacific Northwest Road Trip, Montana Gift Corral

Photos courtesy of Devon Gwynn, Issa Rabideaux, and Kree Gullings

 

Klamath Falls, Black Bear Diner

    The night after Crack in the Ground we camped off of a weird side road we found in the middle of the Winema National Forest. It was a beautiful forest, full of thick pines but with small clearings dispersed throughout. However, if you sleep here be prepared to hear strange calls at night like voices that seem to echo and otherworldly laughter. There was a lake somewhere nearby and the cries of the loons were echoing to our campsite. Some of us slept soundly, some of us did not. Which are you?

 Winema National Forest Pacific Northwest Road Trip, Montana Gift Corral

Photo courtesy of Issa Rabideaux

     After our night in the forest, we packed up our hammocks and made our way to Klamath Falls. The drive is beautiful and runs along the length of Upper Klamath Falls Lake for most of the journey. The town itself is quite beautiful as well, with tons of things to do both inside the city limits and out. Trails, parks, zip lines, and recreational sites surround the entire town. Inside there are quaint museums, places to rent paddle boards and canoes, galleries, and some amazing food.

 Upper Klamath Lake, Pacific Northwest Road Trip, Montana Gift Corral

Photo courtesy of Issa Rabideaux

     Our first stop when we got into town was somewhere with food. We weren’t especially picky and picked one of the first diners we found that had the name “Klamath Falls” in it. So we waltzed into the Klamath Falls Black Bear Diner, the host was kind and graciously ignored our scrappy appearance, bringing us to a booth almost immediately. When we opened the menu all of our mouths began to water. We had made a small dinner and had skipped breakfast and now everything looked amazing. The waitress was kind and joked with us about our large order, messy appearance and the fact Kree and I had already blown through all the cream and sugar at the table, laughing when we explained we had been camping and traveling for days. The service was surprisingly fast, it was busy when we got there and was obviously a local favorite, but our food was out in fifteen minutes and cooked to perfection. We ate as much as we could, swapping plates to taste everything and eagerly accepted the to-go boxes we were offered. I would recommend the Eggs Benedict with a side of Biscuits & Gravy, but you should probably just try it all. Truly delicious!

Klamath Falls Black Bear Diner, Pacific Northwest Road Trip, Montana Gift Corral

Photos courtesy of Kree Gullings 

 

Eagle Point, High Country Arts

 Eagle Point, High Country Arts, Pacific Northwest Road Trip, Montana Gift Corral

Photo courtesy of Issa Rabideaux

    Eagle Point is a tiny little town in southern Oregon that kinda reminds me of the town where I graduated from high school. There wasn’t much to look at and we spent most of our time there visiting a local craftsman. Don Burda is the owner of High Country Arts and makes elegant antler and hickory accessories and accents for any Western loving home. Don was very kind and had incredible enthusiasm when we toured his outlet. The store is in a simple warehouse building, but inside the metal, walls is a simply beautiful assembly of his craft and hard work. A large mirror framed with massive fallow antlers greets you from behind the counter. Necklaces made from turquoise and antler-beads, chandeliers made from mule and whitetail antlers, earrings and jewelry made from small antlers and then cast in silver. Shelves of knives and kitchen sets, wine-stoppers, and elegant bolo ties line the walls. In the side room, a small living room is set up, complete with a fireplace and an antler fireplace tool set. It was beautiful and we spent almost an hour simply browsing. Don was even kind enough to invite Dozer, my Aussie-lab, inside and offered him a spare piece of antler.

Eagle Point, High Country Arts, Pacific Northwest Road Trip, Montana Gift Corral

Photo courtesy of Kree Gullings

    Then we moved into Don’s workshop. Boxes and bins full of antlers of all shapes and sizes lined the walls, stacked on shelves or lined neatly along the floor. As you move further into the shop you can see the creative process at work with pieces of antlers in different spaces, tools I didn’t fully understand littered the tables and a fine white dust covered most things. Don showed us the large grinder he uses to help shape and smooth the antlers, the boxes of antlers he had received recently and the process of going through all of the antlers to find ones similar enough to make into a set. As a fellow artist, I was excited to get to see someone else’s creative process and it was everywhere. A visit to High Country Arts is worth it to see all of the unique ways antlers can be made into everyday items.

Eagle Point, High Country Arts, Pacific Northwest Road Trip, Montana Gift Corral

Photo courtesy of Issa Rabideaux

 

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park, Wizard Island, Pacific Northwest Road Trip, Montana Gift Corral

Photo courtesy of Kree Gullings

    After spending time with Don, we moved onto the national forest located north of us, Crater Lake National Park. It was later in the afternoon and not as many people around as I would have expected. However, none of us complained as we drove past the Rim Village and up the first overlook. I had heard of Crater Lake, I knew it was impressive, but the sheer size of the lake took me by surprise. A ring of rock continued on from where I was standing, circling the lake like a crown. Water as blue as the ocean and almost as clear as Glacier lazily lapped at the slopes. Inside, slightly off center, Wizard Island rose from the depths and stood tall and proud.

Crater Lake National Park, Wizard Island, Pacific Northwest Road Trip, Montana Gift Corral

Photo courtesy of Kree Gullings

    Endless trails weave around the lake, giving you a view from every angle. Trails lead up to the different peaks that stand guard over the lake like sentries and one trail that I was unable to find leads you down. The Cleetwood Cove Trail is the only place where it is safe to descend the scree coated cliffs. The trail leads down to the shore and it is the only place that’s safe to swim in the deepest lake in the United States.

    After exploring the gorgeous mountain,  we moved North to Mt. Thielsen. Along the Volcanic Scenic Legacy Byway, we found a side road and began to explore the seemingly endless labyrinth of tiny dirt roads that moved deeper and deeper into the forest. After a time we found a campsite far from any other people and surrounded by dust. It was quiet and peaceful, a small clearing at the edge of the pine forest. It was there that we found my favorite souvenir. As I was getting ready to build a small campfire I discovered that the yellow rocks around us were unusually light. I was able to easily lift rocks bigger than my head in one hand. It wasn’t until after we returned and did some research that we came to the conclusion that they were pumice stones, created when Mt. Thielsen was still an active volcano. However, when I first discovered them I was eager to show them off. I suggest picking up the largest stone you can find but pick it up with both hands and look strained. Then, when you have the attention of a companion, throw it at them. The result is hilarious as they demand to know how and why you just chucked a boulder at them.

 

Lincoln City, Captain Dan’s Pirate Pastry

Lincoln City, Captain Dan's Pirate Pastry, Pacific Northwest Road Trip, Montana Gift Corral

Photo courtesy of Kree Gullings

    We made it. We made it. We made it. Was all I could think as I exploded out of the car in a flurry of overwhelming excitement. I managed to contain myself long enough for Devon to get a leash on Dozer before we took off down the boardwalk. And then we were finally at the place I had been dreaming of ever since Kree asked me to join him on this trip, the Pacific Ocean. I understood the song from Disney’s Moana the moment I laid eyes on the water. It was endless, it was breathtaking and it was at my fingertips.

Lincoln City Beach, Pacific Northwest Road Trip, Montana Gift Corral

Photo courtesy of Expedia

    On the coast of the ocean is an adorable town called Lincoln City, we spent some time walking down the street that lines the Pacific Highway after camping just outside of it the night before. We were unable to linger long, we were on our fifth day on the road and only had three days left. However, what’s an adventure without stopping by the local pirate themed bakery? As we passed, my gluttonous eyes caught the words “best bakery in town” and if anyone thought I wasn’t going to have at least one donut, they were wrong. When you walk in you are met with the undeniable scent of fresh baked goodies and the delightful aroma of coffee. Yeah, they had an espresso bar too.

Lincoln City Captain Dan's Pirate Pastries Pacific Northwest Road Trip, Montana Gift Corral

Photo courtesy of Kree Gullings

    The entire store was adorned with pirate themed things and I don’t know if I can count how many times I saw Captain Jack Sparrow smouldering at us. Tables contained old maps of islands and bays. Pastries that were made fresh that morning filled the display case and choosing which turnover I wanted was difficult. I wanted them all, but they looked huge and I wasn’t sure I would be able to manage it. Devon immediately began ordering a dozen cookies of different varieties as well as a turnover, Kree settled on an apple turnover and I was unable to resist the call of the marionberry and cream cheese turnover. They were delicious and the latte was straight from my dreams.

 

Seaside

Seaside, Pacific Highway Pacific Northwest Road Trip, Montana Gift Corral

Photos courtesy of Issa Rabideaux and Kree Gullings

    The drive along the Pacific Highway is beautiful. Thick trees create a tunnel of green, disrupted only on occasion by the endless blue of the ocean. The drive alone is worth it, however, the town of Seaside was a fantastic destination. The city had endless shops and stores as far as I could see, and nestled amongst the chaos was a small amusement park. Buildings that looked like pink-tinged car garages opened to reveal bumper cars, mini-golf, and a carousel. Advertisements for surf rentals and the local aquarium lined the streets, but we had one destination in mind - the sea. Miles of beach stretch out from Seaside, full of people sunbathing, children playing and dogs trying to eat the ocean’s waves.

Seaside, Pacific Highway Pacific Northwest Road Trip, Montana Gift Corral

Photo courtesy of Issa Rabideaux

    We spent hours laughing and giving into our childish delight, completely letting go. We tried to keep our clothes salt and water free, but after an enthusiastic wave, we gave up on our futile attempts. Seeing the ocean is worth the drive alone, it’s like gazing up at at the night sky in Montana. The way the ocean stretches to fill the entire horizon and knowing its depths are deeper than we can fathom, you realize what a small place in the world you occupy. It’s humbling and gorgeous.

Seaside Oregon, Pacific Highway Pacific Northwest Road Trip, Montana Gift Corral

      After we explored the beach and exhausted ourselves, we strolled through the city before heading to our campsite. My biggest regret about Seaside was that we had one afternoon there, and I could have easily spent a week exploring it on its own. Perhaps that means I should do that next time?

 

     As I sipped my coffee on the morning of our final day before heading back to Bozeman I reflected on the adventure we had. It had been amazing, I had seen so much and had loved every second of it. It was like a dream come true and one post isn't enough to share everything I saw. I climbed mountains, lurked in tunnels and swam in the sea. I guess it pays off to go where you are drawn. 

Go Where You Are Drawn Nez Perce National Forest Pacific Northwest Road Trip, Montana Gift Corral

 

By: Issa Rabideaux with special thanks to Kree Gullings, Devon Gwynn, and Dozer

Comments

Lynaya Hendrickson

Lynaya Hendrickson said:

The photography was breathtaking! The descriptions of all the places make me wanna visit! Simply beautiful!

Shelbi Paul

Shelbi Paul said:

How fantastic is this! What a great trip.

Gary Schultz

Gary Schultz said:

This documentary about your trip was written with so much passion and had me closing my eyes and believing I was there. Very descriptive. Very proud of you Issa. We are want to take a trip to the PNW and now we are more motivated. Thankyou all for sharing your experience.

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