Fall is one of my favorite times of year, a season of warm blankets, hot chocolate, Halloween and beautiful color. It might be hard to pick where to take a scenic road trip for fall colors in the USA. I have put together the top 15 places to see fall colors in the United States for you to make it easy and a dreamy vacation. So grab your cup of hot cocoa, light the fire, and let us explore where your next adventure will be.
Utah Road Trips for Fall Colors
American Fork Canyon, Logan Canyon, Park City Utah, Sundance Utah these are all the places I can unequivocally recommend for seeing Fall colors for the entire family.
American Fork Canyon
This can just be a drive through the Alpine loop where Aspens grace the steep slopes. Pull off on the side of the road under the fall foliage to have some ‘hobo dinners’ complete with meat, carrots, potatoes and your favorite seasonings over a fire. Finish off with a hike and sm’ores over the embers.
This is also a great drive through, a lot more of an open space where you can see fields of oranges, fiery reds. Hike up to the wind caves, visit the nature center, hike along the limber pine trail with an overlook of Bear Lake – one of the clearest lakes in Utah. Rent a cabin and make a weekend of it on your fall color road trip!
Park City and Sundance Utah
Take an easy walk up to the ski lifts, where you can enjoy a 30 minute ski lift ride right over the fields of wild flowers in the summer, or fall colors. The crisp mountain air, places to shop and dine along with the last remnants of the summer farmers markets will make for a perfect Fall getaway before the winds of winter arrive.
Colombia River Gorge, Oregon
This Gorge is about 2,100 feet deep with waterfalls, and fall foliage galore! Hike the challenging Hamilton Mountain, about 9.4 miles in passing 2 waterfalls ( Rodney and Hardy Falls ) along the way.
Participate in part of the PCT along the 5 mile out and back Dry creek falls. Despite being called a ‘creek’ this 75-foot waterfall will impress even the most negative hikers.
Lastly, end your day with a picnic at Pioneer Point on the 1.3 mile Cape Horn Loop. Where you will bask in the beauty of the Colombia River adorned with a spectacular spectacle of fall colors. Bring your thermos full of hot cocoa, you will want to stay here and drink in the view for awhile.
Maine is known as the ‘vacation state’ to many East Coasters. Vast landscapes packed with adventures for all. Yet, Kennebunkport Main stole my heart when searching for the perfect fall getaway. I would suggest visiting in September specifically as many of the local shops begin to close around the first week of October.
This quaint fishing village was known for its shipping, and packs a punch when it comes to historical value – including being the home town of one of one of the former President’s of the United States.
Be sure to wander the city on foot, take a whale watching boat ride, jump on a lobster boat and catch your meal for the day, and finish up with some blue berry ice cream, or a cuppa tea.
Ozark National Forest, Arkansas
I mistakenly thought that Arkansas didn’t have much to offer in the way of beauty. Yet it is like finding Where’s Waldo when going hiking. The trees cover all the hidden gems like hidden waterfalls, caves used by slaves to hide while getting to freedom, a Popeye Statue in the middle of a small town city and all sorts of down to earth people to talk to. The best part is that this great state is filled with trees that turn into beautiful fall colors – not to miss when fulfilling your fall colors bucketlist.
The iconic Whitaker Point hike with trees in reds, yellows, and oranges as far as the eye can see. A perfect time to hike in the Southern United States, because the humidity will be a lot less potent than in the throws of summer in this area.
There are plenty of hikes to enjoy here like Compton’s Double Falls, Sam’s Throne, and the Narrows with a fabulous display of nature’s beauty.
Catskill Mountains, New York
One word will convince you to visit the Castskill Mountains in Fall….Octoberfest. Beginning the end of September there are 4 weeks of Bavarian festivities held at Hunter Mountain. What is unique to this area is that it grows crisp, juicy, flavorful apples for a perfect hard apple cider. If festivals aren’t your thing, then stop by Delhi’s picturesque Wayside Cider for a more refined sip of these suds.
You can also drive the scenic route of the Catskill Mountains, hitting a round of golf, or spending the night camping in the cool autumn air. If you take a look at all the festivals held in the Catskill Mountains, you are sure to find something for everyone. My favorite is their lumberjack festival, I never realized just how intense the competition was until I saw one of these.
Enchanted Circle of New Mexico
Many people think of the East Coast as the only place with beautiful fall colors. Suprisingly New Mexico’s Enchanted Circle will give you a whole new perspective on Fall in the desert.
This is a circle you will need your RV for, or at the very least a tent as it is 84 miles of exploration. The circular route takes you around Wheeler Mountain ( 13,161 feet – 4.011 meters), and through the lush Hondo Valley blazing with colors of fall.
Stop at the Red River Fish Hatchery and take a self-guided tour. Enchant your children with the large rainbow trout pond. Maybe even travel down stream and try to catch a fish or two.
Carry on around to Questa, to visit Artesanos de Questa, where woodworkers, tinsmiths, painters, stained glass workers and sculptors show their work at this cooperative.
You will get an array of fall festivities, art shows, animal encounters and gorgeous scenery as you take a very memorable and enchanting drive around this circle.
Stowe Vermont Road Trip For Fall Colors
Known as the Fall Color Capital, is a time of vibrant colors that your eyes drink in calming the soul. There are many ways to see the breathtaking fall foliage here through the extensive network of hiking trails, kayaking down the reservoir, or just taking a leisurely scenic drive.
Despite the plethora of mountain biking paths, I recommend the leisurely ‘Rec Path’ for your fall foliage leaf peeping. This path is one the whole family or group of friends can enjoy no matter what their physical skill level is. For the more adventurous, I would take a zip line through the fall foliage, a guided tour, or a Stowe, at Night, Lantern Tour where you are regaled with tales of ghost stories.
Festivals such as the Stowe Tango Music Festival, Stowe Jazz Festival, Stowe Foliage Arts Festival, Stowe Arts Week, Art on Park and the outdoor art exhibit, ‘Exposed’ are just a few events that grace the artistic stages in this small town.
North Conway, New Hampshire
This is one of the more unique and off the beaten path places to visit for fall foliage. North Conway in New Hampshire may not be the first destination you would choose, but for train lovers it should be. There is a historic Victorian Station built in 1974 and on the National Register of Historic Places in the United States.
When you jump on the this train there are different lengths of time you can enjoy the fall foliage in comfort and class. If you like the spooky and scary, like me – try the Murder Mystery Dinner Train in October. Be sure to plan ahead as it only runs on certain weekends in october, and only in certain cars on the train so space is limited.
You cannot mention fall to me without immediately thinking about Halloween. There is no other town more fit to celebrate all Hallo’s Eve than Salem. Discover what it was like to live in New England during the time of the Salem witch trials. Take a ghost tour, explore the museums, meet real practicing witches, attend a play about witches – there are so many ghoulishly great activities you may forget you traveled there to see fall foliage as well.
The color palette along the New England Coastline is one you will never forget. An array of colors even the witches of Salem would have in their cauldrons. No matter where you go in this town, you will be surrounded by brilliant fall colors. Take a ferry down to Boston from Salem (30 min and $25 for one way) to avoid the incredible parking fees. Stroll along Beacon Hill, or Boston Commons two iconic places both photographically and historically. This where the warmth of the color of the trees matches the picturesque buildings of the 1700’s full of history and divine food – it is a perfect way to end your fall foliage frolicking.
Yellowstone National Park Road Trip for Fall Colors
Many people visit Yellowstone National Park in the Summer to see the buffalo, bears, and new babies emerging to find food after the long winter. Yet they often forget just how incredible the colors in the fall can be. It can get a bit chilly in the fall, and even snow if there is an early winter.
Seeing Old Faithful when the crowds are not as oppressive amid the backdrop of beautiful fall colors – should be on everyone’s bucketlist. This is one place that fall hits a bit earlier than the rest of the country, being early August/late August. Be sure that you check on hotels/camping sites you plan to stay at as there are many staggered closings up until Oct 20th.
The reason this is such a wonderful time to see the rutting season. The bison rutting season starts in August, and the Elk rutting season is in September. The park rangers admit, that it is not unusual to see the massive elk sparring and fighting throughout the season. I recommend visiting Mammoth Hot Springs for the best Elk Rutting shows, as this tends to be a place the congregate.
If watching the rutting season isn’t your thing, then maybe catching a fish is! Fishermen from around the world are drawn here for the Brown Trout spawning season. You are guaranteed to have a fish dinner every night that your heart desires. I would recommend Madison and Gardner rivers for the best trout fishing for the fall season.
Jackson Hole National Park
The swarms of summer visitors are gone, and a cornucopia of fall festivities is now in full swing. I would plan a visit in September for the best chance to see the full variety of fall foliage, as the parks will still be open and so will many of the best hikes. Take a ride through Grand Teton National Park full of aspens suffused with brilliant yellows of fall. Go on a wildlife viewing tour (which happen all year round) where the dark colors of elk, deer, and even bears pop out in your photos against the backdrop of fall colors.
Bundle up and catch one of the tram rides up Rendezvous Mountain at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Teton Village. Grab a cup of hot chocolate, and drink in the fresh crisp fall air. Make your way back down to Jackson Hole and reserve a uniquely western experience for dinner, with a Chuck Wagon Supper.
Fall in Jackson Hole is any photographer enthusiasts dream, with wild colors amid wildlife at their peak for mating season – there is no other time I would rather go.
Colorado is often known for the skiing in the fall, but it is one of my favorite places to see Fall Foliage. The people are very down to earth, you can take a horse back ride through Aspen Falls and Estes Park to see the best of the fall foliage without even breaking a sweat. Home to Rocky Mountain National Park and Roosevelt National Forest, with a massive network of mountain biking, and heart warming food – it truly is a fall foliage paradise.
Estes Park is a more luxurious and relaxing way to spend your time seeing fall foliage in Colorado. It is a Swiss inspired town, with songs, shows, and plenty of activities when the sun sets. It is also home to thousands of Elk that will be in the rutting season just like Yellowstone, and Jackson Hole – yet with more of the luxury comfort.
Washington State Road Trip for Fall Colors
I cannot say it enough, I love Washington! The first (of many times) I visited was when I went on my first sailing trip in Seattle. I was hooked and am already planning a trip back to experience fall foliage in Leavenworth. This small town has its own Autumn Leaf Festival. Where a parade full of fall colors and even Lady Fall Royalty is crowned in this small town.
Take a scenic road trip for fall colors through Mt Rainer National Park and see just how incredible the colors light up the land. While it is a very touristic area in the summer, many children are back in school. So it is a great camping getaway for both single and couples alike. Nothing is better than cuddling up in a blanket or next to your loved one than during fall.
The best places to take your epic fall foliage road trip in Washington are Paradise, Reflection Lakes, Bench and Snow Lakes for fabulous fall reflections. Get spiritual at the Grove of the Patriarchs, where you can worship giant Redwood trees. Drive along Chinook Pass on State Route 410 or the White Pass Scenic Byway on U.S. Highway 12 for vast landscape views unlike anything you have ever experienced.
Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia
This is where you will find the iconic old, dark colored mills against the flaming red colors of aspens. Because of the iconic nature along this drive, I highly recommend making reservations months in advance (especially for October). The best time to see the fall colors here is in mid to late October when the colors are at their peak.
When driving this parkway, you will be surrounded by foliage on east and west facing slopes. A perfect drive for the morning, or during golden hour especially along James River. As you travel south you will gain about 6,000 feet of elevation (1828 meteres) up to Mt. Pisgah into North Carolina.
This is one destination that you will need to plan on a journey to see the fall foliage at its best. Due to the varying elevations along this parkway, the peak fall foliage is going to be dependent upon the elevation.
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, West Virginia
Located along the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, this is a fabulous place for fall photography. It is four parks from four different States in one, with massive historical ties to the Civil War. Due to this, the parking can be limited with narrow stalls. So I wouldn’t suggest bringing your RV on this one, unless you have a boat load of patience. Alternatively, I would bring/rent a small car and use the shuttle while here.
Be sure to jump off at the footbridge to the C&O Canal stop, as this is where the rivers meet, and give a view like none other. The two rivers collide here, with an island like center, full of fall foliage and color to satisfy any leaf peeper. I highly recommend going to Maryland Heights viewpoint as this is going to be the most iconic and stunning view of the park during fall.
Even though I don’t have children of my own, I really appreciate it when parks provide things like passport stamps to kids, and junior ranger badges, historical tours that the whole family can enjoy. I think it is important to teach the younger generations the beauty that can come from traveling, and especially from traveling responsibly. Showing them and even our own friends just how beautiful nature can be when we take care of it. Harpers Ferry National Historic Park offers all of these things – which is why I highly recommend this place. You are going to need at least 4-5 days to properly explore the fall foliage, hiking, and historic parts of this town.
Gathering Up the Best Fall Leaves
Fall is my favorite time of year. There is not other time that you are still relaxed before Thanksgiving, or Christmas, and can celebrate creativity during Halloween. The crisp air and crisp apples contrast with the warmth of fires, warm drinks and warm fall colors.
No matter where you live, or where you visit in the United States – I hope you are able to visit one of these places during your search for the best places to see fall foliage. From the East Coast to the West Coast, from North to South, from High to Low- there are plenty of scenic road trips for fall colors in the USA for everyone.
This post may contain affiliate links, for more information read our full disclosure The travel industry is throwing around this term: Responsible Tourism or Sustainable Tourism. So what does Responsible Tourism mean? Each year we travel, consume, photograph and share on our social media channels, exposing friends and family to expand their knowledge of the cultures of the world.
Responsible Tourism is a multifaceted approach, which includes:
Minimizing negative social, economic and environmental impacts while traveling
Generating greater economic benefits for local people and enhancing the well-being of host communities
Improving working conditions and access to the worldwide industry
Involving local people in decisions, markets, and trade that affect their life and chances at life.
Making positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage, embracing the diversity.
Providing more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful connections with local people and a greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues.
Provides access for physically challenged people
Is being culturally sensitive, encourages respect between tourists and hosts, and builds local pride and confidence.
There are many different ways that this can be addressed and focused on. The Culture Trekking Community is one that focuses on numbers one, five, six and eight. Creating a community where ideas, religions, cultural idiosyncrasies are both shared, respected and embraced. As the Community grows I want to improve awareness on environmental impacts as well as fight the uphill battle of having more meaningful human connections. Today I will focus on the latter.
Where the idea started for my own Responsible Tourism:
The video was quite graphic when I saw this 2 years ago, but it really impacted me in so many different ways. The moral of the story is…..you don’t know what you don’t know until you educate yourself on how small choices like using single-use straws can impact the environment. I now carry a reusable metal straw in my purse at all times. This video is where responsible tourism started for me….watching this turtle in so much pain made me feel like I needed to do more for the environment.
It isn’t just the plastic straws, it is garbage that is left strewn about in all the different places that I visit. I remember walking behind someone in Yellowstone National park…..they dropped a wrapper on the ground (a large one). I was so frustrated by this because they had a bag they could have easily slipped that wrapper into. I picked it up and gave it back to the tourist, who naturally acted like they dropped it by accident (even though I watched them look around before dropping it). It is not that hard to slip those wrappers into a pocket, a bag, in your shoe….anything but on the ground. Taking a few more steps to ensure your rubbish gets into the proper receptacle is not as hard as you think…..as Nike says ‘JUST DO IT’!
Another video that truly impacted me was one man in India, who returned to his home to find the beach he loved filled with garbage. He knew he had to do something so he started knocking on doors and aims to be that change he wishes to see in the world. Take a look at the video & then I want to think about how much of a difference we could make if each of us committed to picking up 3 pieces of trash wherever we travel to. What about taking an extra garbage bag on a local hike in your hometown? We could all use a few more squats in our day, right?
Why am I showing you all these videos? A picture is worth a thousand words (or so they say), but I feel that videos are the way to make an impact that can create change. What is better than a video? Visiting a place like the Washed Ashore Gallery in Bandon Oregon (several displays are located throughout the United States, see the Washed Ashore Exhibit Locations for more information) can both teach our generation and the generations below us how to protect our earth and save our oceans.
Traveling can be an exotic thing full to the brim with activities that will make your friends envy your life & maybe even despise you a little. The more I travel the more I realize that I want to make a difference in the world, no matter how small it is. Ecotourism and Volunteering for cleanups and service can help connect our communities, open minds and hearts, and help start the change we wish to see in the world.
Supporting Companies with good causes:
Save the Baby Turtles!
A Blogger friend of mine in Fort Lauderdale Florida was able to participate in the nighttime protection of hatching baby turtles. These baby turtles get confused by the city lights and instead of going into the ocean (following the moon), they follow the city lights. This leads them to be run over or crushed by bikes, cars or fall into holes they cannot get out of. What these volunteers do is once the baby turtles hit their 10-foot periphery line, they gather them up in a bucket and take all the confused little fellas to the ocean where they set them free. They also move beach chairs and sandcastles to allow for the mothers to come to the beach easier and lay their eggs. Check out her post on Saving Baby Sea Turtles and how you can help or participate!
Soul Flower Clothing Company
As soon as I found this clothing company, I know I had found my tribe. Just look at their tagline:
Soul Flower is a natural clothing brand for kind souls and free spirits. Mindfully made with natural fibers and heartfelt art, we design our threads with kind vibes from start to finish. We seek inspiration in the simplicity of everyday life – in nature and in music, in free-spirited adventures and in like-minded souls. We create clothing in a way that supports our planet, spreads a positive message, and most importantly — helps you express yourself.”
To all my big headed ladies out there (I’m talking literal, not egotistical) – this is the place you should get your headbands! Every time I wear these headbands I feel a little better about myself, I read the inspirational message printed on it and cannot help but feel inspired to finish out the day with a bang! Plus, let’s be honest, sometimes a girl just needs a headband to decrease the stress of doin’ da hur….ya feel me? To get your headband:
The other items I have personally tried and fallen in love with so far are the yoga pants and shirts. If I’m being honest, I wear the pants EVERYWHERE! Not just because the pants are comfortable, but because they have the most adorable prints on them that inspire me to continue to be Eco-friendly in my day to day life & inspire me to live a simpler life to help have less of an impact on the environment. I wore the shirt for two days in a row people! I know that’s gross but it has been so hot over here, and it is so light, airy and cute with the little leaves on it… I couldn’t resist
Personal Note: It is sooooo hard to find cute and comfortable clothing as a curvy woman — so to find a company that caters to my desire to be eco-friendly and embraces those of all shapes and sizes really just gives me warm fuzzies and I want to shout out from the rooftops how much I appreciate and love them for this.
You don’t just have to participate in environmentally friendly activities at destinations you visit. You can start being environmentally friendly to companies just like Soul Flower. Check out Soul Flower Summer Specials today!
Other Ways to be a Responsible Tourist:
Be Respectful of Religions and Cultures:
Look at local customs and rules when entering churches across the world. Do not make derogatory jokes or compare those within the country to something you deem as ‘more sensible’ or ‘better practices’. Do not impose your beliefs on those within the country unless prompted to. Respect the cultural idiosyncrasies of what is considered ‘normal’ for that country.
The bottom line is, just because something, someone, or a country as a whole does something different than what you know to be normal — doesn’t mean that it is wrong. There are some exceptions where it endangers basic human rights, practices, or harms/mutilates any animal or human being (obviously). Even if you do see something wrong, intervening as a tourist could land you in jail – be careful, be cautious and if you have a concern about the country/destination use a guide that you can ask questions about what is appropriate or if you can do something/intervene without landing yourself in jail.
Be Respectful of Shop Owners Overseas:
Do not take photos of products, items, or anything in different countries that could affect their livelihood. Do not get offended if they ask you not to take photos, there is a reason! Unnamed countries citizens will visit these economically struggling countries and take photos of their products and produce them at a fraction of the cost, but they are not authentic products.
Moroccans, for example, rely on their skill and artistry of furniture, clothing, architecture, woodworking to profit from their craft and provide for their families. How many times have you visited a country and thought, ‘Oh I can get that back in my own country, I don’t need to buy it here’. This is why it is so important….so many countries rely on tourism and the money it brings in to put food on the table. So please….before you take a photo in a store, ASK the owner if it is ok.
Be Aware and Educate Yourself on Regional Issues:
Human trafficking, terrorism, and so many more unsavory things happen in this world. I have too much of a tender heart to focus in on the negative all the time, so rarely listen to the news – but I do search for those individuals who have the capacity to handle situations such as this. I support them, I share their stories and donate when I’m able to.
It is important to be sensitive to cultural and religious practices (as part of Responsible Tourism) that help to positively define a culture, but that never means we should tolerate those who continually violate the basic human rights of food, safety, and shelter.
With having experienced Rape and sexual assault myself, the topic of sex trafficking is a very passionate topic for me. Operation Underground Railroad is a team of individuals of highly specialized individuals who have years of experience in special forces, law enforcement working proactively since 2013 with local governments that I wholeheartedly support. This is a video that had me in tears for how grateful I was to the men & women who do this. Please support them in whatever way that you can…. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_CgQcNkUlw&feature=youtu.be If you would like to Donate to O.U.R. please feel free to do so, if you are unable to donate, then try and Volunteer for O.U.R. to help aid in their efforts.
Small changes can make a big difference:
Wear environmentally friendly products:
Keep any soap while camping at any location away from runoff areas (at least 100 feet).
Bury or pack out your human waste. Look at the requirements for each camping spot you visit for their rules and regulations.
Wear environmentally and Ocean friendly sunscreen as this often washes off the ocean, causing damage to coral and marine life.
Bringing your own straws, skip the straw at Starbucks. If this doesn’t make sense, please keep watching the video of the Turtle above until it does.
Get a recycling bin or start a recycling group in your neighborhood. (More information below on recycling that could be available in your country).
Make a list of low-cost companies that produce Biodegradable Products and keep a list. Hand the list out to anyone who uses straws, show they alternatives. Don’t force it down their throat — educate with KINDNESS! Honey works better than vinegar when trying to entice people to change their daily habits or companies to change the status quo.
Utilize the Reusable Grocery Bags:
This is such a simple change that we can all do (especially those of us in the States). In most other countries they are charging for the plastic bags, yet when we implement it here to try and help support the environment….everyone loses their minds! They tried to do this when I lived in Texas and I would stand there and see with my own eyes, these grocery baggers get verbally assaulted for doing their job and charging for the plastic bags. Come on people…..be better than that……do better than that…….realize that this isn’t just about YOU and YOUR needs, but for the betterment of humanity and animals. If you still aren’t convinced that plastic bags are a big deal, watch this video of the whale found dead with hundreds of pounds of plastic bags in its stomach. If that doesn’t convince you, well…..I don’t know how to help you become a better human being.
I need some advice myself on this one….grrrhhh….. I have all the reusable bags I can handle. I start daydreaming on the way to the grocery store, then out of habit, forget to take the reusable grocery bags I brought off the garage wall where I put them so I wouldn’t forget them. If you have some advice on how to remember these things…..let a girl know in the comments below.
A Call to Action for Responsible Tourism:
Here is a great resource if you would like to participate in Ecotourism on your next trip: Ecotourism.org
Straws:The Last Plastic Straw is a great website for a list of all the different types of straws, where to get them and how they are better than the plastic straws. There is also a site completely dedicated to Living a life without plastic, this is where I get my reusable metal straws (bamboo and glass is also available).
Home, Pets, Cleaning supplies and more:Life Without Plastic gives you so many bamboo or steel options that can replace many of the household items that have or contain plastic. Gift certificates, gift registry, and points program are also available on this site to help you invite friends to the #noplastic movement.
Recycling throughout the world: Recycling in the States (contact your city councils to arrange this), Recycling in Australia, Recycling in Canada, Curbside Recycling available in New Zealand please check your local city councils, Recycling is also available in the United Kingdom for each household (mandatory supply of bins from government), Spain also has recycling available in some areas, and the Netherlands actually pays you to bring in your recyclable materials (typically at grocery stores).
IF YOU HAVE RECYCLING IN YOUR COUNTRY AND IT IS NOT LISTED HERE, PLEASE LIST THE RESOURCE OR WHO TO CONTACT BELOW 🙂
A Must Read Plastic Free Blogger: If you are like me and feel a little overwhelmed by how many things in your home contain plastic, visit Beth Terry: My Plastic Free Life Blogger. She will teach you, take you step by step through the process and show you how to live a plastic-free life.
Worldwide Plastic Pollution Coalition – Now NO ONE has an excuse to not participate in reducing their plastic use. This is a global alliance of individuals, organizations and businesses working together to stop plastic pollution.
How To Tour Responsibly:
We have such a duty to protect creatures who outlived the dinosaurs, are essential to our planet’s ecosystem – the Sea Turtles. We don’t have to start being Eco-friendly or participate in Responsible Tourism practices only when we are traveling. Get involved in the activities now, one goal or plastic straw at a time.
Be respectful of religions, people, cultures, and races as long as they do not infringe on basic human rights to live life peacefully, safely without fear of bodily harm and can provide for basic human needs of shelter, food, and water.
Get involved in volunteer programs locally where you can help end human trafficking, gang violence, opioid epidemics, and so much more. There seems to be an Instagram hashtag or Facebook group for everything these days. If you have any suggestions for local groups you are passionate about, please let it in the comments below with a link to their site. Teach those around you, share the information on your social media platforms….it just takes one rock in a pond to start a ripple that turns into a wave. Be that change you wish to see in the world.
How do you like to contribute to Responsible Tourism?
What is the most important thing to you regarding Responsible Tourism?
Bandon Oregon is steeped in native history, teeming with fisherman, and plenty of activities for the whole family. So while you are on your Oregon Coast Roadtrip, Bandon should be on your list. If you happen to visit, here is what to do in Bandon Oregon.
History of Bandon
The tribes were defeated in their resistance and relocated to the Siletz (the collective name of the 20 tribes relocated here) Reservation. This reservation is a 48-hour walk (with current road systems) from Bandon to Siletz Reservation. They were placed in an area that is 5.82 sq miles, and have gone from 10 distinct languages to one.
The Siletz language now has a talking language dictionary due to the help of National Geographic Society and the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages, their language will hopefully continue to be preserved. Time went on and in 1873 George Bennette with his sons Joseph and George, along with Mr. Sealy came from Bandon Ireland to this area.
The original name of Averill is changed to Bandon a year later and the town continued to flourish. Mr. Bennette helped to both build and destroy Bandon. He brought his native grouse plant from Ireland, which you will see throughout the town. The grouse is characterized by waxy leaves and small yellow flowers in thick thickets of bushes (especially along the coastline).
The grouse plant is what started the great fire in 1936. The older folks in the town may remember the fire still, it would take years for the town to rebuild itself. Wood production, sawmills, water plants helped the town flourish, even the first Bandon Cranberry Festival took place (1947). You can still visit the Cranberry Sweets factory today and sample some of the treats and other boutique shop items. Have I piqued your interest in Bandon yet? It may look like a small town that is brand new, but this little town packs a big punch in both history and in the outdoor activities you can participate in.
Floras Lake State Park:
This hike is a lot more strenuous than it appears. You start off walking over a bridge to a beach like area. It is quite unique as there is a lake on one side and over the sandy hill is the ocean. The sand is more like small pebbles that really took a toll on my calves. The lake is a very popular place to come Kitesurfing as the wind is usually perfect for this sport.
As you walk along the edge of the lake to the forested area, I would suggest bringing water shoes so you can walk on the packed down sand near the shoreline. Once you reach the wooded area you feel like skipping down the trail singing, ‘Lions and Tigers and Bears oh my!’. Although nothing really jumped out of the woods at us, except for an occasional squirrel it is truly a place where you feel Gnomes and Fairies could live.
We walked for quite a while, 1 mile before most of the group turned back. My friend Breanna was so excited for this trail as it is supposed to spit you out along the sweeping cliffs complete with gorgeous waterfalls. As she led us along this trail we ran into large puddles of water. With the edges of the trail being thick with sticks, moss, and underbrush we had to wade straight through the ankle-deep mud. I finally looked at my Fitbit watch and informed Bree that we had just hiked 2 miles in (which means we would have 4 miles back). She was sorely disappointed when I told her she could keep going, she caved and turned back with me.
On the way back, about 1/2 mile past where the others had turned back, we noticed a tiny little sign (its brown and has a 1 inch by 2 inch arrow with tiny little black mileage on the sticker)….this was where we were supposed to have turned to head to the end of this hike. In total, we hiked 8 miles this day through pebble beaches, sand, sludge, wooded areas and were completely knackered by the time we reached the rest of the group. So if you decide to hike in Floras Lake State Park, be sure you either have a GPS guide or someone who can tell you where the bloody turn is.
This 40-foot lighthouse was built at the mouth of the Coquille River to help the Mariners get by the dangerous shifting sandbars that dot the river. In 1890 the Bandon Oregon area was known for its fishing and timber industries. Congress approved the $50,000 it would take to build this lighthouse (in 1891) and it was completed by 1895 and was first used February 1896.
The fire in 1936 slowed the ships into the town of Bandon and with the amount of money needed to rebuild the town, the Coast Guard decommissioned the Lighthouse by 1939. Eventually, the lighthouse was restored, and in 1991 was gifted with a new solar-powered light. It is now open from mid-May to September. Address: 56487 Bullards Beach Rd, Bandon, OR 97411
Washed Ashore Gallery in Bandon Oregon: Art to Save the Sea
This was by far my favorite place to visit and where I feel my quest of using the least amount of plastic possible began. You wouldn’t expect something like this in such a small town, but artist Angela Haseltine Pozzi started this non-profit community art project in 2010 to bring awareness to the plastic problem in our seas.
Every single piece of the marine life sculptures in this gallery are made entirely from garbage that is removed from the Ocean. After walking the magnificent beaches of Oregon Angela decided to make a bold statement through Art, by using this garbage to created the animals who were the most affected by the garbage pollution. Be sure to stop by and help create one of these masterpieces, I’m sure you will leave the Washed Ashore Gallery with a greater sense of responsibility to #SavetheSea Address: 325 2nd St SE, Bandon, OR 97411
Other exhibitions: St Paul Minnesota at the Como Park Zoo, Chicago, Illinois, S at the Shedd Aquarium, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Washington, DC. Donations can be made to WashedAshore.org – a Non-Profit organization
Shores Acre State Park
A picture can tell a thousand words, but a video can help you experience all that Shores Acre State Park has to offer. This park was once a magnificent estate of Baron Louis Simpson, a logging tycoon that wanted to create a palace for himself on the Shoreline of Oregon. Stroll along the trail from the parking lot to the Ocean Cove at Simpson Beach.
Take a gander inside the viewpoint gazebo during any season and watch the waves at high tide crash against the shoreline. You may even see some migrating whales along the shore during December and March. The Simpson mansion has since disappeared but the formal Shores Acre Gardens are still well maintained and close by. Walking through these gardens is a like a botanical Disneyland.
You start your journey through a tulip-lined walkway with fountains and benches. Birds softly chirping around you, and you are sheltered from the Ocean winds. A small house sits on the property with a cottage like feeling that welcomes all who enter. Be sure to take in the Japanese-style garden with a lily pond, and the two rose gardens. If you are there during the Christmas holidays, volunteers will delight you by filling the garden with lights making for a perfectly romantic holiday getaway.
Address: Cape Argo Hwy, Coos Bay, OR 97420 Note: Credit Cards are not accepted for parking pass purchases. Receipt from any other Oregon State Park Campground is accepted as a daily permit, just display it on the driver’s side of the dashboard.
Crabbing in Charleston:
Did you know that you can go crabbing in Oregon and California? I thought that crabbing was reserved only for being on the boats in the middle of the Alaskan Bearing Sea. When we went to Oregon, I found out that you can go Crabbing just off the Pier in Charleston (a town right near Bandon). Grab some Crab Pots at Davey Jones Locker, along with some thawed out fish heads and such & catch some fresh Crab for your dinner.
Right between Bandon and Charleston are two places where you can ride ATV’s. Our itinerary did not allot for the time to do this, but is definitely on the list should we go back. The trails that you would be looking for are Winchester Trails for ATV riding, and Blue Ridge for ATV, Camping, and Sand Boarding. Check out Oregon’s riding restrictions before you go, so as not to get a ticket.
Circles in the Sand at Facerock Wayside Beach:
We happened upon the Circles in the Sand group when checking out Bandon’s City page. This wonderful group goes out to Facerock wayside beach and using rakes to create labyrinths in the sand. Once the labyrinths are completed, the attendees are gathered together – a message of hope and encouragement of a medatative state of mind is encouraged.
As you disconnect from technology, follow the paths along the beach, and truly listen to the waves crashing nearby – a state of calm and peace with descend upon you. Truly one of the most unique experiences while in Oregon. Be sure to connect with them through the Facebook website
Although Bandon is not well known for its attractions, it is a truly beautiful place. If you are an outdoor fanatic like me, you will feel so at peace and at home being amongst the moss lined trees. Seeing Bandon on the map is quite a different experience than actually being in this city. The area is suited not just for the outdoor savvy, but those with children, elderly, families small and large, and for those who may have disabilities. Participate in as many hikes, sand labyrinth walks, and art projects as you can while visiting.
As Always Happy Travels, Happy Tales, and See You On the Flip Side.
No matter if you are traveling with children, alone, or just with your furry friend – Road Trips can either be Hell on Earth; or a vacation in and of themselves. So after driving all over the Western United States for most of my life, here are a few Travel Hacks for Road Trips I highly recommend following when planning your own Road Trip at home or abroad.
This is a fantastic app for your road trip, and can also be accessed online to help plan your vacation on the road. I first found and utilized this when taking a Road Trip from Dallas Texas to Nauvoo Illinois. I was going to be traveling through a bunch of open fields. After planning out my route I explored all the spots along the road that had a good rating and found this gem in the middle of nowhere! It is in the Spinach Capital of the United States. A statue of the spinach-eating machine himself has his own little garden and fountain. This also happens to be across from the Police Station, so you have ample entertainment for all!
This app and website are a fantastic way to make those 12 hour drives a little more bearable on the road. From a medical standpoint, it also gives you an excuse to get out of the car every few hours to walk around. People who sit and travel long distances can have swollen legs and blood clots at times as well if they do not walk around sufficiently.
How to stay awake while driving
Get enough rest the night before
Doing this will help you be more alert on the road and less prone to falling asleep at the wheel.
IF YOU ARE TIRED AND START TO LOSE CONCENTRATION THAT IS THE FIRST SIGN YOU ARE AT RISK FOR FALLING ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL.
Pull into a gas station and take a power nap.
I have done this a few times in the past, where I pull into a busy gas station and take a 15-20 min nap. This always helps me feel more refreshed.
Avoid sugary foods or high carbohydrate content as your snack.
When you eat high carbohydrate and high sugar content foods, it starts a vicious cycle of fatigue. Why? Well, you eat that doughnut or candy, your body sees it as too much sugar, so it releases insulin and then drops your blood sugar again. Then you become very sleepy or hungry again, starting the cycle over. I try to avoid sugary foods whenever driving for this reason.
When I get warm I tend to fall asleep much easier. It is more comfortable to be warm, but I would rather have cold toes and arms before risking crashing my car and killing someone else.
This is my favorite way to stay awake. Imagine this like the old radios back in the day that would tell the cowboy stories to the children. The children would be so enthralled by the battles and day to day explanations because they didn’t have TV, this was their entertainment.
Audiobooks typically have quality actors and actresses that are able to do multiple accents, voices, and inflections to keep the listener engaged. Yes, some of the audiobooks are entirely too boring and drab to listen to on the road, but there are many that are not.
I personally have signed up for Amazon’s Audible Book subscription for $14.95 per month. I am an affiliate with them, but I have never been more grateful for the positive entertainment value it provides and now listen to them on the way to and from work all the time.
This is something my flatmate is really into. She has several Podcasts that she listens to on a daily basis to and from work. I think this could also work for road trips as well, you may just need to download the podcasts to your mobile device prior to starting your trip.
What are some of your favorite podcasts?
If all else fails, just start swigging Caffeine. Think of all those boring meetings from work you have survived on the sweet nectar of the Gods.
Travel with a friend:
Switching off while driving is really important while on the long road trips and stretches of the road.
Stretches and Facial exercises:
This is an odd one, but I start stretching my legs, toes, fingers, neck, back arms etc…. It keeps your heart rate slightly more elevated than at baseline, thus increasing blood flow to your brain and keeping you refreshed.
Facial exercises also help to keep me awake at the wheel. I open and close my mouth as hard as a can, wiggle my jaw side to side, see how many animal sounds I can make with my tongue etc….
Check road conditions and weather conditions
With the age of the internet came the ability to check your road conditions prior to starting your journey. There have been several instances that I wish I would have, and others where I didn’t and wish I would have.
There was one instance where I didn’t want to leave my parents house to drive back to Las Vegas and did not look at road conditions. I ended up leaving the house when it first started to snow, and by the time I hit Cedar City Utah, I was in a complete blizzard. Traveling at 25 mph on the freeway because of road conditions, and was nearly hit by a snow plow.
Organizing the car
This is paramount for safety while driving. The less distracted you are on the road, the better off and safer you will be.
I will put all the luggage in the very back of the car, the cooler in the middle of the back seat where it is easy for your friend to reach if needed. If you are traveling alone, set up your ‘snack bag’ where you can easily reach it.
Make sure you have Sunglasses to help with Glare.
If you are driving at night, turn down the dashboard lights. This will help your eyes not feel as tired from trying to adjust to the brightness of the dashboard vs the road.
Have your music or audible book playing before you put the car in drive.
Garbage bag, paper towels, and Kleenex should also be nearby where you don’t have to bend over, reach, or stretch to access them.
Check Your Car for Maintenance
Before you pack anything in the car, make sure your spare tire is filled up and in good condition.
Have a small gas can handy, just in case you miss an exit and the next gas station or turn around isn’t for another 50 miles and you are on empty.
Make sure you check your tire pressure after everything is loaded and in the car.
Change your oil, cabin filter, and engine filter before you go. This will help with gas mileage in your car.
Have your local mechanic esure all fluids are topped off, and the washer fluid is the appropriate one for the area you are traveling to.
I once was driving from Las Vegas to Utah in the snow and went to use my windshield wiper fluid and it froze on my windshield. I had to do an ACE Ventura head out the window to drive to the next town to get it fixed. They had to thaw out the windshield wiper lines with a hairdryer and vinegar, then unplug them. This really cut into my total driving time and was a major stressor. So mention to your mechanic if you find you will be driving to different climates and what they suggest for those areas.
Plan for Gas Stops
Don’t push the car to the point the gas light comes on! I always make a rule for myself that should I take a long road trip where I have never been before I never let the tank get down past 1/4 tank. Even a 1/4 tank is pushing it for me, I typically will fill up at 1/2 tank because I know I will be able to drive for several hours to the next gas station.
Get On The Road Again
Road trips can be a fantastic way to make bonds with friends, and see new destinations. It is important to plan, stay safe and stay awake on the road. There are over 100,000 car accidents per year from people falling asleep at the wheel in the United States. Make sure you know your own limits on when you need a break, even if it is just a mental break. There are plenty of unique things you can see on the road, not every place has to be Instagram worthy. The best adventures will always be the locations that make you feel more fulfilled and productive in your daily life, spark your creativity or help you create a more meaningful connection.
Happy Travels, Happy Tales & See You On The Flip Side.
An Oregon Coast Camping Road trip should be on everyone’s bucket list. There are so many things to see, do and experience it is hard to narrow it down into a week or two. So here are my suggestions for your perfect Oregon Coast Camping Vacation, and my experiences along the road that will help you plan your own.
The Bad Omen:
Omens are a thing of legends and a word often used by mystics in the age of King Arthur, right? Well despite the word being associated with paranoid people and magicians in movies, I am still a big believer in them myself. Case and point number one, my roommate forgot her wallet about 45 minutes after we started on the road. Some may call this an accident, but I jokingly kept saying, ‘ It’s AN OMEN’! When things like this happen, it often puts you on the wrong foot when starting, what is supposed to be, a relaxing vacation. Be sure to check out my Packing Lists to ensure that you will not forget anything you could possibly need, but at the same time, not over pack.
Heading from Salt Lake City Utah, we were able to make a few extra stops along the way to Oregon. Our first stop is the Bonneville Salt Flats.
The Salt Flats:
There are several places among the Salt Flats that you can stop and get stellar photos and selfies. Because we are short were short on time, we stopped at a rest stop with a short 5 foot walk onto the Salt Flats with gentle rolling hills in the Distance.
Try to wear monocolor clothing without any wording on it or symbols. In photos it just looks distracting. Don’t wear sunglasses unless they are reflective and you just want the attention to be on your face. Avoid watches as this can also be distracting for the viewer. I personally love to wear flowing dresses here, because it just looks cool when it blows in the wind. Otherwise pair your clothing with something that will contrast to the background. For the Salt Flats, Sunrise or Sunset is the absolute best time to go, the white ground gets very reflective of the sun and can blow out your photo.
After this Quick stop, we were on our way to Tokatee Falls. If you are driving from Salt Lake City on your way to Wendover, this is also a great little stop that is only 1.5 hours away.
Timing Tokatee Falls:
We arrived at Tokatee Falls about 30 minutes before Sunset was complete. We had to do the hike rather quickly, and there are lots of stairs folks. I also had swollen legs from sitting for 16 hours in the car. It made it very difficult to do this trail quickly, this was the first instance I kicked myself for being so out of shape of many on this trip.
To avoid those swollen legs when driving or flying for long distances, compression stockings are a LIFE SAVER! No literally, they are life saving. When I would have patients come into my office with calf pain, one of the first things I ask is if they have done any traveling that required them to sit for long periods of time. The ones who ended up having blood clots in their legs, were often the ones that said yes. I bet you are thinking, ‘Oh, that only happens with old people’…..NOPE…..think again. Some people are more prone to it than others, especially younger people who overload themselves on energy drinks and caffeine to stay awake. No one is immune to blood clots. A good rule of thumb is to get out of the car every hour or two and walk around for at least 15 minutes.
Getting to Tokatee Falls was awe-inspiring and took my breath away. I have never seen a waterfall like this in my entire life. The hike was fairly easy getting there (minus all the stairs). There is a hike that goes by the river, that I spotted plenty of swimming holes. Tokatee Falls itself was a contrast of white and dark, smooth and jagged visual delights. When there are such contrasting elements in one photo, I get very inspired. Views such as this are nourishment for the soul.
Floras Lake State Park
We arrived in Bandon and set up camp quickly in the dark. It is a lot more humid in Bandon than you would expect, so a drop of 15 degrees at night can be the type of chill that sinks into your bones. (I will post some tips on how to stay warm camping in Humid environments on Culture Trekking YouTube Channel, be sure to check it out).
The next morning we were delighted with eggs and toast by Bree’s sister, who lives in Grant’s Pass. We headed to Floras Lake State Park and started a hike that would take us around a lake known for its kite surfing, into an enchanted forest. The forest had moss-covered branches, topsy-turvy turns and truly felt magical. We couldn’t help skipping down the trail singing ‘Lions, and tigers and bears OH MY!’
The trail is best to do in the summer as it is likely a bit drier on the trail itself and covered in shade for most of the journey once you make it around the lake. We decided on doing this in Spring as it would be cooler for the 3 children that accompanied our group. The kids loved this hike, playing among the logs strewn about, and splashing in the lake on the way to the hike. If you look closely in the muddy puddles that dot the trail, you may just spot a Salamander. Bree attempted to kiss it, at her niece’s delight, to see if it would turn into a handsome prince, but alas….it did not. I have taken too many microbiology classes to attempt that, lol, handsome prince or not.
If you plan to go in Spring or Fall, be sure you do this hike in Keens or sturdy watershoes.
After about 2.2 miles the kids started to get tired, the trail was then covered in water and required those without water shoes to start bushwhacking. Those with water shoes were walking through sludgy mud that had pinecones and sticks, fantastic cushioning for your feet. Half of the group turned back at this point and then 0.25 miles later Bree and I were the only ones left on the trail with our dogs.
We hiked another mile or two through the rough conditions & I finally told Bree we had gone too far and I could no longer hear the ocean (our final projected destination). Reluctantly she agreed, and we turned back around to head into downtown Bandon and meet up with the rest of the group.
On our way back to the group (2 miles back), I noticed a metal pole with an indiscriminate trail on our left. I examined this closer, and it was a sign to another trail, I could also hear the ocean at this point. Pointing this out to Bree, she said some things I will not repeat here, and we both yelled our frustrations for the Forest to be witness to.
At this juncture we were both so exhausted we decided not to attempt another trail as our party had already been waiting quite awhile for us and headed into town, grumbling the whole way. If you have problems with tight calves like I do, when you hit the sandy area, walk closer to the shoreline for a more solid surface. It really aided in being able to make it back to the car.
Now, this was the second time I chided myself for my out-of-shapeness. Bree’s sister, however, is an active Triathalon Athlete, and even she was exhausted by the end of this trek. Moral of the story, don’t try hiking in heavily wooded areas without GPS, or something to tell you exactly how far you have traveled. I luckily had my Fitbit on me (not entirely accurate, but good enough of a guess) to tell us we hiked a total of 4.1 miles in 4.1 miles out and a total of 8.7 miles that day……ouch. We visited Cranberries sweets, and the washed ashore gallery that day as well, which are also in Bandon. I will post a full list of activities in Bandon within the next few months.
Bad luck Crabbing in Charleston:
Day three was an exciting day for our group and the kids go crazy seeing us catch crab. We headed over to Charleston to visit Davey Jones locker to get our crab gear and pots.
Arrive early and rent a pot, otherwise you will have to pay $29.95 to buy one. Out of state-vs-in-state licenses are going to be different pricing.
After getting our licenses and crab pots, we headed over to the pier and found there were plenty of people attempting to catch some delicious Dungeness crab. There are guides to show you what kind of crabs you are allowed to catch and which ones you are not. It is based on gender and measurements, you keep the males and their shells must be a certain length from side to side. If you want to watch a show I’m totally obsessed with, Deadliest Catch, you can see how they measure the crabs when they pull their crab pots in. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zp6ZwaO1Sps&t=4s
The best time to catch the crab is when it has not been raining for several days, and also at the end of summer. (Stay tuned for all the details of how to catch crab, along with more tips and tricks to make it memorable).
I was able to catch one crab for the seven of us for dinner. This was not going to be very filling for all seven of us feasting on one crab. Luckily there are some friendly folks who taught us how to cook our crab, clean the crab and even had a few more crab waiting there for us in the shop at the pier. As far as I could gather, this was the only place that sold crab, and in March of 2018 it was $5.99 per pound and they clean and cook it for you right there. We elected to cook it ourselves back at camp, so they cleaned it for us, put them on ice for us.
The Redemption Meal:
The crab turned out to be delicious! The most delicious crab I have ever had! There is nothing better than getting fresh crab, or fish from the rivers and oceans. We melted our butter over the campfire which gave it a nice smoky taste and then cooked some S’mores to top it off. I called this, the redemption meal because of how good it truly was. Are you salivating yet? If this has tickled your fancy for crab, head over to Whole foods and get your Crabby on 🙂
Witnessing Mother Nature at Shores Acre State Park:
This is the day that we were robbed…..by raccoons. Well, Bree’s Sister was robbed anyway, her food cooler was broken into by Raccoons. The food was everywhere, bags were ripped open and strewn about the camp. None of us thought that Raccoons knew how to open coolers, but apparently, they are evolving and getting smarter. Consider yourself warned!
Bree and I salvaged breakfast with French Toast, Eggs, and Turkey Bacon. The group then headed to Shores Acre State Park. The best time to go here is at High Tide, this way you can see just how powerful the ocean truly is. In spring and summer you won’t be able to witness the full extent of mother nature, but during a Winter Storm….prepare to be awed by the power of water.
There is a small shelter with a viewing platform that you can appreciate just how much the land has changed from the relentless pounding of the sea. Here you will also learn of a logging millionaire that built a mansion on these shores, complete with tennis courts that have since sunk into the ocean. If you pay attention you will see a large slab of concrete peeking out from under a blanket of Ivy that use to be the spot where his tennis courts were.
If you take the trail to the right of the viewing platform you will be able to see these tennis courts. Approximately 200 feet beyond the tennis courts is a unique area filled with, what I call, bubble rocks. These rocks and their current shapes, pockets, and bubble-like appearances were what has been sculpted by the seat itself. explore all the nooks and crannies with your kids or friends and witness the wonder of nature.
One thing I must stress to all my readers is to NEVER challenge the ocean, it will always win. The people in Oregon call those who visit, ‘Flat-landers’, those who come on vacation and do not have a healthy respect for the ocean. Do not travel in Oregon without a Tide Table booklet, these are available at any visitors center or major port city center. You can turn your back on the ocean and the next thing you know, you will be swept out to sea by the ‘sneeker waves’, as the Oregonians call them.
Facerock Wayside Beach and Sandy Labyrinths:
After some downtime after Bree’s sister’s family headed home, we went out to Facerock Wayside Beach for a special experience. I was particularly excited for this adventure. At Face Rock Wayside Beach, you will find a group of individuals that are committed to inner peace, healing and reconnecting with the humans that surround us.
This group was started by a man named Denny, who in an effort to find that inner peace, you started to draw in the sand. Circles in the Sand The drawings soon became large, intricate works of art that were a walking meditation for him. Word grew and soon it expanded into a Community of like-minded individuals who meet on the weekends to take the walk. Each walk has a theme and can be up to 0.5 miles of walking.
There is encouragement given as you decide to take the walk through the circles, to disconnect from the world around you and realize happiness comes not from our electronics but from the peace we find within our own hearts and minds. It helped me recenter my beliefs for our own community, that in order to truly be the change I wish to see in the world, first I need to be happy with myself.
Rain, Snow, Waterfalls, and Racoons:
After heading back to camp from the Circles in the sand appearance, we were enjoying a lazy and euphoric evening. Luckily our dogs were around, the rasciliy raccoon tripped over my tent stake, and triggered Zoey into a barking frenzy. Zoey is my dog that is part Cocker Spaniel, part poodle and definitely loves to chase animals of any kind.
My dog likes to think she is a bear, but in fact is a 16-pound ball of zest and fluff. Zoey pulled the leash right out of my hands and took off into the bushes after what I assumed was a squirrel. She deftly tracked the Raccoon up the tree where it stayed for the next hour with us examining it. This Raccoon was GINORMOUS! The raccoon was easily three times the size of Zoey, and likely had all sorts of creepy critters crawling on it that I didn’t want Zoey to inherit. I quickly gathered her up, calmed her down, took a few photos of the Raccoon, and then packed our own cooler in our car.
We couldn’t do much with our garbage as we had just been headed to bed, so we put the garbage in our extra cardboard box. The next morning we found the garbage bag ripped into, but all garbage was neatly contained in this box. We loaded it, and all our gear up into the car and headed out to Silver Falls State Park.
Haceta Head Lighthouse
Haceta Head is part of an interconnecting network of seven miles of varying difficulty of trails. You can stay in this lighthouse as a B&B, and then traipse down the trails viewing the seals, Eagles, and all wildlife along the trails. Explore the tide pools, go sea glass hunting, or simply enjoy the cool breezes coming off the Ocean.
We spent an hour or two in the area exploring trails and hunting for sea glass. It was o relaxing and wish we would have had more time in this area.
This is known as the drainpipe of the sea. This natural sea cave pounded out by the crashing waves is about 20 feet deep (approximately). Then the roof caved in and created an opening that sucked in the sea and pounded it into the floor. Eventually it became known as Thor’s well. Like most everything else in Oregon, this phenomenon is its most glorious at high tide. If you want an even more spectacular show, go at sunrise or sunset as well and get a shot that will shock even the most professional of photographers.
Silver Falls State Park
In checking the weather on the way to Silver Falls State Park, I discovered we were heading to an area where it was actually going to snow. I only own a 3 season tent and was worried about being too cold when we got there, especially Zoey as she doesn’t handle temperatures lower than 45 degrees very well. Luckily Bree was able to reserve a small Yurt or cabin for us for when we arrived at Silver Falls State Park. These are often equipped with an outdoor firepit, picnic table, electricity, beds, and a small heater that really does a stellar job. We were both so happy to have a warm place to dry off our clothes, we stayed here awhile just to enjoy the warmth.
The cabin costs about $61 per night with dogs. At Silver Falls State Park there are only two cabins that are available for those with animals, so be sure to book early.
Many trails within Silver Falls State Park do not allow animals on them (for unknown reasons other than water contamination). So renting a cabin is a great way for you to put the pooches in a warm area that is contained and protected from visiting wildlife. Our first stop was to South Falls, the most iconic waterfall of the entire park. This towering monstrosity drops 177 feet (53.95 meters) into the River below. There are several different areas to take iconic photos, the first being at the top of the viewing platform. This is a platform where you can park your car and walk to the edge of the stone shelf and take a photo. The other photo areas are along the trail itself, with one location before the bridge, and one location on the bridge itself.
From the bridge you have several options:
1- Continue along the trail that will bring you to a total of 10 different Waterfalls, each with its own unique appearance. 2- Take the trail up, around, and behind the waterfall. This is the option we chose as we were running out of daylight. Hiking behind the waterfall was not like anything I have experienced. The sheer drop of the water into the river below sends reverberating sounds into the caverns that you hike through. It truly is an experience like none other, as these sounds are so loud you can hardly hear yourself speak and feel the thunder sink into your chest. We stayed behind the waterfall for some time, getting soaked from the spray of the waterfall and the rain that had begun for the evening. I wanted to stay there forever, just watching the mesmerizing fall of the water into the river below.
Bring a Poncho with you, or a garbage bag that you can drape over yourself to help you from getting soaked. If you are taking photos, make sure that your camera is either waterproof or has a protective covering like a shower cap on it to help keep out the majority of the spray from the waterfall.
Giants, Elves, and getting lost in Ferngully:
Leaving the warmth of that cabin was entirely too difficult. I wanted to stay and explore all the waterfalls within Silver Falls State Park! Alas, our itinerary did not allow for enough time to explore properly. If you want to properly explore Silver Falls State Park, make sure you allot for AT LEAST 4 days in this park. Loading up our gear, and our pups, we headed to Willamette National Forest to hike the Tamolitch Blue Pool Trail.
When we arrived at this trail, we were both greeted by a place that looked as if fairies would live here. This hike tracks the river for about 2.0 miles up to a spectacular Blue Pool of water fed by the McKenzie River. We assumed that it would be easy for us to spot, but after hiking for what seemed like ages, we ran out of time and ended up turning back. We did not have GPS, nor did our cell phones have service to let us know where we were.
After coming back home we realized we were 0.25 miles away from where it actually was. I don’t believe that trail is only 2.5 miles though personally, my Fitbit said I had gone 3.92 miles by the time we turned around. We were extremely disappointed about missing this feature as this is a very popular trail. Be sure you explore the Tamolitch Blue Pool Trail on Google Maps and drop the little man to see what it looks like on a normal day. There are several areas that appear to be the right spot, but alas are no.
The trail was not a total loss for me, I had no idea what we were hiking towards, so wasn’t really disappointed when we had to turn around. The trail was absolutely stunning! There was moss over EVERYTHING and the areas that you could see the river were breathtaking. When I visit Oregon again, I will definitely have to do this trail again as I really enjoyed just playing in this forest that looked like I was walking in Ferngully.
The Hot Spring that Isn’t So Hot:
Hiking 6-8 miles a day for me is a big deal, I have a typical desk job that I sit for most of the day taking care of my patients. Needless to say, my body hurt by day 6 and I was ready for a nice soak in a boiling Hot Spring. Heading to Bigelow Hot Springs after our failed attempt at reaching the Blue Pool. Parking the car in a nearby parking slot, we headed back across the road and to the left trail along the bank of the river.
The Bigelow Hot Springs was only a 0.1-mile trek in if that. Make sure you come with water shoes because the rocks are not friendly on bare feet. This Hot Springs I feel was very deceiving in many ways. When you first see it, it is on the right-hand side of the river with rocks that form a sort of hot tub appearance. The bank of the river is 12 inches away from this Hot Spring and would be fantastic in the Summertime.
There was steam coming off the top of the water and my excitement level peaked because I thought for sure it was going to be piping hot. I peeled off my clothes with my swimming suit underneath I fumbled my way across the rocks and into the pool, anticipating delicious warmth from the frigid cold air. I was sorely disappointed at the initial dip of my foot but wanted it to be warm so badly I decided to venture further into the pool. There was no area of this Hot Spring that was an actual HOT spring, it was more like a tepid bath……highly disappointing.
We only stayed in the bogus Bigelow Hot Spring for about five minutes. If you were to come in the summertime it would be fantastic though. The spring would be tepid enough to not overheat you, a good place to wash off the grime of camping and lounge by the river. In the Spring and Fall getting out of this spring will be frosty, not to the point of snot-sickles.
Whatever part of your body you decide to immerse in the water will quickly become numb upon emerging from the spring. Cougar Hot Springs is the better Hot Springs as it is so hot, that you have to experience it in small doses. Unfortunately, the road was closed due to a rock slide and we could not safely reach it according to the Willamette National Forest Service Website. Make sure to check conditions of roads prior to visiting the different areas in the Pacific Northwest as the road conditions are dynamic. If you want to check out other Hot Springs in Oregon, check out the Oregon Hot Springs Website, for the information you will need about the different Hot Springs.
A Perfectly Picturesque Conclusion with Sand dollars:
There are not many people that know about this beach, and I hesitate to share this with you because it is so fantastic but come on, I have to share it with my Culture Trekking Crew! It is marked as just a Picnic area in Crescent City, but is a beach full of Sand dollars!
If you go at low tide earlier in the day you will see that the beach has sand dollars. When Bree told me about this I imagined a beach with all the Sand dollars in perfect condition lining the Beach. When you actually get there, you have to look for the Sand dollars. I would suggest going close to the waterline and looking for white pieces.
If you find a greenish looking Sand Dollar, please put it back as this is still alive sand dollar. There will be broken ones and whole ones of the white Sand dollars, these are ones that have already died. We went at low tide later in the evening and it looks like people had already picked the beach for the whole sand dollars.
The sunsets here are amazing and would suggest you take a picnic and enjoy it as a perfect ending to your trip along the Southern Oregon Coast.
The Lessons Learned for our next Oregon Coast Camping Trip:
Overall the trip was an utter success, with many memories that will stay with me for a very long time. Some things that I took away from this trip that I would do differently for next time: get a paper map for any trails we go on, get a GPS device, bring more sweaters, allow more time for enjoying the journey, and don’t try to take a dip in the hot springs when it is 45 degrees outside and you can’t defrost in a hot shower afterwards.
Make sure to check out my car camping list for any items you may need for your trip. This list will continue to be honed down and carefully crafted to help you travel. I will also be posting detailed videos of my experience & crucial information for your trip on the Culture Trekking YouTube Channel, be sure to subscribe and stay tuned.
Top Highlights of our Oregon Coast Camping trip were definitely Silver Falls State Park, Tokatee Falls, and the Sand Dollar Beach. As always my friends: Happy Travels, Happy Tales, and see you on the Flipside.