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  • Writer's pictureShayna Gaman-Bean

CA - OR - WA Loop

Updated: Oct 26, 2022

"Some beautiful paths can't be discovered without getting lost." ~ Erol Ozan

The idea for this trip all started when we were invited to a wedding near Seattle during the pandemic. It was at a point where the numbers in Oregon and Washington were low, so it felt relatively safe, all considering. And it seemed to make sense to make it a road trip because of the pandemic, we had a new puppy who we wanted to bring with us, and we wanted to include my parents for the 1st few days of the trip. We "accidentally" discovered this great loop that takes you through several beautiful parks along with a few other surprises along the way.

First Stop:

We left the Sacramento area and headed to Burney Falls . It was my first time there even though I've been to Lassen and Shasta (which are both very close by) a bunch of times. Not sure how I missed this one, because it was spectacular. You can almost make out the water falls from the parking lot, but it is definitely worth the short hike to view the falls up close. They are stunningly beautiful and emit this fresh cool air almost as it you're in the giant room with the most refreshing air conditioning. And it was very welcome this day because it was so hot! We saw people hiking along the river at the base of the falls, people just hanging out and having a picnic and a few people fishing. There were quite a few people there, but we still very much enjoyed our visit and would highly recommend it!

We hung out for lunch and to let the dogs (we had our puppy Kylo and my parents' dog Bernie and dogs are not welcome on the trail so we had to take turns watching the dogs) stretch their legs.

After a couple hours there exploring we hit the road. I would definitely recommend more time there to explore, we left because we were anxious to get to Oregon.

Second Stop:

From Burney Falls we headed north to Crater Lake, well actually the nearby town of Prospect, Oregon. It took about 3.5 hours to get there from Burney Falls. We checked into our cabin at Union Creek Resort . It was a beautiful cabin in the woods near a beautiful river. The cabin was 3 bedroom and 2 bathroom with a kitchen and cozy living room. It was perfect for our party of 7 along with 2 dogs. They are dog friendly which was obviously a must for us.

The next day the plan was to explore Crater Lake, but we had heard there was a nearby Lava Tubes and we had to check it out. It's an easy hike and definitely worth a visit to check out the river and natural bridges.

Lava tube:

After spending some time there we headed to Crater Lake, about 30 minutes away. Most activities at the lake were closed this day because of the pandemic, so we drove around the lake (about 20 miles) and stopped at several viewpoints and eventually found a spot to have lunch.

Fun facts: Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States at 1943 feet deep. It is the most beautiful blue color because there are no inlets, all the water is from rain or snow. It was formed 7700 years ago from the collapse of the volcano Mount Mazama. There are 2 small islands in the lake.

Suggested Hike: Watchman Peak Trail, about 1.7 miles with 360 degree views of the lake.

Third Stop:

The next day we said goodbye to my parents and headed to Washington. We had zero cell service and forgot a map (always bring paper maps on road trips!!) so we headed in the direction that seemed right and eventually were able to get cell service about 30 minutes later. Phew!

We drove by Mount Thielsen which is absolutely majestic, definitely worth checking out.

We spent most of our day on the road. We would have loved to explore Portland, but we happen to be driving through during the riots and it was one of the most dangerous days. So we decided to pass and make the most of our time in Seattle...

We were actually staying in West Bothell because that was the location of the wedding. Bothell is a beautiful suburb of Seattle and just about 30 minutes away. Things to do in Bothell .

Fourth Stop:

Our first full day in Washington was spent at Mount Rainier . One of my most favorite parks! We drove though a good portion of the park which is so lush and green, unlike many I've seen. All that rain Washington gets really pays off! We headed to Stevens Canyon Road Entrance to officially enter the park and find a spot to hike. We spent some time exploring Paradise . The wildflowers and scenery was stunningly beautiful and so colorful. Along the way we found some beautiful places for photo ops to take some pics with the mountain.

We found a cute little stream that had a bunch of frogs and the kids enjoyed hanging out there for a while.

Suggested hikes including: Nisqually Vista Trail, Bench & Snow Lakes Trail, and Skyline Trail. They're all 1-3 miles roundtrip with great views.

Fifth Stop:

This was wedding day, but since the wedding was in the evening we spent most of the day exploring Seattle. We enjoyed lots of seafood at Miner's Landing (definitely find some fired oysters!) and a ride on the Seattle Great Wheel . The view from the top of the wheel is amazing and we were even able to see Mount Rainier! The city is so beautiful, we all enjoyed exploring along with our puppy.

Then it was time to head to the wedding.

Sixth Stop:

Time to head home. On the way home we made a pit stop in one of my favorite Oregon towns Ashland .

Things to do in Ashland... and I highly recommend Lithia Park and the Shakespeare Festival (number 1 and 2 on that list of things to do). We let the kids play at Lithia Park for a while and we walked a ways back into the park on the trails. Brought back some great memories!

We arrived home super late that night and were so ready to crash in our own beds. Another fun family adventure.



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