Klamath Region Circle of Parks, Northern California and Southern Oregon
(clockwise from top right: Lassen Volcanic National Park, CA; Crater Lake National Park, OR; Oregon Caves National Monument, OR; Redwood National Park, CA )
The Circle of Parks in the Klamath Region of Northern California and Southern Oregon includes some of America's natural wonders. In addition to the parks mentioned in the above picture, the Circle of Park also includes the Lava Beds National Monument and Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. Redwood and Lassen are worth staying for a week, but because of limited time and so many places to see, we decided to make the most of our trip by seeing several parks in 9 days trip.
The nearest park in the list from San Diego is Lassen Volcanic National Park. However, it is a 10.5 hour drive, thus, instead of driving directly to Lassen Volcanic, we decided to stop first at Monterey to avoid the long drive in one day both in going to and coming back from the Klamath Region Circle of Parks.
Day 1 of Trip @ Big Sur, CA
( clockwise from top right: Elephant Seals, Point Piedras Blancas; McWay Falls, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park; North Cove; Point Lobos State Reserve; Cypress Grove, Point Lobos State Reserve)
My favorite part in driving to Monterey is passing Big Sur. Even though Big Sur is not a National Park, but it definitely is one of my favorite places in California.
Day 2: Sunflower Farm, somewhere in Sacramento Valley on the way to Lassen Volcanic
There were just acres and acres of sunflower fields as we were driving the road. Our world was filled with unbelievably yellow.
Day 2: Bumpass Hell, Lassen Volcanic National Park, CA
( clockwise from top right: Big Boiler, Turquoise Steaming Pool, Cold Emerald Pool, Snowy Trail to Bumpass Hell )
As we have learned, there are other geothermal features in Lassen Volcanic that really caught our interest, however, because of time and physical constraints, we could not make them.
3rd day, we explored the rest of the Southern part of Lassen Volcanic National Park.
Day 3: Exploring Lassen Volcanic National Park
( clockwise from top right: attempt to hike Lassen Peak, Lake Helen, Steam Vents and Wildflowers at Sulphur Works, Exposed Colored Earth )
4th day, From Lassen Volcanic, we moved North to Mt Shasta, enjoying several parks along the way.
Day 4: North Region of Lassen Volcanic to Mt Shasta
( clockwise from top right: Mountain Cascades @ Lassen; The Face of Mt Lassen; Manzanita Lake; Subway Cave, a lava tube cave )
Our first major stop was at Manzanita Lake, in the Northern part of Lassen Volcanic National Park.
Lassen Peak and its Reflection on Manzanita Lake, Lassen Volcanic National Park
After taking in the calming beauty of Manzanita Lake, we continued proceeding North and stopped at Subway Cave ( a lava tube cave, in day 4 picture above ) in the Lassen National Forest. After Subway Cave, we continued North to Burney Falls State Park.
Burney Falls State Park, CA
( can you find me here? )
Burney Falls is not the tallest nor the widest waterfall in California, but definitely, the most unique waterfall I have ever seen. Most of the waterfalls I saw were the result of a drop off from a running stream, whereas Burney Falls is a combination of drop off and spring water that comes out from the rocks. Around this area, you will see a lot of rocks where spring water comes out. We spent some time here enjoying the water, the sound of the waterfall, and also, tasting the spring water.
Mt Shasta, CA
After we were done with Burney Falls, we continued North to Mt Shasta area.
5th day, we drove North from Mt Shasta, CA to Crater Lake National Park, OR.
Day 5: Crater Lake National Park, OR
We reached Crater Lake before lunch, so we had time for shopping ( souvenir ), a real good lunch at the hotel, and photographing.
" Crater Lake combines a deep, pure lake, so blue in color; sheer surrounding cliffs, almost 2,000 ft high; two picturesque islands; and a volcanic past that can not be seen nowhere on Earth." - http://www.nps.gov/crla
Sheer Colored Cliffs and Reflection, Crater Lake National Park, OR
The deep blue color of the lake is due to its depth, absorbing all colors and reflecting only blue. As I gazed into its deep blue color, I know I don't have to hunt for more blue pictures for Zen :) . About an hour after lunch, we hiked down to the lake shore to experience the deep blue lake really up close. The hike was probably the most unforgiving trail I ever took because of the mosquitoes :( I guess, California dry weather free from mosquitoes spoiled me a lot and caught me unprepared from all the unforgiving mosquito bites :(
6th day, from Crater Lake, we headed South to Redwood National Park, CA but stopping along the way at Oregon Caves National Monument.
Day 6: Oregon Caves National Monument (top), Redwood National and State Parks, CA ( bottom )
Redwood National and State Parks is a World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve protecting resources cherished by citizens of different nations. The park is the home of the world's tallest trees and also of some of the oldest living things on Earth.
Having Fun in the Midst of Redwood ForestRedwoods can reach up to 379 ft high, almost 6 stories higher than the Statue of Liberty. But Redwood National and State Parks is not just about redwoods alone, being right next to the Pacific Ocean, the park offers a lot of outdoor activities other than hiking and river rafting.
The Life @ Sea, Redwood National and State Parks, CA
The park also offers a great site for marine mammal watching ( saw some seals and sea lions on shore) such as whales, seals and dolphins, tidepooling (we got there at low tide and enjoyed the tidepool, above picture ), and it hosts a lot of wildflowers and other plant species. It also is an estuary for salmon, and sea birds. Elks abound in its meadows as well, really a nice place for wildlife watching.
7th day, we explored further what Redwood National and State Parks offer, and then left the park and drove South to Mendocino.
Day 7: Exploring Redwood National and State Parks
( clockwise from top left: Elks, Blue Jay, Wild Raspberry, Klamath Cove )
We took the Coastal Drive and Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, did little hiking in the Tall Trees grove and in Big Tree. Then, we took a relaxing hike at Fern Canyon,
Fern Canyon, Redwood National and State Parks, CA
one of the amazing beauties from nature I found. The canyon has 30 ft walls, dripping wet and full of ferns. This site had been used in Jurassic Park movie series. After Fern Canyon, we left Redwood National and State Parks and drove South to Mendocino taking the Avenue of the Giants.
8th day, we left Mendocino for Monterey, our final stop before finally heading back to San Diego.
8th Day: Drive from Mendocino to Monterey
( clockwise from top left: Big River Lagoon, Mendocino; Navarro River Redwoods State Park; Sea Lions @ Pier 39, San Francisco; The Golden Gate Bridge)
Actually, we were supposed to take Highway 1 from Mendocino, stopping at Point Reyes National Seashore before proceeding to Monterey, however, we took the wrong turn, and we ended up driving 101 instead of 1, and we ended up arriving in San Francisco early enough which was not part of the plan. We walked around and enjoyed downtown San Francisco before finally heading to Monterey for the night.
9th day, we're not getting enough of the ocean probably, since the water was too cold for diving and exploring, we started our day making a visit to Monterey Aquarium before heading back to San Diego.
9th Day: Monterey to Home
( clockwise from top left: Khai photographing the jelly fish at Monterey Aquarium, Jelly Fish, Me enjoying the wildflower filled trail at Big Sur, Big Sur from Nepenthe Restaurant )
Luck was on our side during the trip, since when we left San Diego, the sky was so gray and drizzling, when we arrived, it was also drizzling. Yet, during our trip, we had blue skies in Lassen Volcanic and Crater Lake, places which usually gets more rain than Southern California :)
Hope you enjoyed taking a trip with us.
- Betchai -