Southern Oregon: Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway
Length: 140 miles / 224.0 km
Time to Allow: Plan for 5 to 7 hours to tour this byway.
Fees: There is a fee to enter Crater Lake National Park.
The Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway is located in south-central Oregon about 5 1/2 hours south and east of Portland. It can be reached via paved highways and freeways. Located about 80 miles east of the I-5 corridor, a one-hour drive will access the byway from Medford, a two-hour drive will access the byway from Roseburg, and a 2 1/2-hour drive will access the byway from Eugene. All of these drives are on two-lane, paved highways.
The northern end of the byway is the Diamond Lake Junction on US 97 about halfway between Bend and Klamath Falls. The southern end of the byway is the Oregon/California border on US 97.
This diverse byway follows the brims of lakes, diverse wetlands, scenic ranches, thriving croplands, and forests full of bald eagles. It passes brilliant Crater Lake National Park and historic Crater Lake Lodge.
It also threads its way through volcanic landscapes, craggy mountain reaches, and high-desert wetlands. As the byway passes the 90,000 surface-acre Upper Klamath Lake, you can see more than 1 million birds during peak migrations in the fall. The Klamath Basin is the largest freshwater ecosystem west of the Great Lakes. Six National Wildlife Refuges in these wetlands were favorite fishing spots of President Roosevelt.
You also can visit the same Pelican Bay where John Muir (naturalist, writer, conservationist, and founder of the Sierra Club) wrote The Story of My Boyhood and Youth in 1908.
Points of Interest
Applegate Trail - The Applegate route, blazed by Jesse and Lindsay Applegate's party in 1846, connected the California and Oregon trails and figured centrally in the settling of Klamath County (the county that accommodates famous and historic Crater Lake.) The trail has been traveled countless times as part of the Volcanic Scenic Byway since 1846, but a party of five from Klamath County re-enacted the harsh, original trip on horseback in 1992.
Your trip (by vehicle) will begin by entering Klamath County via highway 66, continue by crossing the fabled Klamath River, pass through the pine-studded town of Keno, and enter the rich Klamath Basin, which is noted for its abundance of wildlife, productive agricultural land, and dense forests.
The trail ends after you come out of the basin and enter the Czechoslovakian-settled town of Malin, Calif.
Baldwin Hotel Museum - This hotel, built in 1906 from locally-manufactured brick, is listed on state and national historic registers. Tours show off period furnishings and clothing, both set up as if someone left the room just for a minute.
At a soaring four stories, it was the tallest building in town. Sen. George Baldwin operated this Victorian hotel while maintaining his hardware store and livery stable, and while leading civic activity. His family, (particularly his daughter, Maud) was equally involved in the running of the hotel and they entertained such dignitaries as President Theodore Roosevelt during his several hunting and fishing trips to Klamath Falls.
President Roosevelt stayed in The Baldwin during the trip in which he dedicated the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge, the nation's first wildlife refuge, and the President also signed the papers creating Crater Lake National Park in The Baldwin's hotel lobby.
Crater Lake National Park - Crater Lake, one of the deepest lakes in America, once a towering mountain, is now America's deepest lake, at 1,932 feet. You can drive around its thirty-three mile circumference, hike the nearby mountain trails to spectacular waterfalls, or picnic near wide fields of wildflowers.
To many people, winter is the best time to enjoy the solitude, mystery, and the (then) icy beauty of the lake. Camping and other recreational activities, such as skiing along the snow-covered west rim drive, are especially great in the park's gorgeous winter, which typically lasts from October to June. More about Crater Lake National Park.