National Park trip: Crater Lake, the Redwoods, and Lassen National Parks

One of our goals as a couple is to see all of the national parks in the U.S. We actually keep a little map in our house where we put stickers on the parks we’ve been to. This past weekend we ventured out on a mini road trip through parts of the northwest to hit 3 national parks.

Our original plan was to head west and spend 4 days in Sequoia National Park. Due to the fires in the area and a prediction of unfavorable conditions, we made a week of decision to change our course. We tossed around Bandlands, Yellowstone, or Tetons, but ultimately decided that since we had a few extra days off we were going to go as far as we could and see as much as we could. So, we plotted out a route to see Crater Lake, Redwoods, and Lassen Volcanic National Parks. 3 parks passing through 4 states in 4 1/2 days!
We left on Thursday afternoon and drove the long stretch from SLC to Crater Lake, OR. We decided to drive as far as we could and stop whenever we felt like we were done for the day. We have a 50/50 rule when it comes to driving so we each took turns behind the wheel. We drove through the desert of Nevada and enjoyed the sunset along the mountains. Time seemed to go quickly due to a binge listening of the Serial podcast. Derek had heard it before, I hadn’t; we listened to like 10 episodes back to back which is the time frame it takes to gets to Oregon! We made it to Klamath Falls, OR. One of the last little towns before the park.

After a brief hotel stay at an awesome resort ranch in the area (something Derek surprised me with), we drove the hour we had left to Crater Lake on Friday. Crater Lake is impressive. It’s beautiful and the water is just so blue! We drove the crater rim loop and stopped at various viewpoints as well as doing a short hike to Plaikni falls.

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Although there is not as much to do in this park as others, we could have done some other longer hikes, but given our packed agenda we headed on to Northern California.  In 2010, for our first anniversary, we did a California roadtrip from the Redwoods down to San Diego. So, we have been in the Redwoods before, but it became one of our favorite parks after that trip and it was an easy decision to stop there again. On our first trip to the Redwoods we stopped in a little beach town for dinner. We were convinced this time around that that town was Crescent City. So all day Friday we were excited to stop and eat in Cresent City before setting up camp. Turns out our memories failed us and Cresent City was not the little beach town we remembered from before. We ate a platter of fried seafood there anyway after a scenic drive through Stout Grove and then set up camp amongst the Redwoods. On Saturday, we drove to the southern part of the park and stopped at various trails and beaches along the way back up to our campsite. The Redwoods are just incredible! You feel like a tiny ant as you walk among them. Derek said they almost seem aliens, like the don’t belong on this plant. We checked out out the Trees of Mystery and took a gondola ride up to the top of the forest, took a beach walk along Dry Lagoon, hiked the Lady Bird Johnson, Big Tree, and Cathedral Loop Trails, wandered through Fern Canyon, and ate dinner on the beach where the Klamath River meets the ocean. There we watched around 30 seals and sea lions frolicking in the waves where the river rushes in to the Pacific. We watched them chase birds, dive for fish, and surf on the waves.

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After a pit stop in Trinidad (which turned out to be the beach town we were looking for earlier!) and one in Redding, we arrived in Lassen on Sunday afternoon. We hiked to Bumpass’s Hell (yes, that’s it’s name) which is a large area of sulphuric mud pits that you can view from pathways connecting them to each other. You smell the strong stench of sulphur and see the smoke almost immediately as the mud bubbles up from the pits. These sulphuric pits are in various parts of the volcanic park. We saw others right off the road at Sulphur Works after a short hike to two mountain lakes.

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That night, Derek built a fire after we set up camp again, and we enjoyed the cool mountain evening under the stars. We packed up camp for the last time Monday morning, stopped at the Devastated Area and Manzanita Lake, and then began the journey through California and Nevada back to Salt Lake City.

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