The Pacific Northwest

There is something quite special about the Pacific Northwest.  It boasts forested land with trees like you’ve never seen, spectacular crystal blue lakes and rushing rivers offer the best in fishing and rafting.  And, let’s not forget about the ocean and the beautiful coastline.

Granted, driving the 2-lane roads leading over to the coast can often leave me turning green (car sick don’t ya know?) but once there the views are stunning!  The Umpqua Scenic Byway though is an inland drive and well-worth exploring.

Umpqua Scenic Drive

Arriving at the first stop on the Umpqua Scenic Drive, we found ourselves at, Mill Creek Falls.  In our eagerness to find the falls we just headed down the first branch of the trail we saw.  Had we paid better attention to the huge map in the parking area we would not have taken a couple of wrong turns.  Eventually, we found our way to the falls and it proved to be well-worth the extra steps.

Umpqua Science Byway
Mill Creek Falls – Falling 173 feet – discovered around 1882 when the nearby town of Prospect was founded.
Natural Bridge Interpretive Trail

Stop #2 – Natural Bridge Interpretive Trail.  As you head up the trail you may be thinking you need to spot a bridge at this point, but it’s not really what you’re looking for.  Instead, the “bridge” is a massive bed of lava rock where the river disappears.  Yep, it really does disappear and it’s an amazing thing to see. The water flows through an underground lava tube and shoots out further down river.  It is mother nature at her finest, creating such wonders!

Umpqua Scenic Byway
The mighty Rogue River
Umpqua Scenic Byway
Flowing underground through a lava tube, the river all but disappears creating a natural bridge.
Pie & Ice Cream

There is no way we could travel Hwy 62 along the Umpqua Scenic Byway without making a stop (#3) at Beckie’s Cafe.  Beckie’s is a classic and is known far and wide (in these parts) for their homemade pies and we never pass by without stopping. This time though, we were ready for lunch so we took a big step beyond ordering pie and we sat ourselves down in a cozy wooden booth and ordered burgers, salad and fries.  Yum-o!  Yes, of course we ordered pie to go. Silly question.

Beckie's at Union Creek on Hwy 62
Beckie’s at Union Creek on Hwy 62
Berry pie!
Very berry pie!
A Really Big Chair

I also took just a moment to take a seat in what I believe must have been Paul Bunyan’s chair.  Getting in was easy, just slide back.  Getting out, well, that took a helping hand!

Paul Bunyan's chair. Where else have you seen this photo?
Paul Bunyan’s chair. Where else have you seen this photo?
Mt. Theilsen

Moving on down the road we witnessed the Pacific Northwest at it’s most stunning!  We started to see this incredibly massive mountain in front of us. I don’t believe we’ve ever seen such a sight!  Take a look at Mt. Theilsen! Stop #4.

Mount Thielsen
Mount Thielsen

In the same vicinity is Diamond Lake, stop #5, which looked beautiful from our roadside viewing area.  Because it was getting late in the afternoon and we wanted to make a couple of more “must see” stops, we opted not to drive down to the shores of Diamond Lake.  We will return another day.

Diamond Lake
Diamond Lake
Watson Falls

Stop #6, Watson Falls, was a highlight of the day, no doubt about it! Definitely a “must see” stop for anyone in the area.  Sixteen miles west of Diamond Lake, Watson Falls is reportedly the 3rd tallest falls in Oregon.  I know, I know, you’re wondering which ones are #1 and #2?  The trail takes one fairly close to the base of the falls, actually you are almost “aside” the falls by the time you reach the end of the trail.  Although at times it felt a bit longer, the trail is less than a mile, 0.6 so the internet tells me.  It was an easy climb, didn’t leave me winded.

First glimpse of the falls
First glimpse of the falls

The trail was, however, a series of switchbacks through the very green and lush forest.  Sometimes my mind wanders to the strangest places and as we were climbing the trail Daniel Day Lewis and Madeline Stowe suddenly popped in to my head!  Even though the movie (The Last of the Mohicans) is graphically violent, it is full of awesome moments. Who can forget Daniel Day Lewis standing behind the waterfall telling Madeline Stowe to “Stay Alive!”  “I will find you!”  I mean please, does it get any better?

Not a tremendous amount of water, but it falls 272
Not a tremendous amount of water, but it falls 272 feet
Where 3 Rivers Come Together

Glide, a blink of a town where 3 rivers come together, our 7th and last stop on our day trip.  Well, technically, dinner in Roseburg was our last stop, but this was the last nature stop of the day.  Because we only had the one day, we did not even begin to see everything along the byway.  We missed a lot of falls and other great sites, but we covered a lot of territory and enjoyed a beautiful day.  I think it gives us a reason to make the trip again, perhaps heading in the opposite direction this time?  If you find yourself in southern Oregon, in a car, never miss the opportunity to drive the Umpqua Scenic Byway.  It is a prime example of mother nature at her finest!

Three rivers collide
Three rivers collide

The Umpqua Scenic Byway is #2 in our series of highlights of southern Oregon highlights.

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