Central Oregon is nothing short of spectacular! We spent several weeks exploring the area and in that time, toured two museums, hiked to a waterfall, hiked through a cave, and spent time with precious friends.
Clearwater: Thanks to Brendan and Sam of Life Among Pines, we found ourselves tucked into a forest on unincorporated land where we were able to stay for free up to 14 days. Brendan and Sam left a great review on Campendium, and were so sweet in their encouragement to us in a note following our stay. We’ve said it before, and will say it over and over again – the RV community is full of wonderful, generous people!
Clearwater provided us with incredible views, great trails and nearby access to the breathtaking Toketee Falls. It was a remote location near Diamond Lake and Crater Lake. You can read our review of Clearwater, and the reviews of many others, right here.
Toketee Falls: This hike is what lead to our discovery of Clearwater. This happens often – we learn about an incredible attraction and then search for camping in the area. In this case, we learned about Toketee Falls by watching an episode of Keep Your Daydream. Their footage of Toketee Falls is what landed this hike on our “must do” list.
If you ever make your way to Oregon and don’t mind a little bit of mud beneath your feet, this hike is one that you won’t want to miss! Our four children were able to navigate the terrain comfortably. Granted, they have been hiking for years but we think that the trail would prove to be easy to moderate for most people. There are some steep places, several sets of stairs and a few slippery spots with mud so we recommend taking it slow, which shouldn’t be a problem since there is so much to stop and take in. If you are in search of natural eye candy in Oregon, this hike will not disappoint!
Bend: We are fortunate to have several friends who live in Oregon and are especially thankful for Tod and Sarah Eshpeter. Sarah and Kate worked together years ago, and our two families ended up working with the same foster care agency to adopt our children. Tod and Sarah have two biological boys and two adopted children. Sound familiar?
When they offered their driveway to us for two weeks, we were elated! It was so great to connect with their family, adventure together, and encourage each other in the unique parenting challenges that we collectively share. Tod and Sarah took us to a beautiful park in Bend, located right on the Deschutes River, which lead to a trail that took us from city to forest in a matter of moments. It was an incredible experience! We also explored Pilot Butte and Boyd Cave together.
Pilot Butte: Just East of Bend, Pilot Butte once served as a landmark for wagon train immigrants who were crossing the Deschutes River. Though we didn’t hike the butte, there are trails available. At the top sits a compass that points to the incredible views of Three Sisters, Mt. Jefferson, Black Butte and Mt. Hood. Though we didn’t capture video of this adventure (nor did we capture footage of our afternoon spent exploring Three Sisters), we highlight recommend a hike or drive to the top of Pilot Butte for an inspiring 360 degree view.
Boyd Cave: Formed roughly 10,000 years ago, the lava tube is over one mile long. Though chilly (we forgot our jackets!), it was an incredible experience. At a crisp 42 degrees, the temperature drop was quite intense as we entered the cave however, after a few moments of hiking and exploring, our goosebumps were no longer a result of he chill. We were in awe of the preserved lava formations and couldn’t believe how lucky we were to hike and crawl through such a unique space!
If you plan to venture to Boyd Cave, keep in mind that the entrance is six feet wide and the only way in is via a steep staircase. Take a sweater, along with water and a headlamp so that you can keep your hands free for climbing. We recommend taking a few extra flashlights or headlamps as a precaution in the event that your primary light goes out. It is also important to note that the cave does require a fair amount of climbing and crouching, and does have a section where crawling on your stomach is required. We opted to turn around and head back when we reached the crawl wall. Too many little ones under our toes to keep safe in that environment!
High Desert Museum: Our final attraction in Bend was the High Desert Museum where we spent an afternoon engaged with living history. We are museum buffs and as such, have pretty high standards for organizations that claim to have something for everybody. This museum did not disappoint!
From a rock climbing wall to an old camper van to play in, we were kept very busy! We built a suspension bridge, inspected an Oregon Trail wagon, and learned about the history of the Plateau Indian Nations. Every corner we turned was met with excitement and gasps of wonder. There was so much to see and learn, and we wish we had the time to stay longer or return another day. We give this museum our highest recommendation!
Erickson Aircraft Museum: After saying our goodbyes to the Eshpeter family, we headed to Madras where we secured two nights on their property. Not just on their property, but right next to their runway. Being the aviation obsessed family that we are (Kate and Jason especially), it was a thrill to spend two days listening to and watching planes come and go. We were giddy!
The aircraft collection inside of the museum is impressive! It boasts over twenty rare and unique planes that still fly. We were encouraged to explore, ask questions and peek inside of the planes that had open access. We cannot rave enough about our stay and tour of the museum and hope that if you find yourself in Oregon, you make this a stop along the way.
If you would like to stay on the property at the Erickson Aircraft Museum, check out Harvest Host. We are not affiliated with Harvest Host (except that we have a membership) and do not benefit in any way if you choose to sign up. We are just big fans of unique camping opportunities and love to promote the generosity of places like the Erickson Aircraft Museum.
We packed a lot into this episode and post! If you have any questions about what you’ve watched or read, please leave a comment below and we will be happy to connect! In our next episode, we will celebrate our youngest child’s birthday and take you with us as we continue to explore more of Oregon, which is a truly magnificent state!