Travel north from Eugene on Interstate 5 for about two and half hours and you can view Mt. St. Helens. Currently the mountain has come back to life after a few years of slumber. At present the lava dome inside the crater is growing and on clear days you can see steam rising from the crater.
About 20 years ago Mt. St. Helens "blew". The whole north side blew into the air and spread ashes and debris for tens of miles. Sixty some people were killed in the erutptions which goes to show: "Don't mess with the mountain."
I remember that day. I was taking a shower, being fairly early in the morning. I remember hearing what I supposed was a truckload of metal ashcans banging along the street in front of the house. Come to find out it was the sound of the eruption, audible some 140 miles from its source. Later, we lived with the anxiety of ashfalls from the mountain. Every once in a while it would burb and throw ash clouds into the air. The ash fell where ever the wind happened to be blowing. We all kept surgical masks in our cars and homes in the event. One time we got caught in an ashfall on I-5 north of Vancouver, Washington. Driving conditions were just dreadful as each car would stir up a cloud of ash thicker than the thickest fog.
Right now we have our eyes on the mountain waiting to see what will happen. Most likely significant events will happen outside our lifetimes as volcanic timelines tend to stretch to hundreds of years if not thousands.
To see a webcam view of Mt. St. Helens, click here: Yahoo
This is a short hike of 4 miles roundtrip. It has a climb of 1000 feet in elevation which makes it of about the same difficulty as Spencer's Butte. All the newbies in Eugenie go to hike Spencers Butte - go instead to Pisgah and see the locals. This is a rounded mountain enclosed in Howard Buford County park that tops at 1516 feet in elevation. Forested on the North slope and covered by grass on the South slope. Admission is free and hours are from Dawn to Dusk. This doesn't mean I didn't sneak to the top at night a couple of times in High School. At the top is a metal monument to the late son of Author Ken Keasey. His son perished in a crash while in High School enroute to a wrestling tournament in Washington. Ken Keasey himself passed away in 2001. Watch for deer in the park - the largest group I ever saw was 17 deer.
The parking fee in the summer months is 2 dollars per vehicle. Unless you want to put yourself in danger of getting a nasty itch see my warning and danger tip on Poison Oak.
Take a day and soak in the glorious forested mountains just outside Eugene. Take Hwy-58 east to Westfir (stop and enjoy the covered bridge there) then Aufderheide National Scenic Byway goes over the mountains to Hwy-126 which takes you back into Eugene. Along the way stop and enjoy the river, many easy hiking trails with parking dot the road, Cougar Reservoir and the dam are enormous, if you want to spend the night there are many campgroungs.
After reaching Hwy-126 and turning left/west you'll come upon Mom's Cafe which has the BEST pie in the area ... do not miss this !
Grey Whales migrate between their Arctic summer homes and their winter breeding grounds in the Gulf of California. Twice a year they can be seen off the Oregon coast as they make their ways to and fro. Grey whales stay close to the shore line and feed as they pass by sometimes spending days in a location. Some whales seems to make their homes in choice locations for most of the year.
Prime whale watchig times are in December and then in the Spring when they begin their return trips to the Arctic. The Oregon Parks Division has established a cadre of volunteers who man 28 "whale watching" stations olong the coast highway (hwy 101). These volunteers can help you spot the whales describe their activities as they meander along the coast.
These whales were brought back form extinction by a consertive effort of governments and now number in the thousands. Come and enjoy these mightly sea animals.
This is the view of Three Sisters from the top of McKenzie pass. The tallest sister is the South Sister, she is 10,358ft high. From Eugene, take Hwy 126 to Hwy 242(usually closed in winter). Or, from Bend, take Hwy 20 to Hwy 242. This is a must see. The landscape in this area is surreal, and you will not regret your visit. Unless you get mugged by a bear or two, or get caught in the torrential rains. Happy Trails! P.S.( This road is not recommended for larger vehicles such as R.V.s or vehicles with trailers. Windy, narrow roads in parts.)
One of my favorite places in Oregon is Terwilliger Hot Springs (aka Cougar Hot Springs). It's a short drive from Eugene. What we found there is 5 hot springs pools that very in temprature from very hot to luke warm. The hot springs were less than a mile walk into the lush forrest. This is a clothing optional place so be warned if you plan on going here. We went to these springs several times and the day it rained was the best. This is probably one of the most relaxing places on earth. You can find out more and get directions here. http://www.nwhotsprings.net/terwilliger.htm
I love to just drive around Eugene and discover new roads and things to see... Although Eugene happens to be directly off of I5 freeway, there are so many beautiful roads to drive on (like McKenzie Highway) and the drive to Florence is beautiful...
Not only is the drive to the coast amazing, but there is much to see on the coast as well. North of Florence about 11 miles you will find the famous Sea Lion Caves, home to the largest sea cave in the world. The sea lions all gather there and are amusing to watch... There is also a great view from the caves to Heceta Head Lighthouse, rumoured to be the most photographed lighthouse in the world..
The fruit stands along River Road in the summer. Take the exit to Florence and Santa Clara off I-5. Follow until you come to Santa Clara Exit take this exit. When you come to the first stoplight, turn right. You are now on River Road. Follow this out to the country. You will find such farms as Thistle Down and Harwoods. Harwoods give you the best deals, but Thistle Down has the most variety.
Hendricks Park sits atop a small ridge between the University of Oregon and Interstate-5 at the southeastern edge of town. Located along Summit & Skyline Dr, this is Eugene's oldest city park. Its 78 acres includes a famous rhododendron garden, a native plants garden, short hiking trails, and an overgrown overlook of the city. The Francis M. Wilkins Shelter is also available for rent by groups.
This is a popular spot to run, as it is known to have been frequented by famed University of Oregon runners such as Steve Prefontaine.
Nearby, at the Intersection of Skyline Drive and Birch Lane, is Pre's Rock, the location where runner Steve Prefontaine died in 1972. Pre's Rock is NOT in Hendricks Park!
Pre's Rock is a shrine dedicated to Steve Prefontaine, one of America's greatest runners who died at just 24 years old. Even at this young age, he held eight American track records at every standard distance from 2,000 Meters to 10,000 Meters and 2 Miles to 6 Miles. He ran in the 5,000 meters at the 1972 Olympic Game, finishing fourth, and was training for the 1976 Olympics at the time of his death. Pre ran under coach Bill Bowerman, who later founded Nike, and alongside Olympic marathoner and two-time medalist Frank Shorter.
Pre's Rock is a largely informal monument created over the years at the exact site of his death. There is a stone with his image and a quote, along with a metal running figure in the rock. Around the base of the rock it is common to find race numbers, running shoes, flowers, and other trinkets from runners who were inspired by Pre and came here to pay their respects.
Pre's Rock is located just north of Hendricks Park on Skyline Blvd at the intersection with Birch Lane.
PLEASE DONT BRING CHILDREN
This "fair" is a bunch of drugged-up adults and is not safe for children. Although I would suggest everyone avoid this craptacular festival, adults can do as they like. Jus please keep children out and safe.
The McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass scenic byway is a gorgeous drive with numerous places to park and take pictures, or hike around the area. This 82 mile drive is not suitable for large vehicles as the paved road is narrow, makes numerous sharp corners, and has a few steep sides on either side of the road. From Eugene drive east up the McKenzie River along Highway 126 until you reach the turnoff for Hwy. 242. You will pass roaring whitewater rivers, deep green forests, waterfalls, and lava flows before reaching the Dee Wright observatory at the top of McKenzie pass. On a clear day you can see North to Mount Hood and South to Diamond Peak. Towering over you to the south is the famous glacier clad Three Sister Mountains. North, Middle, and South Sister are old volcanoes, with the South Sister being the most recently active. Also in the area before you will be the much smaller Little Brother, The Wife, and the Husband. Hiking trails abound in the surrounding wilderness - but before you leave you car parked be sure to contact the National Forest Service to purchase a parking permit.
Did I say that I got lost up in these mountains when I was 15? I was lost for several hours because I decided to go hiking in the Three Sisters area too early in the season and snow was still covering the trail in places. This is a great way to get lost.
A fly fisher's mecca in the Northwest US. This river that joins the Willamette River downstream even has it's own boat named after it.
I was working an early morning in the cafe here in Colorado and it must have been before 6:30 am on a weekend when two gentleman pulled up with a boat on the trailer.
We were a long way from the McKenzie River and I still knew that boat. I asked the two men "Where are you going with a McKenzie River boat around here?"
"How the h*ll did you know that it's a McKenzie River boat?" They asked me. I replied that I grew up a few miles from the river.
This river and the glacier formed valley that it sits in supplies so many recreational oppurtunities. Hike the 26 mile McKenzie River trail, take a white water rafting trip down the river, flyfish the river and see some stellar scenery on the trip down. After these activites you can always soak in Belknap hot springs for relaxation.
This 140 ft. waterfall on the McKenzie River is about an 85 minute drive east from Eugene. Up towards the ridges of the Cascade Mountains this is close to the headwaters, making for cold, ice fed waters. This is an area that was covered by lava flows, burying parts of the river and providing the geology needed to make these waterfalls as they pour over basalt cliffs. The surrounding greenery is even more intense than western Oregon usually is, because of the spray from the Waterfall. Sahalie is the Chinook (Native American tribe) word for "high."
I remember hiking down from Clear Lake with the family when I was about 12. My brother asked how far it was down to the falls. "It's 1.2 miles down to the falls," I said.
"How far is it back?" he asked.
We died laughing. It was a one way trail.