Sarah W.


Joined August 2020

Living and working in a van, it’s awesome to find free camping or splurge on a campsite worth while. I appreciate the knowledge share and contribute where I can.

Filled with waterfalls

The McKenzie River has back to back water falls, including the Tamolitch Pool, also know. As the a Blue Pool

We went Memorial Day weekend and reserved a campsite way in advance. Not that it mattered as the rain scared most away.

Still, the scatter rain fall did not stop us from a lovely time.

Clouds in the canyon make the colors really pop, but less appealing to go for a swim.

The waters are rich and blue, making the string of waterfalls you can literally drive and walk to that much better.

Dispersed, but not abundant

After I was recommended to come here by a few friends, I made the trek.

It is a beautiful site, primitive, and not a lot of space.

We decided to camp along the fire road before you get here. This turned out to be an amazing site, lots of space and a natural fire ring.

We fished, grilled up our fresh fish and swam until we were all cooked.

I brought my kayak and ended up trolling of that to make my catch.

Warning: there were a ton of bees. Mostly hidden in the ground, so just be super care… I think my sister and I each got 5 stings.

I regret not coming more

Probably one of my favorite places in Oregon.

Maybe it is the lack of visits that keeps me longing to go back here, but the water was more blue than the Carribean, just 30 degree colder.

Still, the hike is easy and flat, you can swim all along the way at a small pool you find along the creek.

There is an old abandoned village here too that you can explore. Crazy how nature takes over.. pretty apocalyptic looking!

This does get really crowded.. like you may not find parking if you’re hiking kind of crowded. Camping would need to be reserved for sure, so plan ahead and get there early.

Crowded on weekends

The first time I visited Detroit lake was amazing. Glassy, quiet and a huge lake to explore with my kayak.

That was an awesome experience and I’d recommend coming if you can swing a weekday.

Weekends are pretty wild. Very crowded on the shore and on the lake. Boaters, party folks, and some disrespectful outdoor habits were seen.

The lake is beautiful, and even on that crowded day, I kayaked into a channel and found the silence I was looking for, just took a bit of effort.

Worth the trek, but be prepared for a less calm experience.

Unique Landscape, Hikes/Climbs

For climbers: As a climber, this is a must see. You could spend a week here and not do it all.

The routes are heavily trafficked, so well kept a and good bolts. I’d recommend a guide book, you can get one just outside the park at the gear shop/coffee shop.

All levels here for many to enjoy. Lots of folks come from the city, so plenty of gym climbers. Nothing wrong with that, but be ready for some cringe worthy safety knowledge.

Hikers: Misery ridge, don’t be misled by the name, will take you all the way to the top. Sure it is steep, but not very long and doable by most anyone.

You can also swim in the crooked river on hot days, or cold days if you want a ice bath.

Camping: The campsite is right by the trails to get into the park. There are bathrooms and designated cooking areas. The sites are dispersed so you should not have trouble finding at least a place for your tent, but could be crowded.

Easy access, warm lake

I’m a big fan of swimming, so this shallow lake was awesome because of how warm it gets in the summer months

It is also super close to Bend, about 45 minutes… man Bend has it all.

No FWD needed as this is right off the road. There are other sites on the other side of the lake, that would still not require FWD.. it’s a nice Dirt road.

Fire rings and designated sites here.

Some people come just for the day, so I can imagine it being more crowded on a weekend.

First to Review
Can’t say enough, come here

This backpacking trip is a very accessible hike.

The road to get to the trailhead is paved and the hike to Ice lake is 9 miles in (18 miles total)

You can add some miles (and a lot of elevation) if you add a day hike to the Matterhorn. Second tallest to Sacajawea. When I say it takes 3 hours to get up and 30 minutes to get down.. I’m not joking. Unless you’re an ultra runner who can handle high intensity at elevation, this will take some time. Well worth it for the views and ice lake will be waiting for you at the bottom.

Photos are from August 2018 and July 2019… notice the snow in July. Couldn’t do the added day hike that time.

Camping on the coast

I stayed here a few years ago, but it is just a tough place to get a reservation. Unless it is an off weekend/not ideal weather.

Either way, the coast is always beautiful. Rain and clouds or sunshine.

The hike out to cape lookout can also start right at the camp grounds. This adds some miles to the 3 miles it is from the cape lookout trailhead, but the forest along the coast feels so tropical!

Fires were allowed and we enjoyed a cool night by the ocean.

Easy Access to South Sister

I stayed here alone the night before I hiked up South Sister.

There are a decent amount of people who come this way, even on the SS trail… except when you start at 3AM there is no one.

Highly recommend staying here, either for the lake or it’s proximity to so many other great hikes

You are also really close to an open meadow with a creek running through it right off the road 126, but seriously it’s a stunning vantage point.

It’s like a van life haven

If you’re reading this, it’s likely you climb. You could say the same about everyone here.

This is a perfect place for climbers: free, close proximity to the crags, and it’s got your basic amenities: toilet and water.

There is also a decent amount of shade here with decent Verizon service.

Close to tensleep and climbing

This was a great place for us to get our dogs out before a day of climbing.

Being at elevation, the temperature is so much cooler than down in ten sleep.

This was about 35-40 minutes from Ten Sleep, which has service of you need that. Otherwise, this range is a no service area.

The lake offers hiking and a cool swim or fishing and boating.

There is an old ski resort for sale right on the lake, so if anyone wants to go in on that let me know. I’d live here in a heartbeat.

Bathrooms are clean and there are a lot of picnic tables.

Dirt road to get here, but FWD is not needed.

There is also dispersed camping near here if you look for it.

Like Smith Rock, but Empty

This place is a future climbing spot for sure. So much undeveloped rock, looks so much like Smith Rock near Bend, OR.

The road was dirt… get used to dirt roads in this area of the state… but I would not say FWD is needed though it is a plus.

The site is walking distance from a reservoir that was very refreshing. I wish I had brought my kayak.

A free site too!

First to Review
Rough Place, Worth the views

You’ll need a FWD vehicle to get down here.

Pretty off the grid, we only saw one other group when we stayed.

Great to escape for a while and to be alone in nature.

We found lots of great places to hang by the water during the day, hike to a hot spring (more like bush whacking through desert) in the evening, and even a cliff to climb and jump into water from.

Crazy place that tore up our skin and our dogs paws, so be prepared for the dry desert and all it’s thorns.

Otherwise was a wonderful place to quote literally escape. Wish I had photos, but was too distracted I guess

Just come here and see

The whole Alvord desert is a dry lake bed…. well most often it is dry, but if it isn’t do not even try to drive out there. The clay silt will stop an cat in its tracks. Tow company won’t even get you until it is dry…

That being said, it is completely open for dispersed camping. You could get to the middle of it and feel like you are stranded.

Total. Solitude.

We came in the summer and the bed was dry. So naturally we drove 70 mph to a spot we seems “fine”.. it’s all just dry dirt, so pick a place that is far from anyone else.

Walking around you could almost loose sight of your car, with the heat illusion ok the horizon. Super trippy, but honestly at night we nearly walked right past our car.

No light pollution, so stars are on full display, but it does get windy at night.

Be safe here, lots of people driving wicked fast.

Can’t rave enough

When I lived in Portland, I went to the Alvord desert three times… it is a 7 hour drove, but I wanted to see it in different seasons. Each time did not disappoint.

I stayed here twice of the three times because I was with a group and the $50 bunker was not bad split up. And this got us access to the hot springs… no brained.

It was also super nice to have a heater.. while this is a dessert, the winters are so cold.

The Steens range was just dusted with snow, so we were very lucky. It was presidents weekend for reference.

Bathrooms, but not showers.

The bunkers are old military converted into a living space. Small, but really fun to stay in.

Road is easy to get to. Dirt for a few miles off the highway, but super stunning.

Worth the long haul. Every time.

A resort of camping

This park was huge! So many sites for tents and RVs. Though, it was packed! We ended up staying here the whole day, but were not able to get a place.

For last minute planners, this might be tough.

If you can, it has everything you would need or want in a campground/park. Swimming, volleyball, GOLFING?!, nice bathrooms with showers. Though COVID has these closed.

If you enjoy a bit of glamping thos would be a good choice.

A place to work!

I was happy to have service in the woods. We were able to work and talk nice walks while we had free time.

A few bars with Verizon and we can log on. Big plus.

The rapids them selves were small, but I’m sure you could swim if it was a bit warmer.

Dispersed camping here so we did not have to pay.

There are toilets here but now showers.

The fire road is also a nice hike to stretch the legs and paws.

Such an interesting Dam

This was a man made like, yet they did a decent job about educating about the dam, what the water ways looked like prior to the dam and where power goes from the dams generation.

The sites themselves were nice and had a cool path around the falls.

Coming from the PNW, I thought the water was a bit dirty to swim in… very brown, but after spending some time in the UP I guess people do swim in most waters.

Convenient and relaxing

This was along our route which was convenient, but we were glad we stopped.

Inexpensive for being right next to a lake and in a small town. Though, at the time we went the lake had a water warning for bacteria and we did not swim.

Still, a pretty site.

Hole in the park

We stayed here the beginning of August as a place to rest on our way west. It was surprising how nice it was.

Aside from the amenities (showers, toilet, hiking trails) this place was exceeding my expectations.

The canyon was beautiful and you could swim there to cool down. I’d recommend water shoes at the water was super shallow.

That said, this is near many farms, so the water was a bit bubbly… I’m still alive.