Monday, July 28, 2014

Into the Volcanic Zone ~ June 24, 2014

It's definitely about the journey and not the destination. There are stunning views and history at every bend in the road. After breakfast we pick up Hwy 97 south. It's partly cloudy and a lot cooler than it could have been out here in the Sage Brush Sea. To our right are some of the snow capped mountains of the Cascades: Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Washington, Sisters, and Broken Top.

We crossed over a deep gorge you can't see until you're in the middle of the bridge. Simply had to turn back and take a closer look. We find three stunning bridges arching over a 300 foot gorge and the Crooked River. There is a beautiful park out here in the middle of nowhere with historical signage, miles of trails and a large picnic area. 

The railroad bridge was completed in 1911. The incentive for the crossing was to reach vast stands of timber to the north. It's 320 feet above the river and is the second highest railroad bridge in the US. 

High Bridge 
Photo Credit Michael Goff

The Crooked River High Bridge was completed in 1926. It was the old Hwy 97 bridge and now it's a footbridge within the park, providing a one of a kind observation platform. 

The Rex T. Barber Veteran's Memorial Bridge was completed in 2000 to replace the High Bridge which could no longer handle modern traffic. It's named for a local war hero who, in 1943, achieved World War II fame as the fighter pilot who shot down the airplane carrying Japanese Admiral Yamamoto, mastermind of the Pearl Harbor attack. 

As is our habit, we chat with other travelers. One told us if we haven't been to Smith Rock, it was a must stop. Since it was just down the road we turned left at Terrabonne and headed east to the park. It was as described and more. Volcanic activity expresses itself in a myriad of ways and this spot will take your breath away. There are trails for all skill levels. It's also a popular spot for climbers. Truly worth a stop and a walkabout. Bring a picnic. 

Smith Rock Park

One of the Smith Rock Park Trails

After our picnic at Smith Rock we head south again. Next stop is Lava Lands just south of Bend. It seems a desolate place at first, but when you slow down and take a second look there is a lot to discover. There is signage throughout the park to explain the history and dynamics of the area. 

 Local Denizen

Mountain Spray

 Lava Snow Balls

Lava Ness Monster

A full day to say the least. We found a great spot to stay in Klammath Falls, called it a day and curled up and read after dinner.  Off to California tomorrow.