Oregon Central Summer 2020
I booked this adventure some months before the COVID-19 pandemic, and hoped right up until departure that all lockdowns in Oregon might be lifted by the time I arrived. No such luck.
That meant that prime targets I had originally hoped to fly like Yaquina Head and Cape Blanco were completely closed off…
There is a persistent marine layer along the entire coast. The fog bank doesn’t retreat back out over the ocean until late morning, costing me half the working day each day. As you will see, it can make for interesting effects—and it can also ruin the light, contrast and saturation.
I drove North and South out of Coos Bay, and occasionally got good conditions. I’ll put some explanatory text on some of the galleries to put the videos in context. Hope you enjoy them!
2 Sisters & The McKenzie River Region:
Suttle Lake And Blue Lake, Big Lake, Lost Lake, The Tamolitch Blue Pool, Cougar Dam And Reservoir, Blue River Reservoir, Sisters Overlook And Wildfire Sites
3 The Cove Palisades:
Round Butte Dam
The Cove Palisades
4 Prineville Reservoir & Dam:
Arthur Bowman Dam
5 Cascade Lakes:
Sparks Lake and Bachelor Mountain
Salt Creek Falls
6 Foster And Green Peter Lakes:
Green Peter Lake
7 Newberry Crater Volcanic Park:
Paulina Creek Falls
West Paulina Lake and Paulina Peak
East Paulina Lake
2 McKenzie River Valley:
Koosah Falls, Sahalie Falls, Tamolitch Falls And The Blue Pool, Lost Lake & Clear Lake
Oregon and the McKenzie River Valley
My other Oregon galleries have covered different sections of Oregon with quite varied attractions. This trip I wanted to work from Portland but go East and South to new areas.
One prime target was the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival, where thousands of visitors stroll through forty acres of tulips in a dazzling spectrum of colors. The owners of the farm asked me to fly high enough that their clients would not complain. Since my drone is noisy and, up close, resembles a Klingon Battle Cruiser, I stayed near 100 feet above the fields.
Weather in Oregon can be rainy for days on end. That really affects one's videos when trying to photograph tulips in bright colors, but doesn't degrade the experience of big waterfalls. White River Falls is an hour and a half East of Portland, but well worth the drive. The Sherars Bridge is just around the corner from the Falls.
The magnificent McKenzie River runs southward from a highway juncture near Sisters, Oregon. That region has several dramatic attractions.
Mount Jefferson and nearby Detroit Lake and Dam are found to the North near the town of Detroit.
Then near the highway juncture, we find Lost Lake, which fills in Spring from snowmelt—but then empties completely with its water draining down three lava tubes by Summer!
The southern road out of the highway intersection is a wonderland. First we encounter stunning Clear Lake, whose mountain run-off water is stunningly clear.
Just a few miles South is the roaring Sahalie Falls. At Sahalie and its nearby neighbor Koosah Falls, I muted the video soundtracks because the roar is ever-present and quite intimidating.
Three miles farther is Koosah Falls. Both falls were thundering over their cliffs to due Spring snowmelt runoff.
Three miles beyond Koosah Falls and a third of a mile out into the forest, a tiny but brilliant gem called Tamolitch Falls with its famed Blue Pool are reserved for hardy hikers (and drone pilots).
Finally, there is the large, unusual Willamette Falls in the middle of an industrial area in Oregon City, an outer suburb of Portland. Here is a reference from Wikipedia: The Willamette Falls is a natural waterfall on the Willamette River between Oregon City and West Linn, Oregon, in the United States. It is the largest waterfall in the American Pacific Northwest by volume, and the seventeenth widest in the world. Horseshoe in shape, it is 1,500 feet (460 m) wide and 40 feet (12 m) high with a flow of 30,849 cu ft/s (874 m³/s), located 26 miles (42 km) upriver from the Willamette's mouth.
I do wish there had been sunshine…
This is a gallery of attractions reached from Klamath Falls in southern Oregon.
Oregon has been plagued with immense wildfires at Columbia Gorge, Chetco Bar and Crater Lake. The smoke, I'm told, just cleared from Klamath Falls and Lake of the Woods two days before I arrived. Winter is just around the corner, but there were breaks in the clouds, which allowed some rewarding drone flights.
If we begin with Crater Lake on the enclosed screen grab map, Diamond Lake, Lemolo Lake, Watson Falls and Toketee Falls with its lake are North of Crater Lake on Route 138.
South of Crater Lake, Route 62 going West takes us past Mount McLoughlin with its nearby lakes—Fourmile, Lake of the Woods, Fish, Howard Prairie and Willow. Continuing to Prospect, we pass then Rogue River Canyon, Natural Bridge, Mill Creek Falls, Prospect Falls and Barr Creek Falls. Keep following Rt. 62 to Peyton Bridge at Lost Creek Lake.
Arriving from Susanville in California, I drove to remote Fourmile Lake for its view of the steep-sided Mount McLoughlin. Mount McLoughlin has lakes on four sides, so I decided to visit them and use the dramatic peak as a part of the compositions.
The trip involves a lot of driving; coming back to Klamath Falls from the area around the peak, I flew the drone at two sites on Upper Klamath Lake. Klamath Falls is at the South end of the big lake.
When I visited Crater Lake, I was relieved to see that a several inch snowfall had put out most of the fires. My first day there, the only spot on the entire rim around the lake where I could take a picture of the lake was at the Lodge on the South end. The snow closed the rest of the rim drive. The next two days were warm and sunny, much of the snow melted and the entire eastern Rim drive was open. What a difference!
I’ll mention one more thing you will notice in my gallery: Mount McLoughlin elevates air as the wind blows, condensing moisture and creating clouds around the peak. I got one telephoto shot at 8:00 in the morning, and never saw the peak in the clear for the next two days! A week later, it was warm and sunny for photography—but much of the snow had melted…
I made two forays to Oregon’s coast. The first was West of Portland to Haystack Beach and Rock. That section of coastline is stunningly beautiful. In good weather such as occurred while I was there, the rewards are never forgotten.
The second foray came a month later, driving a hundred-mile stretch of coast from Eureka, California to Gold Beach in southern Oregon.
That second trip was in Summer 2017, a season when persistent fog can blanket the entire coast for days at a time. I was fortunate to get a few hours of beautiful sunshine during two of my days.
On that second visit. That enabled me to fly the captivating Arch Rock, Whaleshead Beach, Thomas Creek Bridge, Pistol River, the Battery Point Lighthouse and Gold Beach.
All but the Battery Point lighthouse in that list are within twenty miles of each other, so I could get a lot done in a brief time. The lighthouse is actually just over the state line in California, but I included it here as I drove past it each day entering Oregon. That’s our secret.
When the fog finally rolled in to stay, I left town in search of clear skies…
Most of these spots were quite accessible; with open areas where the drone could be launched clear of all those trees.
The exception was Arch Rock, where the only view is facing West, between trees on a headland, – and you still have to climb over the fence to get any decent view from there!
That required using the spot I dubbed the ‘Arch Rock International Airport,’ a tiny platform on the South side of the peninsula. The drone had to fly south, turn out to sea and come around on the West side to fly down to the arch. Then it had to return and be guided between the trees to a landing. A challenging flight!
For your convenience, I included as Gallery number 8 my videos from my earlier trip to Haystack Beach.
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