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Visiting Cape Blanco State Park

Four miles north of Port Orford, west of U.S. 101, is Cape Blanco State Park, whose remoteness gives you the feeling of being at the edge of the continent—as indeed you are here, at the westernmost point in Oregon. From the vantage of Cape Blanco, dark mountains rise behind you and the eaves of the forest overhang the tidewater. Below, driftwood and 100-foot-long bull kelp on slivers of black-sand beach fan out from both sides of this earthy red bluff. Somehow, the Spaniards who sailed past it in 1603 viewed the cape as having a blanco (white) color. It has been theorized that perhaps they were referring to fossilized shells on the front of the cliff.

The lighthouse near Cape Blanco
The lighthouse near Cape Blanco. Photo © Judy Jewell.

With its exposed location, Cape Blanco really takes it on the chin from Pacific storms. The vegetation along the five-mile state park road down to the beach attests to the severity of winter storms in the area. Gales of 100-mph winds (record winds have been clocked at 184 mph) and horizontal sheets of rain have given some of the usually massive Sitka spruces the appearance of bonsai trees. An understory of salmonberry and bracken fern help evoke the look of a southeast Alaskan forest.

Atop the weathered headland is Oregon’s oldest, most westerly, and highest lighthouse in continuous use. Built in 1870, the beacon stands 256 feet above sea level and can be seen some 23 nautical miles out at sea. Cape Blanco Lighthouse (541/332-6774, 10am-3:30pm Wed.-Mon. Apr.-Oct., $2 adults) also holds the distinction of having had Oregon’s first female lighthouse keeper, Mabel E. Bretherton, who assumed her duties in 1903. Tours of the facility include the chance to climb the 64 spiraling steps to the top. This is the only operational lighthouse in the state that allows visitors into the lantern room to view the working Fresnel lens.

Near Cape Blanco on a side road along the Sixes River is the Hughes House (541/332-0248, 10am-3:30pm Wed.-Mon. Apr.-Oct., free), a restored Victorian home built in 1898 for rancher and county commissioner Patrick Hughes. Owned and operated today by the state of Oregon, the house offers an intriguing glimpse of rural life on the coast over a century ago.

Camping in Cape Blanco State Park

Scenic Rating: 8
There are 52 sites with partial hookups for tents or RVs up to 65 feet long. Other options include an equestrian camp with eight sites, a hiker/bicyclist camping area, four cabins, and four primitive group sites for tents or RVs for up to 25 people. Garbage bins, picnic tables, drinking water, and fire grills are provided. Firewood and restrooms with flush toilets and showers are available. Some facilities are wheelchair accessible. Leashed pets are permitted; one cabin is pet friendly.

Reservations are not accepted for single sites, but are accepted for cabins, the group site, and the horse camp at 800/452-5687 or www.oregonstateparks.org ($8 reservation fee). Single sites are $22 per night, $7 per night per additional vehicle. The horse camp is $17 per night; the hiker/biker sites are $5 per person per night. The group site is $71 per night for the first 25 people, then $3 per each additional person per night. The cabins are $41-51 per night. Some credit cards are accepted. Open year-round.


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Oregon Camping: Little River, North Umpqua River, and Diamond Lake

North Umpqua is a premier fishing river full of trout and salmon, as well as a source of excitement for white-water rafters who shoot the rapids. Learn more about where to camp when visiting this stunning region, including information on pricing and amenities.

View of the shore of a placid lake with the verdant shore and reeds reflecting in the water.
Lake of the Woods in the Little River watershed. Photo © Tracy Fox/123rf.

Little River Campgrounds

Camping is popular on the North Umpqua. Several alternatives are nearby, up the Little River south of Glide. Cavitt Creek Falls (541/440-4930, May-Sept., $8) has water and vault toilets at a small waterfall with a swimming hole at its bottom. To get to the campground, head east of Roseburg on Highway 138 to Glide, take Little Creek Road (County Rd. 17) for seven miles, then continue three miles down Cavitt Creek Road.

Other small campgrounds, with water and vault toilets and suitable for tents and small RVs, are up Little River Road and managed by the U.S. Forest Service (North Umpqua Ranger District, 541/496-3532, mid-May-late Oct., $10-15): Wolf Creek (5 miles from Glide); Coolwater (15 miles from Glide), with good hiking trails nearby, including Grotto Falls, Wolf Creek Nature Trail, and Wolf Creek Falls Trail; White Creek (17 miles from Glide, then 1 mile down Red Butte Rd.), at the confluence of White Creek and Little River, with a good beach and shallow water; and Lake in the Woods (27 miles from Glide, last 7 miles gravel), along the shore of a four-acre artificial lake at 3,200 feet elevation. Motorized craft are not permitted in this eight-foot-deep pond. Two good hikes nearby are to Hemlock Falls and Yakso Falls.

North Umpqua River Campgrounds

Set along the bank of the North Umpqua River 15 miles east of Roseburg a little ways north of Highway 138 is Whistler’s Bend (541/673-4863, $17), with reservable sites. Picnic tables and grills are provided at this county park, as are piped water, flush toilets, and showers.

About 30 miles east of Highway 138 is Susan Creek (541/440-4930, reservations www.recreation.gov, mid-Apr.-late Oct., $14), with water, showers, and flush toilets. This campground has 31 sites for tents and RVs up to 20 feet. In a grove of old-growth Douglas fir and sugar pine next to the North Umpqua River, the campground is enhanced by the presence of a fine beach and swimming hole as well as nearby trails.

Within easy access of great fly fishing, rafting, and hiking, Bogus Creek (541/496-3532, May-Oct., $15), with flush toilets and water, offers the real thing. As the campground is a major launching point for white-water trips and within a few miles of Fall Creek Falls and Job’s Garden Geological Area, it’s good to reserve a site or get here early.

About 38 miles east of Roseburg on Highway 138 near Steamboat and good fly-fishing is Canton Creek (541/496-3532, May-mid-Oct., $10), with water and flush toilets. Take Steamboat Creek Road off Highway 138 and proceed 400 yards to the campground. Horseshoe Bend (541/496-3532, mid-May-late Sept., $15), with water and flush toilets, is 10 miles east of Steamboat. There are 34 sites for tents and RVs up to 35 feet, with picnic tables and grills. In the middle of a big bend of the North Umpqua covered with old-growth Douglas firs and sugar pines, this campground is a popular base camp for rafting and fishing enthusiasts.

Diamond Lake Campgrounds

Campgrounds surround beautiful Diamond Lake (elevation 5,200 feet); boating, fishing, swimming, bicycling, and hiking are among the popular recreational options. The trout fishing is particularly good in the early summer, and there are also excellent hikes into the Mount Thielsen Wilderness, Crater Lake National Park, and Mount Bailey areas. Reservations (877/444-6777) aren’t required, but these campgrounds fill up fast, so reservations are advised.

With over 200 sites, Diamond Lake campground (mid-May 15-Oct., $16), with water and flush toilets, is on the east shore of the lake with easy access to the north entrance of Crater Lake National Park. Numerous hiking trails lead from the campground, including the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. Boat docks, launching facilities, and rentals are nearby at Diamond Lake Resort (Diamond Lake, 541/793-3333).

Other large Diamond Lake campgrounds are Broken Arrow (mid-May-Labor Day, $15), with water, showers, and flush toilets, on the lake’s south shore; and Thielsen View (mid-May-mid-Oct., $15), with water and vault toilets, on the west side of the lake, with picturesque views of Mount Thielsen. Contact the Diamond Lake Ranger District (541/498-2531).


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The Best Taco Trucks from San Diego to Tijuana

Long before the mainstream popularity of food trucks, San Diego’s taco-loving culture was built on a foundation of rubber tires and mobile kitchens. To this day, if you ask locals where to find the city’s best tacos, they’ll usually point you to a taco truck. Or, they might tell you San Diego’s best are found south of the border, in Tijuana.

Mariscos Nine Seas taco truck
Some of San Diego’s best fish tacos come off a truck. Photo © Lindsay Bullis.

Can’t Miss Mariscos

Throughout San Diego, dozens of food trucks start with the word mariscos, which simply means “seafood” in Spanish. They may vary in quality, but nearly all feature delicate ceviches, seafood tostadas, and a rich assortment of fish tacos. The city’s most central is the beloved Mariscos Nine Seas, which parks in the same spot daily: a TargetExpress parking lot in the homey neighborhood of South Park (3030 Grape Street). Its legendary Baja-style fish tacos cost just a buck-eighty each, and you’ll get a free fish stew to eat while you wait. And you will wait, because the city lines up for these tacos of fried or grilled whitefish, smoked marlin, and grilled shrimp, cheese, and mixed veggies (called gobernador).

If you’re looking for a similar—most say better—experience in Tijuana, look for the celebrated Sonoran-style seafood of the Mariscos Ruben truck at its regular location in Zona Centro (Quintana Roo 740). It’s a longtime favorite among celebrity chefs for its acclaimed salsas, crab claw aguachile, and shrimp enchiladas.

Vegan and Then Some

Food truck Taqueria Vegiee may be bad at spelling, but it’s great at channeling the Tijuana taco experience to a meat-free audience, preparing its own vegan alternatives to taco staples such as carne asada, carnitas, and al pastor. A new Taqueria Vegiee truck conveniently parks right beside Mariscos Nine Seas in South Park (3030 Grape Street), while its original continues to do business in Tijuana’s exceptional gastropark, Telefónica.

What’s a gastropark, you ask? It’s like a mobile food court built around a shared dining garden with a craft brewery attached. Telefónica is in a fixed Zona Centro location (Boulevard Agua Caliente 8860) where a dozen highly regarded food trucks have dropped anchor.

black food truck
Corazón de Torta is a favorite among beer lovers. Photo © Ian Anderson.

The New Beef

One of the highlights of Telefónica is the food truck La Carmelita, which captures the warmth of homestyle Mexican cooking with its delicious tacos, tortas (sandwiches), and nourishing stews.

Last year, La Carmelita’s chef Jose Rodrigo Figueroa Sanchez brought a similar warmth to San Diego, partnering with the food truck Corazón de Torta, which has quickly captured the adoration of San Diego taco lovers and beer fans. With this food truck, Tijuana’s delectable tradition of braised meat guisados are brought north, in particular a guajillo chili-stewed short rib that has made Corazón de Torta the most in-demand food truck at San Diego’s top craft breweries. Track it on Instagram @corazondetortasd to find each day’s location or hold out for the business to park a new, second truck at its home base (2490 Commercial Street).


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Camping in Yellowstone National Park

Camping in Yellowstone National Park requires a bit of savvy. In summer, you cannot waltz in around sunset to claim a campsite. Campsites are filled up long before that.

In Yellowstone, you can make reservations (Xanterra, 307/344-7311 or 866/439-7375) for five campgrounds one year in advance. These are Fishing Bridge, Bridge Bay, Madison, Canyon, and Grant Village. Fishing Bridge, which allows only hard-sided rigs (no tent trailers), is the only one with hookups for RVs. Seven campgrounds in Yellowstone are first-come, first-served: Mammoth, Slough Creek, Pebble Creek, Indian Creek, Tower, Norris, and Lewis Lake.

slough creek winding through the Yellowstone landscape
The Slough Creek Campground is prized for its remoteness, solitude, wildlife-watching, and fishing. Photo © AlexeyKamenskiy/iStock.

North Yellowstone

This region of Yellowstone has smaller campgrounds than elsewhere in the park. With the exception of Mammoth Campground, each offers a quiet place to get away from crowds. Reservations are not accepted; all campgrounds are first-come, first-served. Amenities include potable water, picnic tables, bear boxes for food storage, fire rings with grills, and flush or vault toilets, but no showers. Accessible sites are available at Mammoth and Indian Creek Campgrounds. Check online to see what time the campgrounds filled on the previous day and then aim to grab a campsite before then. In midsummer, campgrounds can fill before 8am.

Mammoth Hot Springs

At 6,200 feet, Mammoth Campground (year-round, $20) clusters its 85 campsites on an open sagebrush hillside with scattered trees. This is the only campground in the northern region of the park with flush toilets and where generators are permitted (8am-8pm). Most campsites have pull-through parking to accommodate RVs (some can fit combinations up to 75 feet), and 51 sites have tent pads. Campers can walk to trailheads, Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces, restaurants, and shops. Though it can be windy or hot in midsummer, most campsites get broad scenery of Gardner River Canyon. The access road to Mammoth Hot Springs circles the campground, which makes daytime traffic noise a factor. In winter, RVs are limited to 30 feet.

Mammoth to Norris

Eight miles south of Mammoth Hot Springs, Indian Creek Campground (mid-June-mid-Sept., $15) has 70 sites, vault toilets, and a quiet ambience with views of Electric Peak in the Gallatin Range. This is a place to hear the haunting hoot of owls or bugling elk in fall. Most campsites are tucked into the forest with parking pads (35 feet or less). At 7,300 feet, the campground offers quick access to Swan Lake Flat for wildlife-watching, the trailhead to Bighorn Pass, and Bunsen Peak.

Tower-Roosevelt

Set on a steep hillside above Tower Fall, Tower Fall Campground (late May-late Sept., $15) has 31 campsites with parking pads (30 feet or shorter), plus a hairpin turn to negotiate. Some sites sit in the open while others tuck under large pines. At 6,600 feet in elevation, hiking up or down the hill to vault toilets or to the hand-cranked water pump may have you huffing and puffing. A trail drops from the campground to the Tower Fall observation area, but be prepared to climb back uphill. Horseback trail rides and a restaurant are two miles north at Roosevelt Lodge. The amphitheater has evening naturalist talks.

Northeast Entrance

Slough Creek Campground (mid-June-early Sept., $15) is prized for its remoteness, solitude, wildlife-watching, and fishing. Lined up along Slough Creek at 6,250 feet in elevation, the 23 campsites vary from open sagebrush meadows to shady conifers. Prime campsites include creek frontage within sound of the water. All sites have less than 30-foot parking pads; amenities include hand pumps for water and vault toilets. This primitive campground is accessed via the dirt Slough Creek Road, five miles east of Tower Junction on the Northeast Entrance Road.

North of Lamar Valley at 6,900 feet elevation, Pebble Creek Campground (mid-June-late Sept., $15) loops through forest-flanked wildflower meadows. Some of the 27 campsites are open with views of the surrounding Absaroka Mountains, and a few are walk-in tent-only sites. Facilities include a hand pump for water and vault toilets. Nearby, you can access the trailhead to Trout Lake, fishing in Soda Butte Creek, wildlife-watching in Lamar Valley, or Silver Gate and Cooke City. The campground is located along the Northeast Entrance Road, 13 miles past Slough Creek Road.

a steaming caldera on a hillside in Yellowstone
Sites within the Norris Campground are spread around a steep hillside. Photo © becciames/iStock.

Old Faithful and West Yellowstone

Two outstanding campgrounds sit on Yellowstone’s west side. Madison is closest to Old Faithful, while Norris is closer to Mammoth and Canyon Village. Both campgrounds have flush toilets, potable water, picnic tables, fire rings with grills, food storage boxes, tent pads (at some sites), firewood and ice sales, evening ranger programs (mid-June-mid-Sept.), accessible sites, and shared biker-hiker campsites ($8/person). For hookups or showers, go to West Yellowstone.

Madison

At Madison Junction, below National Park Mountain, Madison Campground (307/344-7311 or 866/439-7375 advance reservations; 307/344-7901 same-day reservations, www.yellowstonenationalparklodges.com, May-mid-Oct., $25) has 278 sites on a flat plain spread around 10 loops. The Madison River flows past the campground, attracting anglers for iconic fly-fishing; wildlife-watchers often spot bison and elk. In fall, elk bugling fills the air. At the campground’s west end, G and H loops have 65 sunny sites for tents only. Some campsites can fit RVs up to 40 feet. Make reservations nine months in advance.

Norris

Across from Norris Geyser Basin at 7,555 feet on the Upper Grand Loop’s southwest corner, Norris Campground (first-come, first-served, mid-May-late Sept., $20) has 100 sites spread around a steep hillside. Loop A campsites are flatter and have views of surrounding meadows that often contain elk, bears, moose, or sandhill cranes. Bison often walk through campsites and bed down here. Prime walk-in tent sites line Solfatara Creek. The adjacent Museum of the National Park Ranger contains exhibits about early rangers, and nearby hiking trails lead to Norris Geyser Basin, Ice Lake, and north along Solfatara Creek. Arrive by 8am in summer to claim a campsite. RVs are limited to 30 feet.

suv and camper parked in a campsite in Yellowstone National Park
The Canyon Campground sits one mile from the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Photo © brettneilson, licensed CC BY 2.0.

Canyon and Lake Country

Of the five campgrounds on the park’s east side, four accept reservations (Xanterra, 307/344-7311 or 866/439-7375). For summer, book reservations a year in advance at Canyon, Fishing Bridge, Bridge Bay, and Grant Village. Camping fees cover six people or one family; taxes and utility fees are added on. Call to pick up campsites from last minute cancellations.

Campgrounds have flush toilets, cold running water, potable water, coin-op ice machines, and evening amphitheater programs. With the exception of Fishing Bridge, they also have picnic tables, fire rings, firewood for sale, dishwashing stations, bear boxes, tent pads, and shared campsites for hikers and bikers ($8/person). For RVs, only a few campsites fit rigs or combos of 40 feet or more. The only campground with full hookups for RVs is Fishing Bridge. When searching for a campsite, check daily fill times online for status updates.

Canyon Village

Canyon Campground (late May-late Sept., $30) is one of the most-requested campgrounds due to its central location. On a hillside forest of conifers, the 270 campsites squeeze into tight quarters in a dozen loops at 7,944 feet. Some of the sites are sloped. Campsites are designated for RVs, tents, or RV and tent combos. Some pull-through and back-in sites can fit RVs up to 40 feet. The campground check-in building has pay showers (two per night included), coin-op laundry, and an RV dump station, although when temperatures freeze, it shuts down. Within 0.25 mile are stores, restaurants, Grand Canyon Visitor Education Center, a post office, and a gas station with repair service; Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is one mile away.

Fishing Bridge

On the north end of Yellowstone Lake, Fishing Bridge RV Park (East Entrance Rd., early May-late Sept., $48) is the closest campground to the East Entrance Station. At 7,751 feet, it is the only campground in the park with electrical, water, and sewer hookups for RVs. All of the 340 sites are double-wide back-ins. If you don’t have huge slide-outs, you can fit a towed RV and a vehicle side by side. Hard-sided units are required; tents and pop-up tent trailers are not allowed. Surrounded by a forest, the campground stacks RVs close together like a parking lot, with a few pine trees separating some of the sites. Amenities include pay showers (two per night included), coin-op laundry, store, and an RV dump station. Nearby are a gas station with vehicle repair service, a general store that carries camping supplies and groceries, and the Fishing Bridge Museum and Visitor Center.

Lake Village

At 7,784 feet, Bridge Bay Campground (north of Bridge Bay Marina, mid-May-mid-Sept., $25) flanks a hillside across the road from Yellowstone Lake. With 432 campsites in 12 loops swooping through meadows and forests, the campground is the largest in the park. The five huge front loops sit on a large, sunny, sloped meadow with some views of the water, distant Absaroka Mountains, and neighboring campers. The meadows are green in June, brown in August. The back loops circle through conifers with more shady sites. Bridge Bay Marina has a boat launch, rentals, scenic cruises, store, RV dump station, and ranger station. Separate trails for bikers and hikers lead one mile to Natural Bridge, a rock arch above Bridge Creek.

Grant Village

Set in a lodgepole forest at 7,733 feet, Grant Village Campground (mid-June-mid-Sept., $30) sits on West Thumb Bay of Yellowstone Lake. A paved road with paved parking pads loops through this giant campground of 430 campsites with a midsummer population larger than some Wyoming towns. A lack of understory gives views of neighboring campers. Trails lead to a large pebble and sand beach for sunbathing or swimming in chilly water even in August. Local streams with spawning trout attract bears in spring, keeping the campground closed until mid-June. If bears are still hanging around spawning areas, nearby campground loops stay closed until bears dissipate. Within a half mile, Grant Village has stores, restaurants, pay showers, coin-op laundry, a visitors center, a post office, an RV dump station, and a marina that has cement boat launch ramps, docks, slips, and trailer parking. West Thumb Geyser Basin sits about three miles north of Grant Village. Of the lake campgrounds, this is the closest one to Old Faithful, 17 miles west over the Continental Divide.

Lewis Lake

Boaters, anglers, and paddlers favor the primitive first-come, first-served sites at Lewis Lake Campground (South Entrance Rd., 307/344-7381, mid-June-early Nov., $15). Located on Lewis Lake at 7,830 feet, this quiet campground is close to the South Entrance, hence it’s the first campground for those heading north from Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole. The campground flanks a forested hillside with 85 campsites and is one of the last in the park to fill; in peak season, all sites are claimed by 11am. RVs are limited to 25 feet, and generators are not allowed. The campground has vault toilets. When temperatures reach freezing, drinking water may be shut off. Paddlers can tour up the Lewis Channel to Shoshone Lake. Near the lake’s north end, trails lead to Shoshone Lake and Heart Lake. Lewis Falls sits one mile south.


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McKenzie River Highway Camping and Accommodations

From I-5 near Eugene, reach the scenic McKenzie River Highway by taking Highway 126 east. Just past Springfield, where the four lanes become two, the McKenzie River Recreation Area begins. For the next 60 miles, you’ll see beautiful views of the blue-green McKenzie River with heavily forested mountains, waterfalls, jet-black lava beds, and snowcapped peaks as a backdrop. If this sounds like the perfect place to set up camp or book a room for a few nights, here are the best options for camping and accommodations.

view of the bright blue McKenzie River in Oregon
The McKenzie River in Springfield, OR. Photo © joshuaraineyphotography/iStock.

Camping

The following campgrounds ($12-22) are under the jurisdiction of the Willamette National Forest’s McKenzie Ranger District (541/822-3381, reservations 877/444-6777, www.recreation.gov). Many are along the beautiful McKenzie River National Recreation Trail, a prime location halfway between Eugene and Bend that helps make the area a popular vacation spot during the summer; reservations should be made at least five days in advance. All of these campgrounds have drinking water, vault toilets, and picnic tables.

Several choice campgrounds are south of the McKenzie Highway, off the Aufderheide Highway; these places are convenient to Cougar Reservoir and Terwilliger Hot Springs. Delta campground is closest to the McKenzie Highway, less than a mile south and about a mile north of the Aufderheide, alongside the river amid old-growth trees. Busy Slide Creek campground is on the east bank of Cougar Reservoir and has a boat ramp and swimming area. A few miles south of the reservoir along the South Fork of the McKenzie, French Pete and Frissell Crossing campgrounds are both quiet.

A half mile west of McKenzie Bridge on Highway 126 is the 20-site riverside McKenzie Bridge Campground, with a boat launch. About three miles east of McKenzie Bridge on Highway 126 is Paradise Campground. Although there are 64 tent and RV (up to 40 feet) campsites, only half of the sites are in premium riverside locations. The summer trout fishing here can be good. Olallie Campground is on the banks of the McKenzie River, 11 miles east of McKenzie Bridge on Highway 126; boating, fishing, and hiking are some of the nearby attractions.

On the south shore of lovely Clear Lake, 19 miles northeast of McKenzie Bridge on Highway 126, is Coldwater Cove Campground (mid-May-mid-Oct.). A county-run cabin resort, Clear Lake Resort (541/967-3917) is adjacent to the campground and has a store, a summer-only café, and rustic cabins (bring cooking utensils and bedding, $70-135), as well as boat docks, launches, and rowboat rentals. No powerboats are permitted on the lake. The road to the resort closes at the end of September; guests can hike in to rustic cabins during the winter.

A handful of small campgrounds dot Highway 242, the old McKenzie Pass road, but none have piped water.

Map of The Willamette Valley, Oregon
The Willamette Valley

Accommodations

A great place for families (including pets) and those who want to get away from the noise of the McKenzie Highway is the Wayfarer Resort (46725 Goodpasture Rd., Vida, 541/896-3613, $115-355), featuring over a dozen cabins on the McKenzie and glacier-fed Marten Creek, east of Vida. Accommodating up to eight, the cabins have porches with barbecues overlooking the water, full kitchens, and lots of wood paneling. Two larger units that sleep eight are equipped with all major amenities. Children can enjoy fishing privileges in the resort’s private trout pond, while the folks play on the resort’s tennis court. In the summer, advance reservations are a must for this popular retreat.

The riverside Eagle Rock Lodge (49198 McKenzie Hwy., Vida, 541/822-3630, $130-240) is one of the more elegant places to stay along the McKenzie. The large 1947 house has five very comfortable rooms, and there are three suites in the carriage house, with beautiful gardens and places to lounge outside. Guests can order dinner in advance from the lodge’s personal chef ($45), a nice option, since there aren’t many restaurants in the area.

Heaven’s Gate Cottages (50055 McKenzie Hwy., Vida, 541/896-3855) offers housekeeping cabins ($160) and a six-bedroom lodge ($500) right on the McKenzie River; the cabins are sandwiched between the highway and the river. One cabin is right over a good fishing hole, and night lights illuminate the rapids. These cabins may be old, small, and semi-rustic, but their riverside location helps overcome these issues. Note that although the address for Heaven’s Gate is in Vida, the cabins are much closer to Blue River

The former Blue River ranger station, which sits above the highway away from the river, has been repurposed as the lodge for the McKenzie River Mountain Resort (51668 Blue River Dr., Blue River, 541/822-6272, $100–170). The vacation cabins used to house the rangers. This is a popular base for mountain bikers riding the McKenzie River Trail; the resort offers shuttle service. It’s common for groups to rent the entire lodge.

Although Harbick’s Country Inn (54791 Hwy. 126, Blue River, 541/822-3805, $75-115) may not be as charming as some of the other lodgings along the McKenzie—it’s basically a motel—it’s a friendly place and within walking distance of one of the finest public golf courses in the country, Tokatee, and has a good restaurant next door. It’s also popular—reserve in advance.

The Cedarwood Lodge (56535 McKenzie Hwy./Hwy. 126, McKenzie Bridge, 541/822-3351, Apr.-Oct., $130-185) is tucked away in a grove of old cedars just outside the town of McKenzie Bridge. The lodge has nine vacation housekeeping cottages with fully equipped kitchens, baths (with showers), fireplaces (wood provided), and portable barbecues. This is a sweet place to spend a couple of nights, particularly in those units with decks on the river.

The spacious and attractive cabins at Inn at the Bridge (56393 McKenzie Hwy., McKenzie Bridge, 541/822-6006, year-round, $199) look like they are part of the landscape but were built in 2006 and are fully modern, with two bedrooms, full kitchens, river-rock fireplaces, two baths, and a back porch overlooking the river.

Belknap Lodge and Hot Springs (59296 Belknap Springs Rd., McKenzie Bridge, 541/822-3512, $25-425) offers lodge rooms ($110-185 d), cabins (some pet-friendly, $135-425), camping ($30-40), and access to two hot-spring swimming pools. The lodge rooms have bathtubs plumbed with hot-spring water. The main attraction on the property is Belknap Springs: The piping-hot water runs into a swimming pool on the south bank of the McKenzie. Nonguests can use the pool for an hour ($8) or all day ($15).The pool closes at 9pm. If you forget your towel, you can rent one.


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