2012 Heartland North Trail
2012 Heartland North Trail
Reno, Nevada, or “Biggest Little City in the World” is a desert oasis just east of the California border. Being in Nevada, it has a similar array of gambling and entertainment establishments as its sister city to the south, Las Vegas. However, you won't find the same level of over-the-top excess in Reno that you would in Vegas.
The Riverwalk District is one of the best family-friendly areas of the city to visit. This is rife with beauty and provides a great way to get out and enjoy the city. The National Automobile Museum, The Discovery - Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum and other attractions are all located within walking distance.
Just 22 miles to the west lies Lake Tahoe, CA. The drive up there is an interesting demonstration of how quickly environments can change, and demonstrates how much mountains can affect the climate in a specific region. You go from the desert environment of Reno in the rain shadow of the mountains to the lush mountain lake environment of Lake Tahoe in a half hour. During the summer, there are all sorts of water activities to do here. In the winter, it's all about skiing.
Shamrock RV Park is an excellent choice for a stay in Reno. It is located just off RT-395 as you come into town from the northwest
To get to Newport, depart Reno heading north on RT-395. In Susanville, CA, switch to RT-139 which becomes RT-39. Continue on RT-139 to RT-140 to Klamath Falls. From Klamath Falls, take RT-97 north to the RT-58 west, which is known as the Willamette Highway. This will take you to I-5 just south of Eugene. Take I-5 North to RT-30/US-20 west to Corvallis. Continue on US-20 into downtown Newport.
Eagle Lake is a freshwater lake located about 15 miles north of Susanville, CA. With over 100 miles of coastline, this is the second-largest natural lake in California. It was originally created by glacial melt from the last ice age. This large lake provides an outstanding outdoor environment to experience nature.
This is a great place to see Bald and Golden Eagles fishing the lake and majestically soaring the skies above. Surrounding the lake is the Eagle Lake Recreation Area which operates camping facilities and a marina which will allow you to get the most out of your stop here. The fishing is great here too with trout being the primary catch. Trophy trout up to six lbs are routinely pulled from these waters every season.
To stay at the lake there are five campgrounds operated by the Eagle Lake Recreation Area. Of these, only the Aspen Campground is tent only; all the others offer RV spaces as well.
The Sierra Nevada and Cascade Mountains are literally hotbeds of volcanic activity. Both ranges are part of the notorious “Ring of Fire” which encircles the Pacific Ocean. This activity is all tied to the plate tectonics occurring in the area which also makes the region prone to earthquakes. There are many examples of the active volcanoes in the area including the area of Lassen Volcanic National Park, Mt Shasta, and Mount St. Helens to the north. Lava Beds National Monument encompasses the Medicine Lake Shield Volcano area which is the largest volcanic area in the Cascades.
The rugged landscape here is located in a high desert and provides great opportunities for hiking, camping, and exploring hundreds of caves, many of which contain native American art. The park also offers two guided tours. One for Fern Cave, which is off-limits without a guide ranger, and the Crystal Ice Cave tours. These tours are only offered certain times of the year so check with the website or with the rangers at the visitors center for dates and times.
The Indian Well Campground is a great place to stay in this area. There are 43 sites available on a first-come, first-served basis located just a half-mile from the park visitors center.
Crater Lake National Park is a great park located in south-central Oregon. This lake was formed in the collapsed cone of an old volcano which filled with water from rain and snowmelt, giving it its deep blue, super clear properties. At nearly 2,000 feet deep, this is the deepest lake in the United States. The lake is the main attraction and it can be viewed on all sides by traveling the excellent rim road. The road will take at least an hour to drive, but plan on a couple of hours so you can take some time out at the many overlooks to absorb the beauty. As you drive around, you'll notice subtle differences in the environments surrounding the lake. For example, on the north side, you may notice a heavy coating of yellow lichen on the rocks and trees. The south side gets less sun so you tend to see much less of this beautiful coating there.
There are many other things to do in the park including several hiking trails throughout the surrounding areas, many of which lead to some amazing waterfalls.
The Mazama campground in the park can accommodate RVs and tent campers alike. For a free option, or if Mazama is full, try the Annie Creek Sno-Park which is located about five miles south of the main park road on RT-62. Coming from the park, it will be on the left-hand side about a mile or so past the park boundary sign. This is a large paved parking lot that is free to camp in during the warmer months. There are no hookups here so your RV will need to be self-sufficient to boondock.
Every Saturday from April until Mid-November from 10am to 5pm rain or shine, you can visit one of the best local markets in the country. The Eugene Saturday Market features over 200 local vendors selling everything from handcrafted clothing to fine art pieces. The market has been in operation since 1970 and is held in a beautiful park setting. This setting provides plenty of space to grab some great food from one of the many food vendors and have an impromptu picnic. There is also live music playing for the duration of the event, making this a great family day of shopping and entertainment.
The beauty of this market lies in the vendors of the area. Oregon is known for its rustic artsy culture and exceptional plant growing climate. This is reflected in the products you'll find for sale here which include amazing jewelry, paintings and fresh-cut flowers like you won't see anywhere else in the US.
The Deerwood RV Park is a great place to stay the night here. It is located near the RT-58/I-5 junction just a few minutes south of downtown Eugene.
Centrally located along Highway 101 on the Oregon coast lies Newport, a quintessential seaside town with a lot to offer visitors. First off, Newport has port in its name and it is in fact a port town. In the heart of the town is the Newport Marina which is home to many crabbing and sport fishing outfitters. You can rent a boat here if you'd like to fish or crab within the confines of the bay or charter any number of fishing trips that head out to sea.
For a great short trip try the Newport Marina Store and Charter service's crabbing or crabbing/fishing combo trips. These are excellent trips during Dungeness crab season which is only closed for ocean crabbing from Mid-Oct through November. On this trip, you go out about a mile into the Pacific and pull large crab traps that have already been soaking for several hours. The crew gets you involved in the process of pulling traps and sorting the crabs which is great fun for the kids. Any crabs caught are divided among you and your shipmates. On a good day, you'll easily take home your limit after an hour and a half to two-hour trip. The charter service also has a guy who will clean and cook your crabs for you so you can bring them back to camp and enjoy them later. When he's cleaning the crabs, make sure you ask to try the heart. This small, star-shaped noodle-like part of the crab is quite a treat.
If you want to crab on your own you can also rent a small boat with gear for a few hours and crab the inner bay area. It's great fun for the whole family and you're rewarded with a delicious food which is a uniquely west coast delicacy.
Other great things to do here include the Oregon Coast Aquarium which has many great displays focusing on the local wildlife of the region. If you prefer to see your wildlife in a natural setting, there are several beaches along US-101 which have great rocky tide pool sections. Head out during low tide and hunt around a bit. You're sure to find sea stars, crabs and other critters out there. There are also a lot of great shops along US-101 and the side streets in town if you prefer to spend your day shopping.
After a day off of crabbing, shopping, beaching or touring the aquarium, make sure you stop by the Rogue Brewery. The main facility with a restaurant is located by the marina and they offer tours, fantastic beers (many of which you won't find in stores), great food, and lots of merch to gear up on.
The best place to stay in the area is the Waldport/Newport KOA. This is a great, albeit small, campground right off US-101 about 20 minutes south of Newport. Navigating the park in a big rig could be a challenge and may take a little more patience than most parks. Alternatively, there is The Port of Newport RV Park & Marina - South Beach. This park is in the marina right next to the Rogue Brewery. While convenient to town, the marina, and aquarium, it is literally a paved parking lot with hookups. If that's all you need then you can't beat the location. However, without much more than a thin strip of concrete between each rig, it isn't particularly family or pet friendly. If you prefer a more classical camping experience then the KOA is the way to go.