The North Umpqua River & Steamboat Inn, Oregon

Traveling from southern California up to Oregon on the 5 freeway is quite a long drive. The first leg of the journey to the Sacramento area is boring - going over the Grapevine is the best part - the rest is hot, dry and flat. Once north of Sacramento, the scenery starts changing for the better. You follow the Sacramento River upstream into the mountains and the beautiful area of Mount Shasta.  From here to the Oregon border is very nice scenery. When you get to Medford, you've got a choice to make; either drive the faster, more direct and less scenic way up the 5, or hang a right on Highway 62. Going the Highway 62 way is a longer drive, but the scenery going this way makes up for any more time spent driving. You wind your way through beautiful hills and farm land, heading further into the mountains, following the mighty Rogue River......although here, the Rogue isn't so mighty, it's just a small river. You can stop and view the Rogue River Gorge for a nice get-out-and-stretch break. The entire Rogue River narrows down and flows through a canyon no wider than 15 feet. It's truly a spectacular view!

Not too much further, Highway 62 turns east and goes to the United States deepest (1,932 feet) land-locked lake, Crater Lake. If you've never been there, it's worth a day to go and look. Frequently, in the summer you still can't drive all the way around the rim......there's still too much snow. Crater Lake has the fortunate pleasure of having one of the heaviest snow falls of the country - it averages 533 inches per year - that's 44.4 feet per year. I've been all around the western US and this is one of the most incredible sights you can see.

Since Highway 62 goes to Crater Lake, we continue north on Highway 230.  For most of the last hour, the highway is basically a straight path cut through the forest. Not too long after the Crater Lake turn-off, Highway 230 turns and heads east with the spectacular view of Mount Thielsen's sharp point. At the base of Mount Thielsen, Highway 230 T's at Highway 138. Diamond Lake recreational area is on your left as you head north and then west to follow what's known as the North Umpqua Scenic Highway.

At Toketee Falls, the highway starts paralleling the river. You can take some excellent pictures from the bridge near there.  At this point, the river is slower and more sedate. It starts getting faster and more rugged as you go. By Copeland Creek, the river is fast, furious and strong. Down a bit further, at Apple Creek, the river is a bit bigger. At Horseshoe Bend, the river is very wide and fast, offering a varied challenge for the fly fisher. This whole area (listed as 31 miles in the Oregon Sport Fishing Regulation Guide), from just above Rock Creek to Soda Springs Dam is fly only water. A true fly fisherman's dream.

For us, going up there just after the 4th of July, it was trout fishing at it's best. Native species of trout include the rainbow, redband, coastal cutthroat and, of course, the steelhead. We were too early in the season for steelhead, but the trout fishing was great! Lots of rainbows were caught in the 8" to 12" range, with a few to the 15" range. Several coastal cutthroats were caught in the 10" to 12" range and even a few redband trout were caught. The redbands were the smaller of the fish that I caught, being on an average of 9".

We stayed at one of the "stream-side" cabins of the Steamboat Inn. We spoiled ourselves there. The cabin was a 3 bedroom house with a rather large kitchen, nice sized living room and even a garage. There are rooms available, as well. If you want to 'rough it' like we did, plan early, as Steamboat Inn gets booked well in advance.

I hope I haven't bored you with this, please take a look at the pictures. There will be more after the trip in 2003!


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