[line]  National Park Photos

Pictures by Kirk Fratzke (September 2005) 


Destination: The Pacific
• Select thumbnails to view image galleries of each park •

Crater Lake National Park Photos
Crater Lake National Park
(50 Photos)
Pacific Coast Highway US 101 Photos
Pacific Coast Highway US 101
(30 Photos)
Olympic National Park Photos
Olympic National Park
(50 Photos)

  Trip Itinerary

  Thursday, September 1
  • Had an early morning flight out of La Crosse, WI scheduled
  • Of course the flight was canceled due to NWA strike, got rescheduled on Noon flight
  • Flew first-class on MSP to SEA segment (actually got food on an airplane!)
  • Arrived in Seattle at 5 p.m., a mere 6 hours later than planned
  • Picked up the rental car (upgraded to a convertible) and hit the road at the height of rush hour to begin my journey south
  • Drove down I-5 to Longview, WA instead all the way to Portland OR as planned, saved Mount St Helens for next day because of flight delay
  • Picked up supplies at local stories (cooler, soda pop, and snacks)
  Friday, September 2
  • Up early to make up for time lost the previous day
  • Drove to Mount St Helens National Volcanic Monument
  • Government spent some major bucks rebuilding the bridges on highway 504
  • Low clouds obscured good views of the crater
  • Good movie at the Johnston Ridge Visitors Center
  • Walked the nature trails and Johnston Ridge and Coldwater Ridge visitors centers
  • Continued drive down I-5 all afternoon, hit heavy traffic in Portland, OR
  • Paid $12 for two packs of cigarettes in Washington when I stopped to get gas
  • Nobody yields the left lane to faster traffic in this part of the country, so used the right lane to get by the slow pokes when possible
  • Took the Rogue Umpqua Scenic Byway through some National Forests, stopped at Toketee Falls, then entered Crater Lake National Park through the north entrance right at sunset
  • Checked into room Mazama Motor Inn, picked up some sandwich items at the camp store for dinner
  Saturday, September 3
  • First thing in the morning I went up to the Rim Village and then started the journey to the various viewpoints going counter-clockwise on the rim drive
  • Not may people around in the morning for a holiday weekend (that would change later when the day visitors arrived in droves)
  • Thought about hiking up Mount Scott just off the crater rim but decided against it
  • Continued around the edge stopping at most of the viewpoints, awesome views of the surrounding forests as well as the lake
  • Found one really nice, but not popular, viewpoint and hung out there for about a half hour just sitting on the edge of the road
  • Of course since I was at this viewpoint all alone a van load of oriental tourists had to stop and make a bunch of noise, just like at the Grand Tetons it was hard to enjoy the beauty of Mother Nature in peace and silence
  • Finished up the first lap around the crater and headed to the motel room for a sandwich lunch
  • In the afternoon took another lap around the crater on the rim drive this time going clockwise (a lot more people around in the afternoon)
  • Went up to the pumice desert area along the north entrance road
  • Took side road down to The Pinnacles and walked out to the old east entrance sign post
  • Finished up the second lap and stopped at Rim Village area and picked up some souvenirs at the gift shop
  • Due to reconstruction of the Rim Village little food service was available this summer other than Crater Lake Lodge dining room
  • Drove an hour to nearest town (Prospect OR) and found a local pizza place to have dinner
  • Stopped at the Rogue Gorge Trail where the Rogue River flows into a collapsed lava tube, lots of road construction on Highway 62 this year
  Sunday, September 4
  • Started another trip around the rim drive (going clockwise)
  • Morning fog in nearby mountains made for nice scenes and pictures!
  • Stopped at boat ride ticket booth, got lucky, one ticket left on first trip of the day
  • Made a quick hike down the Cleetwood Trail to the lake surface to catch the boat and enjoyed a 2 hour tour of the lake
  • Over half the 45 people onboard got off at Wizard Island so I decided to stay on the boat rather than wait for a unknown pickup time (could have been all day)
  • Water of Crater Lake very clear (and very blue) can see rocks on bottom 50 feet under water in some spots near shoreline
  • Hiked the 1,000 feet back up to the rim from the lake (just a tad bit breathless)
  • Finished third lap around the rim drive, made sure not to exceed the 35 MPH speed limit which for some reason seemed to upset some other drivers
  • Had another sandwich lunch at the motel room
  • Started fourth and final lap around the rim drive (this time counter-clockwise)
  • Found viewpoint from previous day and stopped again and hung out for another half hour, pretty windy in the afternoon and a little nippy at the high altitude
  • Hiked up The Watchman on the crater rim to fire tower lookout, great views of lake and surrounding area! (I should have hiked up Mount Scott the previous day)
  • Picked up a couple of brats from food stand at the Rim Village for dinner
  • Last night at the Mazama Motor Inn
  Monday, September 5 (Labor Day)
  • Up and on the road by 6:30 am, got confused at Medford, OR and went in a circle for a few miles
  • Got to Oregon Caves National Monument at 9:30 am
  • Highway 46 to the monument gets my vote for curviest road I've ever driven (wouldn't want to drive an RV on it)
  • Interesting 90 minute tour of the granite caves
  • Continued on US Highway 199 to Crescent City, CA and Redwoods National and State Parks
  • Locals here don't cut visitors any slack driving the curvy roads through the mountains and tend to ride your butt
  • Wondered around for a bit trying to figure things out since the park isn't continuous and has a major highway running right through the middle of it
  • Stopped at overlook for first view of Pacific Ocean and went onto beach near False Klamath Cove where got my foot wet walking on rocks :)
  • Continued south and took the gravel (and very bumpy) Coastal Drive road, High Bluff Overlook only spot on this route with any good views
  • Got on the Newton B Druy Scenic Parkway which is nice shady drive through some redwood groves
  • Finally stopped at the Kuchel Visitor Center outside Orick, CA and got advice from nice ranger on what to do in the park
  • Hiked the trail through the nearby Lady Bird Johnson Grove of giant redwoods (Redwood Creek Overlook not really worth stopping)
  • Continued back north stopping at the Klamath River Overlook near Requa, CA which had nice view of the ocean and Klamath River bottoms
  • Finally headed back to Crescent City, CA for the night
  Tuesday, September 6
  • In the morning went to the Stout Grove via the gravel (and very dusty) Hill Road and walked around for a few hours on the very good nature trails
  • Hard to take decent pictures due to the deep shade under the tall giant redwoods, beautiful with the huge ferns covering the forest floor
  • Rental car was so trashed from driving through road construction and gravel roads I had to get it washed
  • Started up US Highway 101 into Oregon
  • Stopped at a bunch of roadside state parks with viewpoints overlooking the rocky coastline, nice scenes although it was still a tad bit hazy at mid-day, got my foot wet again Harris Beach :)
  • Lots of small towns along the coast with interesting old harbors and where everyone seems to be a chainsaw artist with a roadside studio
  • Stopped at Port Orford Heads Wayside (a former Coast Guard lifeboat station) and out to Cape Blanco Light (furthest point west in lower 48 states) just as it was closing for the day
  • Just a brief stop Oregon Dunes Overlook to see what Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area was like, not really much to see since dunes are tree covered, but they continue along the roadside for miles and miles
  • Night in Florence, OR (only in Oregon do hotels not have ANY smoking rooms due to non-smoking workplace law -- Even the California isn't that messed up, yet)
  Wednesday, September 7
  • Up early for yet more driving!
  • Sea Lion Caves wasn't open yet so passed that by
  • Stopped at a couple of places where there were great views of the rocky coastline and checked out some tide pools
  • Went up small hill to Cape Perpetua Overlook to see Devil's Churn from above
  • Stopped at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area near Newport, OR to see the lighthouse along with more sea stacks and tide pools and sighted a whale
  • Took the scenic detour off US 101 to stay along the coast, the only thing scenic on this route is if you like looking at the driveways of rich peoples oceanfront homes and driving slow through even more small towns
  • Finally into Astoria, OR in late afternoon -- stopped at the Lewis & Clark Saltworks in Seaside, OR first (yawn, replica in a residential neighborhood)
  • Went to Fort Stevens State Park to check out ship hull remains, nothing else to see
  • There were strong winds in the afternoon along the ocean after the calm morning fog burned/blew off the last two days
  • Finally got to Fort Clatsop National Monument part of Lewis and Clark National Historical Park just 45 minutes before it closed for the day
  • Quick tour of the replica fort which isn't all that big (about the size of a double wide) and walked down to the landing
  • Checked into hotel early to relax after a few days of being run ragged
  Thursday, September 8
  • Checked out a few of the other Lewis and Clark sites in the Astoria, OR area -- most of them are just roadside markers
  • Stopped at Fort Columbia and Fort Canby and walked out to the Cape Disappointment and North Head lighthouses, early morning fog/haze didn't make for dazzling sights
  • Continued up US Highway 101 through Washington where the road is mostly inland - drive went pretty fast
  • Got to the Quinault area of Olympic National Park just after Noon - took a short hike to the big cedar tree, no views of the lake from the roadway
  • Road to the Queets area was closed
  • Visited a few of the beaches in the Kalaloch area of the park - Beach 4 and Ruby Beach seemed the most interesting
  • Headed into Forks, WA to find the motel and get a decent dinner at a local restaurant
  Friday, September 9
  • With extra time on my hands while in Olympic slowed things down a bit and slept in
  • In the morning went to the Hoh Rain Forest area and hiked the Spruce and Hall of Mosses nature trails at a leisurely pace
  • The temperate rain forest (145 inches of rain per year) is beautiful with every tree branch covered in moss - kind of area you could imagine the dinosaurs living in with an abundance everything green
  • A small herd of five elk walked through the parking lot while I was having lunch
  • In the afternoon went to the La Push area and spent a few hours on Second Beach watching the tide come in
  • Concluded the day with a stop at Rialto Beach which has small rocks for a shoreline instead of sand and the waves were much more aggressive at high tide
  Saturday, September 10
  • In the morning went to the Sol Duc area and hiked the trail to Sol Duc Falls where I snapped way to many pictures
  • Also walked the short Ancient Groves Nature Trail - Should have done the Lovers Lane trail but it would have been six miles round trip
  • Spent the afternoon in the Lake Crescent area where I hiked to Marymere Falls
  • Did a few laps on the Moments in Time Nature Trail and its many spurs which is very well marked with educational exhibits
  • Headed into Port Angeles to find the motel for the second half of my stay in on the Olympic Peninsula
  Sunday, September 11
  • Went to the Elwha area where there isn't much but the short Madison Falls trail
  • Headed up to Hurricane Ridge which climbs 5,000 feet into the Olympic Mountains during a short 17 mile drive
  • First real view of the mountains since the other areas of the park either focus on the ocean or temperate rain forest valleys
  • Cooler and more breezy at the top - good views of glacier covered Mount Olympus from the visitors center where I picked up some souvenir shirts
  • A bus load of Buddhist priest in orange dresses had overtaken the patio are for lunch and the nearby Meadow Loop trails seemed to be overrun with Russian or Polish visitors
  • Hiked up to Sunrise Point and took lots of pictures of the mountains and Strait of Juan De Fuca across which you can Victoria in British Columbia, Canada
  • Hiked the two mile long Hurricane Hill trail (which seemed much longer due to the uphill incline) - Beautiful views with the golden meadow grass in the foreground and the Olympic Mountains rising to the clouds across the entire horizon
  • Called it a day having finished everything planned for the trip/vacation
  Monday, September 12
  • With pretty much a full day left and nothing to do - I left Port Angles taking a slow drive to Seattle, WA along the remaining stretch of US Highway 101 - turns out this vacation was one day too long
  • Couldn't get on an earlier flight out of SEA since I was using frequent flyer miles for my ticket so I checked into a motel near the airport to take a nap and kill 10 hours (cheapo place only had 3 TV channels)
  • Turned in the rental car which I had driven 2,400 miles in the previous 12 days and caught the 1 am redeye flight to MSP
  Tuesday, September 13
  • Arrived in MSP and tried to kill three hours in the airport waiting for my connecting flight to LSE (not much interesting people watching in an airport at 6:30 am)
  • Arrived in La Crosse, WI at 10:30 am and back home to Winona where I was in bed by Noon for some much needed sleep after dropping off 23 rolls of film at the photo store for processing


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