Friday, January 25, 2013

Epic Road Trip: Day 4 - Mill and Barr Creek Falls and Oregon Caves National Monument

Mill Creek Falls (above) and Barr Creek Falls (below) are really beautiful, and as long as you know where you're going and don't turn in at the wrong place like we did, they're relatively easy to find. They're definitely waterfalls worth visiting, but I would have liked to be able to get closer to them. We had to take these pics from across the mountains. We experimented with the front camera on my ipad to see if we could get a picture of both us and the waterfall. It worked, but the front camera's not nearly as good in quality as the back camera, so we wouldn't end up using it much for the rest of the trip.


As we continued on our way to Oregon Caves National Monument, we passed some lovely lookouts. Oregon is just so pretty!

And after ignoring googlemaps and going the "shortcut" my GPS suggested, we arrived at Oregon Caves National Monument. Lesson - don't always trust the GPS! It took us over the mountains instead of around, and it certainly didn't save us any time.

This was a hot day in the 90's, so taking a cool break in the caves was nice. We had to wear long pants and bring our jackets since it's around 40 degrees in there. It was pretty nifty though. It's much better lit and considerably easier to walk through than the other caves we've visited (click here for the lava tube in Bend, OR and here for the lava tube in Hawaii). None of our pictures are fantastic, but there were some cool sites. One is a big area so open it's actually been used as a dance floor for weddings. Someone risked their life and invested a lot of money into dynamiting further into the cave in order to discover it. In that same room they found a jaguar skeleton, which is surprising to scientists since they hadn't realized jaguars ever lived this far north.

The cave's exit and entrance are not the same place. You actually have to take a hike to get back down to where you parked. There are 2 ways to go. 1 is direct and the other climbs a bit higher so you can get a nice view of the valley before you head down. This is Oscar and I, so of course we had to take the scenic route!

We felt a bit rushed that day since we'd planned on seeing Mill and Barr Creek Falls, Oregon Caves National Monument, Redwood National Park and the coast of Northern California, and make it to our campsite in Eureka, CA. It turned out California was rainy and cloudy by the time we got there, so we didn't end up doing much there besides checking in at our KOA and taking advantage of their internet. Fortunately we had visited the area before so not being able to see it at its full beauty that day wasn't a huge loss.

The most disappointing thing about California was how expensive camping was, particularly after the $8 and $14 campsites in Oregon. We booked a KOA tent site that night because nearly all of the camping in California is $35 a night. The KOA was less than camping in the woods! Nearly every park in California is a state park, and that's where the big fees come from. If you're at Yosemite or the other National Parks, it's $20 a night. But the state parks charge a lot simply for a tent site. There are some first come/first serve sites that are cheaper ($20), but they all require backpacking at least a couple miles, which I wasn't up for simply to save a few bucks.

Click here for our next epic adventure

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