During our stay in Prospect, Oregon, originally intended for a visit to Crater Lake National Park, we found ourselves with an extra day to explore the area. Hindered by a lack of service and some oversight in planning, we relied on a paper map acquired from a local general store and gleaned insights from locals while indulging in ice cream at Cones & Co. Between the towns of Medford and Diamond Lake, there’s a plethora of water features to discover. We opted for a few near Farewell Bend Campground, where we lodged, and the experience exceeded our expectations.
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While not technically waterfalls, Rogue River Gorge and Natural Bridge are captivating water features shaped by the eruption of Mount Mazma, the precursor to the formation of Crater Lake. Both sites offer short loop trails, some of which are paved, and are connected by the 3.5-mile one-way Upper Rogue River Trail. Although we didn’t embark on this particular trail, it promises a delightful hiking experience. Make sure to savor each viewpoint during your visits to the Rogue River Gorge and Natural Bridge, and take a moment to absorb the fascinating information provided on the signage about the creation and history of these geological marvels.
National Creek Falls embodies the quintessential Oregon waterfall experience: vibrant green moss, majestic rapids, and a serene forest backdrop. While pictures may not fully capture the beauty of this 40-foot-tall waterfall, that didn’t deter us from trying. The trail to National Creek Falls spans about one mile roundtrip, leading you into a small gorge.
A visit to Prospect State Scenic Viewpoint offers a 1¾-mile loop trail showcasing three distinct waterfalls: Mill Creek, Barr Creek, and Pearsony Falls. We commenced our hike by marveling at Mill Creek and Barr Creek Falls from a distance across the gorge before progressing down-trail to Pearsony Falls. If I were to revisit this area, I’d follow the same loop, especially on a hot summer’s day. Mill Creek and Barr Creek Falls, though impressive, can only be viewed from a distance, whereas Pearsony Falls boasts a large set of rapids culminating in a refreshing natural pool—an ideal spot to relax and enjoy a swim. The weather was a warm 80 degrees and sunny on the day of our visit, making the opportunity to cool off most welcome. Remember to bring water, snacks, sunscreen, water shoes, and towels to enhance your experience.
While central Oregon boasts many more waterfalls to explore, we were content to spend a day discovering these gems. Whether you’re planning a trip to Crater Lake or just passing through the area, allocate some time to visit these enchanting waterfalls.