Ollallie Campground, Oregon

McKenzie RiverJuly 24-25, 2010

On a blasting hot Saturday in July, Kate and I headed up the McKenzie River to try to beat the heat. It was just as hot in the mountains and all the campgrounds we looked at were full. (I guess we weren't the only ones with this idea.)

When we checked out Ollallie Campground, we noticed a spot that had been reserved Friday through Sunday but was still empty. In Oregon state and national parks, if you don't occupy a reserved site the first night of the reservation, you lose it. It was a perfect site -- large and private and right on the river. Risking the wrath of latecomers, we nabbed it.

After setting up camp, we took our chairs down to the icy river where the temperature was a good 10 degrees cooler. Between frigid splashings, we settled in with books and lemonaide and waited out the hottest part of the day.

The site reservers did show up around dinner time. But by then the ranger had officially reallocated the site to us. Fortunately, they were a fairly mellow group and managed to squeeze into their friends' large site next door.

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Ollallie Campground, site 10July 31 - August 2, 2009

Our second weekend at Ollallie Campground was with friends, Laura Davis (from Santa Cruz), Nona Olivia (from Denver) and locals Kathy and Robin. I had reserved site #10 on the upper loop (overlooking the rivers) weeks in advance. Kathy and Robin were able to reserve the last available site (#2) later on.

It's a very small campground -- no host, pit toilets, and one hand-powered water pump down by the river. But the sites are spacious and the roar of the rivers is mesmerizing.

Laura, Nona and I arrived Friday afternoon and set up camp, then drove to Sahalie Falls and hiked along the river to Koosah Falls. They are both such spectaular falls, and we were so grateful for the cool air coming off the river. It was a hot muggy weekend with temperatures well into the 90s. Kate, Kathy and Robin arrived in time for dinner (chicken/apple sausages and salad). But it was just too hot for a campfire.

dinner the first nightSaturday morning, all but Kate met with Jack from Oregon Whitewater Adventures at Paradise Campground for a guided 2.5-hour raft trip. It's pretty much steady whitewater of 2- and 3-level rapids. The water is always icy, the air refreshingly cool, and we all had a great time. Kate (who plain doesn't like rafting) stayed back at the campsite with Bailey and spent the time studying for her Social Work Licensing exam.

Saturday afternoon, Robin, Laura and I hiked four miles to Tamolitch Pool. The falls were not running, and the water wasn't nearly as turquoise as when Kate and I hiked it in 2007, but it was still fun. Robin and I headed back after reaching the pool, but Laura, who's in training for a 60-mile walk-a-thon, continued on to hike a full 14.5 miles before dinner.

Terwilliger Hot SpringsKathy and Robin hosted dinner at their site: spaghetti, corn on the cob, and salad. We all went back to our site for a campfire (even though it was in the 80's) and an applesauce/spice cake to celebrate Laura and Kathy's birthdays, which are both on July 29th. (The spice cake is an old camping recipe of Laura's. You fill the bottom of a dutch oven with applesauce, then add in boxed cake batter and simmer for hours).

The next morning, we roasted our own breakfast sandwiches over the campfire. In old-fashioned pie irons, you lay out biscuits from a can. Then you fill with scrambled eggs, cooked sausage patties, and cheese. Close and toast to a sizzling brown. Yum! A sweet alternative filling is cream cheese and fruit.

After breakfast, Kathy and Robin left. Kate stayed behind with Bailey to study while Laura, Nona and I went to Terwilliger Hot Springs for a dip. It was already near 90, so even the coolest of the cascading pools was a bit warm for the weather. But after a hot, muggy weekend and no shower, it was a welcome splash.

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Tamolitch FallsMay 26-27, 2008

The first time we stayed at Ollallie Campground was after camping for two nights with Kathy and Robin at Delta Campground. After packing up, Kate and I took a hike to Tamolitch Falls, along the roaring blue MacKenzie.

Most of the year, the falls are dry (or ice), next to a spring-fed pool, and hikers have not seen the falls in 30 years. But we lucked into a rare siting of the falls at their peak. It's a good hike (four miles), but well worth it, with gorgeous river views all along the way.


Ollallie River, next to our site


We stopped by Ollallie Campground on our way home just to check it out and found a primo site (#16) reserved but abandoned. We immediately claimed the site for ourselves and enjoyed one extra night camping right at the junction of the McKenzie and Ollallie Rivers.

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