Klamath Falls, or “K Falls” as locals call it, is the population hub of south-central Oregon with nearly 21,000 people within the city limits and an additional 40,000 in the surrounding area. This community is used to hard times after witnessing the decline of its previous economic engines, starting with the railroads and moving on to the timber industry.
Farming and ranching is still an important part of the local economy, as is tourism and the influx of new settlers, particular retirees. The cost of living here is comparatively low, and the climate is dry, with more than 290 days of sunshine; winters are cold but not damp, and it’s less cold and rainy than Bend.
Downtown Klamath Falls has a clutch of handsome historic buildings, many revitalized with interesting shops and dining spots, and three intriguing museums that shed light on different aspects of local history and culture. During the summer, a restored 1906 trolley provides transportation ($1) from the Discover Klamath Visitor Center (125 W. Main St., 541/882-1501) to major downtown sites, including the Klamath County Museum, Favell Museum, and the historic Baldwin Hotel.
But the real draw of Klamath Falls is out in the surrounding countryside. The native trout of Klamath Lake and the nearby Wood and Williamson Rivers are legendary, averaging 21 inches. There’s world-class white-water rafting on the upper Klamath River, with several hair-raising rapids topping Class IV.
But most of all it’s the Klamath Basin National Wildlife refuges, a complex of six lake and wetland units stretching into California, that draw visitors—and lots of birds—to the area. The refuges host the largest concentration of bald eagles (up to 800 in winter), the most in the United States outside Alaska, as well as more than 400 other bird species.
Getting to Klamath Falls
Amtrak (S. Spring St. and Oak Ave., 541/884-2822) can connect you with northern and southern destinations via the Coast Starlight train. Greyhound (1200 Klamath Ave., 541/882-4616) can take you to California or the Willamette Valley. The Klamath Falls airport is served by United Express (800/241-6522).
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel