Duwee Falls

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon, USA

About Duwee Falls


Hiking Distance: roadside (view only)
Suggested Time:

Date first visited: 2016-07-15
Date last visited: 2016-07-15

Waterfall Latitude: 42.86446
Waterfall Longitude: -122.14732

Duwee Falls was said to be Crater Lake National Park’s largest officially-named waterfall at a reported height of some 100ft or more.

The other two officially-named falls in the park that we’re aware of were Vidae Falls and Plaikni Falls (the latter we didn’t have the time to do).

Duwee_Falls_010_07152016 - Context of Duwee Falls and the rim of Mt Mazama in the distance
Context of Duwee Falls and the rim of Mt Mazama in the distance

Although it had a reported height of some 100ft or more, if true, its height was actually less than the reported height of Vidae Falls.

Nevertheless, this statistic alone (of being the largest in the park) would probably compel waterfall lovers like us to make a visit to the falls compulsory.

However, as you can see from the photo above, getting a good view of Duwee Falls was not easy.

We either had to be content with a very distant view (from about a mile away) from a roadside pullout (which is what’s shown above), or risk life and limb to try to improve the very partial views of the falls from the Godfrey Glen Trail.

The difficulty rating shown at the top of this page reflects only the roadside view.

Duwee_Falls_004_07152016 - Zoomed in on just Duwee Falls as it was surrounded by ash cliffs
Zoomed in on just Duwee Falls as it was surrounded by ash cliffs

In fact, we’re tempted to not even mention the Godfrey Glen option though we’ll do so anyways just to more-or-less complete what we have to say about this falls.

Pyroclastic Flows and the creation of Duwee Falls

What made Duwee Falls rather interesting and unusual was that it appeared to have been a result of pyroclastic flows from the eruption of Mt Mazama some 7,700 years ago.

It could be the same event responsible for the creation of Crater Lake.

Pyroclastic flows are like a fast-moving landslide consisting of a mix of hot lava material, pumice, ash, and hot gases all barreling down the mountainsides and even into drainages.

Such flows typically occur at speeds of 100 miles per hour, and they often bury and burn everything in its path very quickly.

Pompeii_019_20130518 - A pyroclastic flow from the Mt Vesuvius eruption buried the Roman city of Pompeii, and it's now the best preserved exhibition of human civilization as a result of that moment when time was frozen and fossilized
A pyroclastic flow from the Mt Vesuvius eruption buried the Roman city of Pompeii, and it’s now the best preserved exhibition of human civilization as a result of that moment when time was frozen and fossilized

Perhaps the most famous pyroclastic flow event in the history of humankind was that of the eruption of Mt Vesuvius near Naples, Italy, which buryied the ancient city of Pompeii.

This resulted in one of the best preserved examples of ancient human civilization known to date.

When we viewed Duwee Falls, it struck us just how tall the ash cliffs resulting from the pyroclastic flows were.

That gave us a very clear indication of how being in the path of one of these things really meant you’d have literally no chance of survival and would probably be fossilized in the process.

Duwee_Falls_019_07152016 - The full context of Context of Duwee Falls and the giant layer of cliffs formed by pyroclastic flows cut forth by Munson Creek
The full context of Context of Duwee Falls and the giant layer of cliffs formed by pyroclastic flows cut forth by Munson Creek

In any case, seepage from Crater Lake emerging as Munson Creek further downslope would ultimately erode the valley that this pyroclastic flow once occupied.

Over time, the creek carved out the steep canyon responsible for Duwee Falls while also unveiling pinnacle formations in the wrinkly cliffs flanking this gorge.

This was all apparent from the roadside view that we’re advocating as the method to view the falls from afar (see directions below).

An interpretive sign at the roadside pullout further explained the events that unfolded to yield the eccentric geologic features on display here.

The Godfrey Glen Trail

Godfrey_Glen_006_07152016 - Dad and Mom hiking on the Godfrey Glen Trail
Dad and Mom hiking on the Godfrey Glen Trail

To get a closer examination of the pinnacles and the pyroclastic ash cliffs, we actually hiked part of the Godfrey Glen Trail.

That said, in hindsight, we wouldn’t recommend doing the trail if the sole purpose was to try to get a closer look at Duwee Falls.

It was far too dangerous and tempting to try to improve the view on the steep and unstable cliffs.

Nevertheless, if you are curious about catching a glimpse of Duwee Falls from the Godfrey Glen Trail, we managed to get a very partial view of it.

Godfrey_Glen_008_07152016 - Looking across the gorge from the brink of Duwee Falls towards the pyroclastic ash cliffs from the Godfrey Glen Trail
Looking across the gorge from the brink of Duwee Falls towards the pyroclastic ash cliffs from the Godfrey Glen Trail

This occurred after hiking about 0.3 miles (according to our GPS logs) in a clockwise direction along the heart-shaped looping trail.

It was very easy to miss viewing the falls from the trail because it sat deep within the ash gorge.

The only way to try to get satisfying views of it would be to make a real daring scramble further down into the gorge.

However, given the steepness and instability of the cliffs, we’d strongly recommend against doing that.

Godfrey_Glen_016_07152016 - Looking down at a very partial and unsatisfying view of the Duwee Falls from the Godfrey Glen Trail
Looking down at a very partial and unsatisfying view of the Duwee Falls from the Godfrey Glen Trail

We certainly didn’t bother trying, and the photo you see above was our best effort from a relatively safe spot just off the Godfrey Glen Trail.

That said, the Godfrey Glen Trail did allow us to examine the pyroclastic cliffs more closely as well as the ash blowing off the clifftops suggesting the erosion processes continue to this day.

Authorities

Duwee Falls resides in Crater Lake National Park near Medford or Klamath Falls in Klamath County, Oregon. It is administered by the National Park Service. For information or inquiries about the park as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Duwee_Falls_001_07152016 - Zoomed in look at Duwee Falls from the roadside lookout, where it was very apparent to us that the trees growing from below were blocking more of the falls possibly suggesting that it might drop well above the reported 100ft height that's floated about in the literature
Duwee_Falls_015_07152016 - This portrait view of the context of Duwee Falls tries to show you just how high the ash cliffs resulting from the original pyroclastic flow of the Mt Mazama eruption were. That made it quite obvious to us that we would definitely not want to be in the way of one of those things
Godfrey_Glen_004_07152016 - Dad and Mom going clockwise on the Godfrey Glen Trail
Godfrey_Glen_021_07152016 - This was our closeup look at the ash cliffs resulting from the ancient pyroclastic flow from Mt Mazama as seen from the Godfrey Glen Trail
Godfrey_Glen_012_07152016 - When we got to this point along the Godfrey Glen Trail, we realized that it was moving away from Duwee Falls as Munson Creek's sounds were getting more faint. However, we saw a parked car way in the distance, and that made us realize that there must have been a roadside stop for a more direct (albeit distant) view of the falls
Godfrey_Glen_013_07152016 - As we were starting to backtrack towards the Godfrey Glen Trailhead, we got these interesting views of the pinnacles hidden in the pyroclastic flow and revealed by erosion
Godfrey_Glen_015_07152016 - It was only on the return hike along the Godfrey Glen Trail that we started to see bits and pieces of Duwee Falls with lots of things getting in the way
Godfrey_Glen_022_07152016 - Looking down over the rim of the pyroclastic cliffs near the brink of Duwee Falls towards the ash cliffs themselves
Godfrey_Glen_028_07152016 - Looking way down towards a wide intermediate cascade on Munson Creek upstream of Duwee Falls as seen between trees along the Godfrey Glen Trail
Godfrey_Glen_029_07152016 - Context of that intermediate cascade on Munson Creek backed by some sloping ash cliffs upstream of Duwee Falls while returning from the Godfrey Glen Trail
Godfrey_Glen_030_07152016 - Mom and Dad returning along the Godfrey Glen Trail as they made their way back
Godfrey_Glen_031_07152016 - Dad and Mom returning to the trailhead for the Godfrey Glen Trail

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Duwee Falls sat near the southern entrance to Crater Lake National Park.

We managed to get there by basing ourselves in the sprawling city of Medford, then driving along the Crater Lake Hwy (Hwy 62) for about 54 miles to a signed junction.

Turning right at this junction to continue on Hwy 62, we then drove an additional 15.5 miles towards a junction shortly before reaching the turnoff for Mazama Village and the Crater Lake National Park Entrance.

Keeping right at this junction (not going into the park), we then drove an additional mile in the direction of Klamath Falls before spotting the roadside pullout on our left.

This pullout was what we’re proclaiming to be the best spot to view Duwee Falls.

To reach the trailhead for Godfrey Glen, head back up Hwy 62 towards the junction near the Mazama Village and park entrance, then keep right to go into Crater Lake National Park.

Godfrey_Glen_001_07152016 - The parking lot and trailhead for the Godfrey Glen Trail
The parking lot and trailhead for the Godfrey Glen Trail

Staying on the main highway, drive an additional 1.5 miles and turn right into the short spur road leading to the Godfrey Glen Trailhead (the turnoff was just past the Goodbye Creek Picnic Area).

Overall, this drive would probably take around 90 minutes to 2 hours depending on how much delays we would have to stomach from road work (there always seemed to be these things no matter when you make your visit).

Finally, for some geographic context, Medford was 97 miles (over 90 minutes drive) south of Roseburg, 274 miles (over 4 hours drive) south of Portland, 308 miles (about 5 hours drive) north of Sacramento, California, and 692 miles (10.5 hours drive) north of Los Angeles, California.

Starting off with zoom-in on Duwee Falls before zooming out for context then sweeping back and forth horizontally before concluding with zoom-in on Duwee Falls again


Right to left sweep starting with pyroclastic flow cliffs before awkwardly zooming in on Duwee Falls then zooming out for context

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Tagged with: crater lake, national park, seepage, klamath, oregon, waterfall, medford, pyroclastic, mazama, godfrey glen



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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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