While the lo­cals “Keep Port­land Weird,” you can keep your dive gear wet at these nearby gems

Scuba Diving - - Travel - JEN­NIFER IDOL is the first woman to dive all 50 United States, au­thor of An Amer­i­can Im­mer­sion, and a PADI Am­bas­sadiver. She’s also a mem­ber of the Ocean Artists So­ci­ety. BY JEN­NIFER IDOL

In­di­vid­u­al­ity rules in Port­land, where any­one can suit their in­ter­ests with ev­ery­thing from ex­otic cof­fee shops and in­ter­na­tional food trucks to ex­pan­sive book­stores and out­door ad­ven­ture. Vis­i­tors to Port­land can reap the benefi ts of the clear spring waters sur­round­ing nearby Mount Hood and rich north­west­ern div­ing in Puget Sound.


Con­nect with a lo­cal dive shop to find a buddy, rent some gear, and head to Lit­tle Crater Lake. Ideal for in­ter­me­di­ate divers com­fort­able in dry­suits, some of the clear­est water in Amer­ica — with viz at 100-plus feet — is wait­ing to be ex­plored. Within two hours of Port­land, Lit­tle Crater Lake sits on the Pa­cific Crest Trail at an el­e­va­tion of 3,300 feet, bub­bling up by the foot of Mount Hood. The spring is best reached hik­ing down a short path with a cart. Spring tem­per­a­tures stay con­sis­tently close to 43 de­grees F. Af­ter div­ing, warm up with some cof­fee in down­town Port­land.


Take the two-and-a-half hour drive from Port­land or rent an on-site cabin at Clear Lake Re­sort. Ei­ther way, rise early enough to start your day with a shore dive and af­ford­able pad­dle-boat ex­cur­sion at Clear Lake, a spring that was cre­ated when lava flowed into the north shore 3,000 years ago, pre­serv­ing an un­der­wa­ter for­est. Af­ter div­ing, hike on the Mcken­zie River Na­tional Recre­ation Trail to Tamolitch Blue Pool or head back to the city to do some sight­see­ing at the Oregon Zoo or down­town area. There, you can head to pop­u­lar Pow­ell’s Books or try the dev­il­ishly delicious Voodoo Dough­nut.


Fully ex­pe­ri­ence the best of the North­west by driv­ing just over two hours north to Ta­coma, Wash­ing­ton, where a char­ter boat will chauf­feur you to the best sites in Puget Sound. Soak in the stun­ning struc­ture of Dalco Wall — which starts at 35 feet and plum­mets beyond 110 feet — or en­joy some face time with the crit­ters hid­ing among the ar­ti­fi­cial reef at KVI Tower, in­clud­ing nudi­branchs, plumose anemones, red Ir­ish lords and, if you’re lucky, wolf eels and gi­ant Pa­cific oc­to­puses. But don’t let boat div­ing steal all of your at­ten­tion; save a day to see Mount St. He­lens — an hour and a half from Port­land — or en­joy the year-round skiing and snowboarding in the re­gion.

Above: Oregon’s Clear Lake lives up to its name with 100-plus feet of vis­i­bil­ity.

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