Rating a place is necessarily a subjective matter. For our ratings to have any utility to you, you will need to know our basis for them. We will be rating components of each site we explore on a scale of one to ten based upon:
Scenery: For this scale, we consider the scope and elements of the view from places within the area being rated. To give you an idea, we consider the view as one drives into Yosemite Valley to be a 10. First of all it’s a view with a lot of elements including forests, rocks, and moving water (waterfalls). Second, it’s an expansive view with its elements close enough that they are clearly visible yet far enough away that we can look across the landscape and spend time discovering more and more elements. Third, it’s a view without distracting man-made elements. Similarly, the view of Crater Lake from the rim rates a 9. It retains all the elements of the Yosemite view without the waterfalls, but water and rock dominate. At the other end of the scale, a site where the elements are primarily grass lands, fairly uninteresting hills, mountains in the far distance and some man-made distractions would rate poorly.
Adventure: For this scale we think about how a person might interact with the area. The largest Wilderness Areas and back country areas in National Parks get the highest adventure ratings because they require an adventurous spirit to fully enjoy. At the bottom of the scale are ‘drive by’ areas. Places that require one to stay on a main road to get the full experience. Scenic byways would typically fall toward the bottom of this scale although the more remote they get, the more adventurous the experience becomes.
Variety: This scale looks at the things to see, do and explore in the area. The more things, consistent with the general theme of the area, the better. Campgrounds with rivers, lakes and mountains accessed by good trail systems rate highly on this scale. A small site, like a fishing pond or swimming hole without a broader context would not fare well.
Historic Significance: We included this scale since many visitors these days want to experience some history of the areas they visit. In the Klamath Basin, the Lava Beds National Monument would rate highly both because of it’s prehistoric significance to Native Americans and the more recent history of the Modoc War. While Crater Lake National Park has various prehistoric and historic components it doesn’t reach the level of an important Indian war like the Modoc War at the Lava Beds National Monument. In a smaller context Fort Klamath is linked to a broader time frame than the Modoc War and also includes many components related to the history of early settlement. It would rate highly in this category.
Kid Stuff: For families, it’s important that the kids have something to do. This scale addresses components of areas that kids might find to be fun. Swiming areas, boating, rock climbing opportunities, nature trails and the like all seem to attract the interest of kids and would help a location rate highly on this scale.
Overall: We’ll also include an over-all rating that is the average of the ratings in the other categories. If you’re looking for generally great sites, you might start with the overall score, but it’s still important to look at the individual ratings to see if a site meets your specific desires.