Our original plan was to drive our RV from the Oregon coast over to the North entrance to Crater Lake and camp at the Mazama Campground - which is a first come, first serve campground in the National Park. Easy peasy. But Oregon and the entire West Coast of the US saw a record amount of snowfall this past winter. Including Crater Lake.
A few days before our trip my son gave me the heads up that maybe we should check to see if the National Park was indeed open - and the campground also. Well, the park was but not the campground. So we were one for one. But the park only had one entrance open as opposed to the regular four. We scrambled to change our itinerary, find a campground ( By the way, if you need a nice campground outside of Eugene, Oregon the folks at Deerwood RV Park were incredibly nice and accommodating including loaning us an electric hook-up cable for the night) and re-route ourselves to the southern entrance to the park.
Upon arrival and seeing the massive amounts of snow still piled high in June, we considered ourselves lucky to be able to visit the park!
We started at the Steel Visitor Center - entering through the snow tunnel entrance as the melting snow blocked the regular entrance - and watched the movie about Crater Lake. We headed on down the road to the Rim Visitor Center but with a stop first to see our first view of the lake. Lots of people and a few photos later we went into the Visitor Center. There was a historical exhibit about the history of the National Park, a gift shop and a snack bar. After climbing over the snow we drove the RV down the one mile of the East Rim Drive that was open. It took us to another view of the lake including a view of Wizard Island. Obviously there was no access to the lake - which is usually only at the boat landing - and no boat running at this time. So I'm sure it's quite different to visit in July or August.
Our last stop of the day was at the Crater Lake Lodge - a beautiful old lodge with a big fireplace and craftsman style furniture overlooking the lake.( There are two places to stay in the park - this lodge and the Mazama cabins. Both need to be booked at least a year in advance. The lodge was totally sold out the day we visited) It was still a bit chilly out but we thought a visit to the lodge called for a glass of wine in the rocking chairs overlooking the lake with our feet up. As one does. We finished up with a walk around the inside of the lodge and a few minutes by the roaring fire - which felt incredibly toasty.
We hit up the Brewers Union Local 180 Public House for dinner. A pub with good beer and good food - "Oregon's only Real Ale Public House and Brewery" - located in Oakridge, Oregon which is completely surrounded by National Forest land. We even sprung for dessert.
You can't tell but there was ash falling from the sky in this picture. It was a controlled burn at this time - not the massive fires they had recently.
It was a really good day. I finally was able to visit - and see in person - Crater Lake. Snow and all. Would I recommend going even if all entrances aren't open? Definitely! Just know that it's not easy to get to. But then, places worth going to rarely are.
Things to know before you go:
- Crater Lake National Park is open year round but many of the park's features are closed in the winter. If you visit in May or June there may be snow and road closures. Most people visit in July, August and September when most facilities are open.
-There are two campgrounds located in the forests of Crater Lake National Park - Mazama takes a limited number of reservations and can accomodate RV's and tents. Lost Creek takes only tents and is first come, first served. Both are open only in the summer.
- Crater Lake Lodge is open seasonally usually from late May to late September.
-Standard Lake Cruises and tours of Wizard Island also operate seasonally. Check the website for more info.
Have you been to Crater Lake National Park?
This post is part of a link-up with: Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox and The Weekend Wanderlust Travel Blog Party!