Crater Lake Nat’l Park, Ore. — Crater Lake National Park is arguably Oregon’s premier visitor destination.
It’s estimated that about half a million visitors visit Crater Lake National park each year – it’s also estimated that about 90% of them don’t travel much farther beyond the Rim Village.
Park Superintendent Craig Ackerman said, “Crater Lake’s average visitor sees it through a windshield – and they stay, probably just under 3 hours.”
Rim Village provides a first view of the lake for many. “It’s like what I read about when people came up here, and they were talking about all kinds of stuff – and when they saw it, everyone stopped talking,” said Richard Stapper, a first time visitor to the park.
The Castle Crest Wildflower garden is located just across from park headquarters. Park Ranger Jennifer Evans said, “It’s less than half a mile, and you’re walking through lush gardens – butterflies, I’ve seen many deer back there.”
There are also plenty of trails for more adventurous hikers. “One of my favorite hikes in the park is to Garfield Peak, which is just behind the lodge – you get a spectacular view of the lake, and of the lodge,” said Ackerman.
The Pinnacles Road is another often-overlooked corner of the park. “It was hard for me to understand how they were formed – it just looks like nothing else in the park,” said Evans.
Crater Lake Lodge has been welcoming guests over the past century. The lodge is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. While it may be a little too late to get overnight reservations, it’s still worth going ahead and getting a meal in the dining area.
The Rim Drive is just as beautiful by bicycle as it is by car. “Well, it’s a great ride – rode a lot of the national park rides, and it’s probably one of the best,” said cyclist Ward Einess.
Special ‘Hike and Bike’ weekends are now being offered in the spring and fall. “Two Saturdays in September, the 19th and the 26th, they’ll actually have the east rim, will be closed to motorized vehicles,” said Ranger Evans.
Our Tank of Gas Getaway has only scratched the surface — we didn’t mention Cleetwood Cove. Ranger Evans said, “I think a lot of visitors don’t realize that you can fish here – and there’s some huge trout down there.” or the ‘Lady of the Woods’ and many other beautiful trails.
Ackerman said, “Beautiful old growth forests, wildlife, flowers, scenery, geology.” And all of that beauty is only a tankful of gas away. “So it’s something that you shouldn’t pass up when it’s less than an hour, or just slightly an hour from your front door,” added Ackerman.