Tank of Gas Getaway: Crater Lake

Crater Lake National Park is arguably Oregon’s premier visitor destination.

It’s estimated that about half-a-million visitors visit the 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.

First-time visitor Richard Stapper said, “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.”

The Castle Crest Wildflower Garden is located just across from park headquarters.

“It’s less than half a mile, and you’re walking through lush gardens – butterflies, i’ve seen many deer back there,” said Ranger Jennifer Evans.

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,” said Ackerman. “You get a spectacular view of the lake, and of the lodge.”

The Pinnacles Road is another often-overlooked corner of the park.

Ranger Evans said, “It was hard for me to understand how they were formed. It just looks like nothing else in the park.”

Crater Lake Lodge has been welcoming guests over the past century.

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.

Cyclist Ward Einess said, “Well, it’s a great ride, rode a lot of the national park rides, and it’s probably one of the best.”

Special “hike and bike” weekends are now being offered in the spring and fall.

Ranger Evans said, “Two Saturdays in September, the 19th and the 26th, they’ll actually have the east rim, will be closed to motorized vehicles.”

Our Tank of Gas Getaway has only scratched the surface we didn’t mention Cleetwood Cove.

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. “Beautiful old growth forests, wildlife, flowers, scenery, geology,” said Ackerman. “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.”

And all of that beauty is only a tankful of gas away.

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