Crater Lake National Park

One last trip before winter hits! We decided to knock off another National Park by heading to Southern Oregon and see Crater Lake.

We should have seen Crater Lake a long time ago. Both of us saw it on family trips when we were kids. We went to college in Klamath Falls, OR, and considered going to Crater Lake because it was really close, but we always ended up spending our free weekends at Tule Lake and the Lava Beds Caves. Crater Lake was always just something I had a vague idea of where it was, and we figured we’d get there sometime. We literally drove right by it everytime we drove to school and back home. But who knew after college we’d move to another state and not get around to it for <cough> 30 years?!

On the way down we stopped for lunch and Dave showed off our ability to fit into any parking lot where he can find two parking spots end to end. This is the real reason we will probably never move up to a bigger trailer. It is so convenient when travelling to know we should always be able to find a spot to park it.

On the way down the road climbed over a mountain and as it got higher, things got colder, and by the top it was sprinking snow on us, and Dave was getting skeptical about my trip planning. The weather said it was supposed to be nice all week, so I tried to keep the faith. The trip took a little longer than expected so by the time we got to Diamond Lake, it was dark. It was also only a week out from it closing for the season, and it looked buttoned up, and completely empty as we drove past the closed ranger station and wound through the empty park. We found a spot not far from the only other trailer there, right on the lake, and didn’t even bother to unhook for the night. We checked our phones and found we had no service. I made a quick dinner and Dave went out to get something from the cooler in the car, and walked back in and announced it was snowing! We went to bed and it was the darkest and questest place I think I’ve ever been, as the snow drifted down around us, nervous to see what it would look like by morning.

To our relief, the snow didn’t stick, and the roads were clear. If we had woke up to a foot of snow, with no cell phone coverage and no ranger on duty, I’m not sure what we would have done next. We decided to pull out and head up the road to my backup campground, Lemolo Lake KOA, which was even farther off the main roads, but for some reason had cell coverage and was staffed.

On the way we realized we were low on gas, and it was getting a little sketchy for driving even farther off the beaten path and then all the way back to the main highway. Luckily there was a gas station between the two campgrounds, so we stopped there first. When we got there there were two cars waiting at the pumps, and one person was walking back to their car from the building, so we figured it was open. One car left and we pulled up and waited. In Oregon you have to wait for the attendant to pump your gas. And we waited, and waited, and waited. Finally Dave went to the building and the person in the other car said she had used the phone to call the attendant, and he was on his way (from wherever he lived, apparently somewhere nearby). A couple minutes later a pickup truck pulled up and the gentleman got out and got us all gassed up! They probably don’t get a lot of customers this time of year!

We headed up to the KOA, and got all settled in. It cost a bit more, but now we had full hookups, electricity, cell service, and a little store on site. Everything we needed. I felt a lot better about leaving the trailer unattended there. There was even another Airstream.

We were finally ready to head off to see Crater Lake.

Crater Lake is inside of a mountain that has blown it’s top, leaving a crater in the middle, which filled with water. So at the slightly higher elevation of the mountain, the snow from the previous night stuck around a bit longer.

What a treat to see the rim covered in snow! I would not have planned a trip if I had known there would be snow, because we have had some bad experiences with snow driving, and the snow piles on up here in a hurry. In fact the East Rim drive was closed by snow just a few days after our visit!

For this beautiful, sunny morning, it was a winter wonderland!

The blue-green water around Wizard Island was stunning! Even more so than the photograph could capture. And..are those fish down there in the shallows?

We worked our way around the rim, stopping at all the overlooks and chatting with folks from all around the country who had come to see this natural wonder. Everyone was just so happy to be there, and amazed by the beauty of it all!

Sunglasses selfie!

We hiked up to the Phantom Ship overlook. This rock formation is apparently bigger than it looks – 16 stories tall! It is the oldest part of the original volcano – 400,000 years old!

Crater Lake is all about shades of blue.

As we went further East, we got a glimpse of cool rock formations and colorful bands showing different layers in the rock. I wish I knew enough geology to read what it is telling us!

On the east side of the lake we were eye-to-eye with Mt Scott. Looking at a map, and then looking at it later from Highway 97…(with help from Google Earth)

You could be driving down Hiway 97, see this little mountain, and not have any inkling that Crater Lake is right there on the other side of it! You are looking right at Crater Lake!

All you have to do is change your perspective a little. Imagine the view if Mt Mazama was still there!

From up there by Mt Scott we could see across the valley to the North, where we had come from. That lake in between the two mountains (Mt Bailey on the left, Mt Thielsen on the right), in the center of the picture, that’s Diamond Lake, where we stayed the first night. The KOA is a bit further North.

Between Crater Lake and the campground there was a lot of burned forest. Mt Bailey is barely visible between the charred trunks.

That night in the trailer I could just not get comfortable. The heater was squeeking, the foam matress was too thin, the leg kept falling off the gaucho (I’ve been putting up with that since we bought it), and I just wasn’t having it. I tossed and turned and in the morning we thought about what else we wanted to do down here, and decided…nothing. We came for Crater Lake, and we saw Crater Lake. We had it pretty well covered. So we packed up, and headed home.

So the next project on my list will be a remodel to fix several things about the camper which will make it much more comfortable to use next season. I’ll be sure and post to the blog as I do them.

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