Sample Chapter - Trails of Crater Lake & Oregon Caves
Half a million people visit Oregon’s National Park each year. The question visitors most often ask may well be “Why is the lake so blue?” and yes, there is an answer. But first let’s look at other practical questions you may have when planning a visit—”When is the park open?” “How do I get there?” and “Where can I stay?”WHEN IS THE PARK OPEN?
Crater Lake National Park never closes, but because an average of 44 feet of snow fall each winter, many facilities and virtually all trails are closed from November to early June or July. The Rim Village viewpoint and the Steel Information Center at Park Headquarters are open all year.
Of the park’s roads, only Highway 62 and the South Entrance Road to Rim Village are kept open in winter. Crews start plowing other roads in mid-April, clearing drifts up to 50 feet deep. West Rim Drive and the North Entrance Road from Diamond Lake typically open to traffic between late May and mid-June. East Rim Drive is the next priority, and usually opens in early July. For more information, call 541-594-3000 or check www.nps.gov/crla.
HOW DO I GET THERE?
Klamath Falls, Medford, Bend/Redmond, and Eugene have the nearest commercial airports with rental cars.
If you’re driving here from Interstate 5, take exit 30 in Medford and follow Crater Lake Highway 62 northeast for 76 miles. A mile beyond the Cascade summit, turn left to the park’s south entrance booth. Expect to pay a $10-per-car fee here. The permits are valid for a week. Beyond the entrance booth,Mazama Village is 0.3 mile, Park Headquarters is 3.8 miles, and Rim Village is 6.4 miles.
If you’re driving here from Klamath Falls, take Highway 97 north 23 miles and turn left on Highway 62 for 30 miles to the park turnoff. If you’re coming from Roseburg, Eugene, or Bend, it’s quickest to take the park North Entrance Road, open from about late May to September.
WHERE CAN I STAY?
Mazama Campground is located near the park’s south entrance booth at Mazama Village. Open from mid-June through September, the campground has 200 sites, running water, flush toilets, coin-operated showers, and laundry facilities. Expect to pay about $21 for a tent site and $27 for an RV site with an electric hookup. Half of the sites are reservable in advance at 888-774-2728. The adjacent Mazama Village has gasoline, a general store, and a buffet restaurant.
Lost Creek Campground, the park’s only other campground, is much smaller. The 16 sites are open only to tenters on a first-come-first-served basis. Expect a $10 fee. The camp has running water and flush toilets. From Park Headquarters, take East Rim Drive counter-clockwise around the lake 8.5 miles and turn right on Pinnacles Road for 3 miles.
Crater Lake Lodge is a grandly renovated hotel from the early 1900s overlooking the lake at Rim Village. Usually open from mid-May to mid-October, the lodge has 71 rooms that range from about $151 to $282. Reservations should be made well in advance at 888-774-2728 orwww.craterlakelodges.com.
The Cabins at Mazama Village offer 40 rooms in a less dramatic motel setting for about $126. Call 541-830-8700 for reservations.
WHY IS THE LAKE SO BLUE?
Because the water in Crater Lake is so deep and so pure, light with long wavelengths (such as reds and yellows) penetrates deeply and is absorbed. What gets scattered back to the surface is the light with short wavelengths—the blues.
This sample chapter taken from Trails of Crater Lake National Park & Oregon Caves Nationa Monument by William L. Sullivan.