Crater Lake: One of Oregon's Seven Wonders
Crater Lake National Park in southern Oregon is truly a magical place and it's no wonder as to why its main feature Crater Lake is declared as one of Oregon's seven wonders. Nothing can prepare you as you make your first stop along the paved road that overlooks this 6 mile wide caldera, not even the most seasoned explorer. Crater Lake was created by the eruption and collapse of an ancient volcano, Mount Mazama, over 7000 years ago. The Klamath Native Americans, who may have witnessed the collapse and the formation of Crater Lake, have long regarded the lake as a sacred site. Overtime and with the improvements in technology; it's now recognized as the deepest lake in the United States, one of the deepest in the world and it even contains some of the purest water around! Thirsty anyone?
Crater Lake was one of the places that I was really looking forward to seeing on my recent road trip through 12 National Parks. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, all of my prior knowledge about Crater Lake was introduced to me while watching the movie Wild. It made a brief yet memorable appearance and once I learned of its exact location I knew I had to visit! After waking up early from a cold night spent camping at a KOA in Medford Oregon, I set out for the 77 mile trip with my coffee in hand. It was a beautiful scenic drive along the stunning Rogue River, which only heightened my excitement and eagerness arrive.
Once you arrive and reach the rim of Crater Lake, you'll instantly know why it's long been considered a sacred site. I don't think I've ever seen anything like it to this day! You can see what a wonder the world really is. The lakes deep blue water is surrounded by cliffs almost 2,000 feet high and boast a picturesque island created by a violent volcanic past. It's also home to serene hikes in old-growth forest and adrenaline fueled cross-country ski trips in the winter months. I visited Crater Lake during Spring which made for great weather conditions; a stark contrast to its winters, which are extremely cold and enormous snowfall is always expected! Even though campgrounds had just closed, all roads around the rim were still open. I mainly stuck to the paved road, which offered amazing views of the lake and its two famous islands (Wizard Island and Phantom Ship) at every half mile!
THINGS TO KNOW
Winter rules Crater Lake National Park. It can start closing seasonal roads in mid-October and last through June. An average year sees 44 feet of snow dropped on the park. With that in mind, things can change dramatically from the quiet of winter to hustle and bustle of summer.
Roads | Highway 62 and the road to Rim Village (Munson Valley Road) are plowed and open all year; however, snowy and icy road conditions can occur anytime, resulting in temporary road closures. Always review Current Conditions before your visit. Plowing of the Rim Drives, North Entrance Road and the Pinnacles Road typically starts in mid to late April. West Rim Drive and North Entrance Road can open to vehicles as early as June. East Rim Drive and the Pinnacles Road do not normally open to vehicles until July.
Trails | With winter delivering almost 44 feet of snow, hiking trails normally melt open starting in mid-June. Trails at the higher elevations, like Mt. Scott, can be snowbound until mid-July. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing opportunities can begin as early as mid-October when the winter's first snowstorms can drop a foot or more of snow. Winter activity opportunities typically can last into June.
Facilities | The Steel Visitor Center is located at Park Headquarters and open daily (except December 25) from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm from late April to early November. Winter hours are 10:00 am to 4:00 pm from early November to early April.
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About The Author
In 2015, Founder of TMDE Paul Martinez left a career in sales for a life of exploring. In just a matter of months he had visited over 10 countries, 30 cities, 10 states, countless national parks, taken thousands of photographs, and did a ton of soul-searching. His search uncovered a deep passion for exploration; which he now believes to be the essence of the human spirit, and led to the birth of The Modern Day Explorer. You can follow him on his personal journey by visiting his Instagram, and hopefully continue to support TMDE by following us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.