We turned off the road to head to Crater Lake – the only National Park in Oregon and a site we might have skipped if not for friends’ recommendations – with less than a 1/4 tank of gas and no reservation. We hoped to stay IN the park-its campground is the closest to the lake, making access easy. But I was nervous-what if the campground was full? Our M.O. of making plans one day ahead of time does not square with the park’s online reservation system that you plan at least (a shocking) two days ahead of time. Plus-gas! We’ve been averaging 11.5 miles a gallon. Ugh.
We zoomed past the entrance with our national park Golden Eagle pass (a bon voyage gift from Ben and Joan – merci!) straight to the kiosk for walk ins. Score! Campsites available plus… gas pumps, located on site! We did our circle the campground loops thing, picking out the best site and chose D loop, site 13, overlooking a lovely gorge. Temps were cold – snow / rain was in the forecast.
This is our fourth campground, and though our carefully posed photos of the others might suggest otherwise, this is the first one that really made us go WOW.
Maybe it’s the time of year – not too crowded, summer fading – but the forest is lovely, the chipmunks camera ready, and the sites were (all?) pull through rather than back in which we hadn’t seen yet. And I guess really – and this is maybe connected to it being a national park – no road noise, far from “civilization”.
Your first view of the lake is breathtaking – clear, blue, vast.
We did a ranger talk, a hike, and the rim drive – about 22 miles.
I heard that the best things to note in a travel journal, or in photos, are the things you want to remember.
Things we want to remember about Crater Lake:
Ben: The park ranger, in his talk had us picture the people living in this area when the volcano blew – imagine your whole life a 12,000 foot mountain is a part of your landscape. Then one day – in less than 12 hours – it was gone, replaced with a 2000 foot crater (or more accurately a caldera.)
Meg: The hike up Watchman – where there is a national landmark fire watching station – still used today. With key supplies like a pencil, pencil sharpener and glass cleaner.
There were actually fires in the distance too – set by lightening, watched and controlled by firefighters. Naturally occurring fire (lightning), that doesn’t threaten human property or people, is an important part of the natural process and is allowed to burn.
We had such a great day – and a night of freezing temps as we were still missing a few parts to get the propane heater warmed up. Our gas stove warmed things up a bit and wool blankets too. Ben’s fingers nearly froze hooking up the trailer to leave in the morning.
Doesn’t hurt to celebrate an anniversary – and I’m currently typing/posting this while doing another FIRST: Laundry! Woot!