I’ll preface this blog entry by saying that I simply can’t do justice to Crater Lake in words or pictures. As soon as I post this I will start uploading selected photos to Flickr, so you can see more. But in short, it is spectacular.
The entire central Oregon area is great: wild rivers and lakes stocked with trout, rafting, hiking, huge forests of lodgepole pine, ancient lava flows, and cheap National Forest campsites everywhere. On the drive up from the Rogue Valley we stopped at waterfalls and gorges, even a spot where the Rogue River goes underground and then re-emerges downstream.
But the crown jewel is undoubtedly Crater Lake. The most convenient campgrounds to Crater Lake are the park’s Mazama campground or, just north, Diamond Lake. We stayed at Diamond Lake, which has both a cheap National Forest campground ($10, no hookups), and a full-hookup RV park. Both feature views of Diamond Lake, and a few very large mosquitoes. The RV park has free wi-fi near the entry building, but I didn’t realize that until it was too late.
Since Diamond Lake is about 5,100 feet, the temperatures are cool and comfortable. Up at Crater Lake, nearly 2,000 feet higher, there’s still a lot of snow left. The park gets an average of 44 feet of snow, so some of the roads were still closed. The park won’t fully open until July. It was in the 50s and 60s while we visited — a nice day for Crater Lake in June.
The short season of the park (unless you are into winter sports) was a small problem for us, since all the hiking trails were closed, some of the facilities were undergoing renovation, and the Rim Drive that circles the crater was definitely off-limits. With few things to do, our visit was basically a couple of hours on Saturday afternoon, and a few hours mid-Sunday. Mostly, we gaped at the view and took pictures.
The water of the lake is exactly as blue as it appears in the pictures. Photo notes: you’ll want a circular polarizer, and this is the place to set your camera on Aperture Priority mode. I tried to get F13-22 for most of the long shots.
The Lodge at Crater Lake looks like a great place to stay if you don’t have an RV. It’s really a completely rebuilt replica of the original lodge, which was a structural disaster. This one retains the lodge feel with great stone fireplaces and exposed wood everywhere, but with more modern conveniences. Even if you’re not a guest, you can sit out by the lake and admire the view for the price of any drink from the restaurant’s bar.
Sunday we met a few Airstreamers who, like us, are headed to Salem for the big rally. One couple, Rickie and Yank, are in a Safari 28 formerly owned by John Ratzenberger (of Cheers fame). We’ll try to meet up with them again in the nearby town of Sisters later this week.
I also just heard from Colin Hyde. He worked on Vintage Thunder last year and will be working on Vintage Lightning this year. He’s planning to come to the International Rally for a few days to help show off a 65 Caravel he just restored for a client.
Tonight we are in a state park in Bend. Our plan is to use this as a base for most of the week, since there’s a lot to see and do in this area.