Today I am continuing to share details about specific stops on our summer family road trip. If you’re new around here, my family took a nine-day road trip through northern California and into Oregon. It was amazing – not just from the scenery stand point, but also an amazing time for our family. We made lots of memories. I’ve been sharing details about each stop to help those of you who might like to visit the same part of the country. Today is all about Crater Lake.
If you are going to be visiting northern California, you owe yourself a trip a little further north into Oregon. In the southern part of Oregon you will find Crater Lake National Park. This park is nothing short of breathtaking. It is worth every minute you spend driving to get there. A photo on Pinterest grabbed my attention, and that was my first introduction to Crater Lake. I pinned it to my travel board as a place I wanted to go. And trust me, it did not disappoint.
For this leg of the trip, we left from Redding, California and drove north into Oregon. This trip took about 4 hours (I think). The drive itself was mostly at night and hard to see all the beauty; however, the part of the drive that we had daylight was spectacular. Mount Shasta, Shasta Lake, all the mountains…just amazing. Highway driving in northern California is far from boring! We overnighted in Klamath Falls. I can tell you that our hotel was not impressive. However, Klamath Falls is a small town and your choices are limited. It was clean and that’s all I can tell you.
From Klamath Falls we headed to Crater Lake. It was a 96 mile drive and took about two hours. We decided to stay in Klamath Falls so that we would have the opportunity to see this part of the country. AND due to our late planning, our options were limited. The scenery is lovely. However, when you arrive at the park entrance, you really begin to be impressed. This is a National Park so you will have to pay a $15 entrance fee for the day.
The road winds through a forest with huge trees and eventually gives way to clearer areas. Then you begin to have the sense that you are on the edge of a mountain, which does make sense because your car has been climbing. Again, we were so surprised to see snow still on the ground in some areas. Honestly, as Texans, we saw more snow on this July road trip than we’ve seen in several winters at home!
At last as you’re driving, you can catch glimpses through the trees of the bluest water I’ve ever seen. There are several places that you can stop inside the park to get information on the park, hiking trails, hear park ranger talks, etc. There is also a visitor’s center with snacks and a gift shop. Near the visitor’s center there is an observation overlook that you can walk down to. Built into the side of the land, it sits 900 feet above the water.
From the observation deck you get amazing views of the lake. In addition, you find a lot of information on the lake, the geology, history, and how the lake formed. This lake is actually laying in a caldera of the top of a volcano. If you visit the National Park site, it tells you:
Crater Lake inspires awe. Native Americans witnessed its formation 7,700 years ago, when a violent eruption triggered the collapse of a tall peak. Scientists marvel at its purity: fed by rain and snow, it’s the deepest lake in the USA and perhaps the most pristine on earth. Artists, photographers, and sightseers gaze in wonder at its blue water and stunning setting atop the Cascade Mountain Range.
Truly, I have never seen water this blue. Just so you know, I have not retouched any of these photos. This is exactly how it looks. You might be wondering why the water is so blue. I was.
If you plan your trip ahead, you can even book a boat tour of the lake. Unfortunately, by the time we learned about it, the tours were sold out . On the tours, you can actually go out to Wizard Island and explore.
After visiting the visitor’s center and spending some time on the observation deck, we drove the perimeter of the lake, stopping at many spots to take pictures and do a little exploring. We planned just one day to explore this beautiful area. However, we could have easily spent more time. There are MANY hiking trails and planned activities for kids. We saw many people out biking around the lake as well. If you want to visit, I would say you would at least want to spend one night at the lake so that you could take advantage of some of the night activities. There is a lodge at the lake. It is reasonably priced and has a restaurant as well as a deck that overlooks the lake. I would have loved to have shared a bottle of wine on that deck at sunset. 🙂
If you’re not staying at the park, but just touring for one day, a word of warning. The food choice at the visitor’s center is limited and expensive. My advice is to pack a lunch or make sure to eat up before you get there. We did neither. We picked up some protein bars at the center thinking we would grab a big lunch after. There is nothing close to the park for stopping to eat. We were starving by the time we finally got lunch.
If you want to see more beautiful pics and learn a little more about Crater Lake, the Huffington Post wrote an article about Wizard Island here. Also, Pleasures of the NW wrote a detailed blog post about Crater Lake. You can find that one here. Finally, Crater Lake has a Facebook page as well. you can find that here.
I am thrilled that we were able to enjoy this American treasure, even if it was only for a day. I hope we will plan another trip here where we can see even more of this beautiful area. Have you visited a place that just begs for you to return? What is your favorite scenic spot? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Also, if you’ve visited Crater Lake and have any tips to share, please leave those as well.
I will have more trip posts coming soon. In the meantime, if you missed the other posts, you can find them here and here. Don’t forget to join my email list (which I do not share) here so that you don’t miss a post.
Until next time~