Rim Drive encircles Crater Lake and is 33 miles of pure scenery. Take advantage of the pull-offs and picnic areas found along the paved route. Each presents a new vantage point from which to look down into the spectacular blue water and study the geologic formations protruding from the lake’s surface—Phantom Ship and Wizard Island. Phantom Ship, named for its likeness to a ghostly ship with tall masts and drooping sails, is actually a remnant of an ancient volcano more than 400,000 years old that was engulfed by Mt. Mazama. Wizard Island is quite young in comparison, made mostly of cinders erupted within the last few thousand years.
Crater Lake’s popular boat tours are a delight if you don’t mind a round-trip trek on the steep switch-backing Cleetwood Trail. This is the sole route to reach Crater Lake’s shoreline and boat dock, but it’s well worth the requisite exercise. Ranger-guided boat tours sail to Wizard Island where passengers can disembark, hike to its summit, then catch a later boat back to the dock. For those less adventurous, simply stay aboard and continue cruising around the lake. Tickets can be purchased at the Cleetwood Cove Trailhead kiosk prior to heading down the steep trail. Bottled water, sundries, and other small items also can be purchased at the kiosk, but be sure to take your own warm jacket and sunglasses to ensure an enjoyable boat tour. No services are available at the boat dock.
Even if you’re staying in a park campground and won’t need a room or a meal here, take a peek inside Crater Lake Lodge. Built in an ideal spot near the edge of the caldera wall overlooking Crater Lake, the lodge was extensively renovated in 1995 after being closed for many years. Fortunately, many of the original materials were salvaged and reused during the restoration, so the historic lodge appears today much as it did in the 1920s. One of the best views of Crater Lake and Wizard Island is from the seat of a wooden rocking chair found on the deck of the lodge!
From October through June, Crater Lake National Park turns into a winter wonderland. Much of the park is buried in snow, but you can still visit to cross-country ski or snowshoe. The North Entrance Road and Rim Drive are closed, but Highway 62 through the park, and the road to park headquarters and Rim Village remain open. The Steel Information Center and Rim Cafe and gift shop are the only visitor facilities open during the winter months.
No matter the season, Crater Lake National Park leaves a lasting impression and its rich diversity makes it an unbeatable destination for RVers.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Crater Lake National Park Visitor Center phone: (541) 594-2211
For the latest road and weather information, call (541) 594-3000
In addition to writing about her travels, Denise Seith is also a treasure hunter and loves a good latté. She and her husband own an online gold prospecting and metal detecting equipment store found at GoldRushTradingPost.com