2014 Great Circle Tour travel blog

Today's route to Crater Lake National Park

The view from Winnie this morning

Lot's of clouds this morning in the Klamath Valley dropping snow

Sue and I at the entrance to Crater Lake National Park

Sue sizing up the roadside markers for the snow plows - notice...

Scenes on the road up to the rim of Crater Lake

Fossilized steam - cones formed when steam escaped while lava cools

This dog drove to the Visitors Center

Crater Lake Visitors Center

One of the cottages that employees use

Leo look alike right down to the stick

Here I am standing on the rim of Crater Lake - Sure...

The snow made photography difficult trying to keep the camera dry

Crater Lake when the sun came out

View toward the Wizard Island in the lake

Trees highlighted against the lake's surface

A view toward the east

Snow squall moving across the lake

Men's Room in a snow bank

10+ ft of snow and it was a dry winter

Back in the valley looking back toward the summit

Cattle interested in me taking their picture

Bald eagle

Mural in Klamath Falls

We woke up this morning to a light coating of snow on the grass and the temperature in the low 30’s. It sure feels like late winter than a month into spring. After a couple of errands, we headed up to Crater Lake National Park. It’s a pretty ride across the Klamath Valley to the Crater Lake Highway. The clouds across the valley and in the mountains were creating snow scattered snow squalls even while the sun was out over your head. We entered Crater Lake NP on OR 62 which is kept open throughout the winter by Oregon DOT and the NPS. Pretty much all of the snow is gone below 4,000 ft. Above that there was more and more left over from the winter. By the time we got to the Visitors Center, the trees were covered and drifts were still 6-8 ft deep. The roads and parking lots are lined with wooden posts at least 10 ft tall with reflectors at the top to show the snow plow drivers where the edge of the pavement is. The Park Ranger at the Visitors Center they had had about a foot of snow overnight. We’ve never seen so much snow. In a normal winter there would be even more as this winter was dry.

The road to the rim of Crater Lake is kept open all winter, but Rim Rd., the 33-mile road along the circumference of the lake is closed until late June. We drove up to the Rim Café and Gift Shop and had lunch before venturing out to the rim of the lake. Sue stayed in the Gift Shop while I ventured out into the snow squall that had enveloped the rim of the lake. There are no paths or pavement to get to the rim, but fortunately there have been enough visitors to pack the snow so it was relatively easy to walk on. I tried taking some pictures with the snow falling with varying success so I decided to head back to the café. Walking at 6,500 feet gets you a little winded especially in the snow. Once I got back inside the sun decided to come out and the lake was pretty clear so we headed back to the rim. The lake is spectacular in the sun. It’s hard to take it all in. The water wasn’t as blue today as it appears in some of the postcards. Probably the clouds and wind caused it to be muted.

Crater Lake is inside the collapsed remnants of an ancient volcano known as Mount Mazama. Its greatest eruption took place about 7,700 years ago and was the largest to occur in North America for more than half a million years. The mountain has now been dormant for five thousand years, but geologists do expect it to reawaken someday. There are no inlets or outlets to the lake. The winter snows, averaging 524 inches (that’s 44feet), and any rainfall in the other seasons supply water to the lake. At 1,943 feet deep, it is the deepest lake in the US and one of the deepest in the world. The lake is about 5 miles in diameter and the surface of the water is about 2,000 feet below the rim. There’s a small volcanic island, Wizard Island, on the west side of the lake that rises 767 feet above the lakes surface.

On the way back, I happened to notice a bald eagle perched on top of a telephone pole. I stooped the car and turned around with the hopes of getting a picture of him while perched. As I tried to drive the car back slowly, he noticed and took off. I had my camera ready and tried to catch him flying past the car, but for some reason the shutter wouldn’t release until he was a good distance away. I tried to change lenses to my really long lens, but by the time I got it mounted he had disappeared. I’m disappointed that all I got was one of him soaring from a distance.

It was well worth the extra days stay to be able to see the beauty of Crater Lake. Although you can’t drive the rim road, I’m glad we able to see the lake dressed for winter. I’d love to come back during the summer so we can explore Crater Lake further.

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