One of the highlights of Southern Oregon outdoors is the magnificent Crater Lake. Famous for being the deepest lake in the entire United States, it plunges into the earth almost 2,000 feet. Before it was a crater, it was ancient Mount Mazama, a volcano that eventually collapsed in on itself after a massive eruption. It is now the deepest lake in the Western Hemisphere, and the world’s deepest lake above sea level.
Crater Lake National Park offers a great getaway for all ages. It offers spectacular views and is rich in local history. It is a great place to take the kids. I remember being enthralled as a child with the Science and Learning Center right below the Rim Village, reading about the Klamath Native American Tribe and the original expeditions that were launched to learn more about the Crater Lake’s mysterious depths. And the views were, and still are, enough to take my breath away every time. And the snowball fights are pretty great, too.
Crater Lake Rim Village is usually open from late May to late September, but weather conditions can alter the schedule. During summer months, the North entrance is open and the 33-mile Rim Drive around Crater Lake is a two lane road that has more than 20 scenic overlooks, and is usually open mid-June to mid-October. Just remember that deer and other wildlife crossing the road and icy conditions at any time of the year can become hazardous to drivers.
For all operating hours – http://www.nps.gov/crla/planyourvisit/hours.htm
For current conditions – http://www.nps.gov/crla/planyourvisit/current-conditions.htm
For the Crater Cam – http://www.nps.gov/crla/photosmultimedia/webcams.htm
Some nearby National Parks include Umpqua National Forest, Rogue River National Forest, and Winema National Forest. And it may take a while, but the drive up to Crater Lake can be fun for everyone. Don’t forget to stop by Mill Creek Falls and Beckie’s, a small restaurant and tourist shop with widely-famous ice cream, pies, and souvenirs.
An interesting fact: If you hear someone refer to the “Old Man” of Crater Lake, they are talking about a mountain hemlock log that has been floating upright in the lake for more than 100 years. The wind currents enable the Old Man to float to different locations around the lake.