Trip Report: Crater Lake National Park

With intentions to be on the road no later than 8am last Saturday morning, it was actually closer to 8:45am by the time we had packed up the car, acquired espresso beverages, gassed up, and pointed ourselves in the Southerly direction on Interstate 5. Even though we were 45 minutes off our schedule, I was still optimistic we could reach our destination without encountering any significant delays.

My hopes were dashed when I noticed an unusually high proportion of vehicles sporting large “O” stickers, flapping flags, and green-and-yellow pom-poms peeking out of trunks and tailgates. Yup – it was game day for the University of Oregon Ducks, and seemingly half the Portland metropolitan area was on the freeway at the same time as we were.

For the most part, it was smooth sailing punctuated by long, inexplicable periods of stop-and-go traffic. The slowdowns really did seem to come at random intervals, but there was nothing we could do but grit our teeth until we were past Eugene.

A few miles North of Eugene, the morning’s Americano had finally made it’s way South to my bladder. So, we pulled off the road to a rest stop only to encounter dozens and dozens of Oregon Duck fans, most of whom were waiting in line for the women’s restroom. After the longest rest stop ever, we finally got back on the road and gritted our teeth as we sat through the slog of stop-and-go that mercifully ended just after Eugene. Free at last!!!

We stopped at Roseburg to buy some groceries for the cabin and to grab lunch at the local McMenamin’s. Roseburg didn’t seem too bad, but I couldn’t help wondering what the heck people do here.

Back on the road. The drive between Roseburg and Crater Lake National Park was stunningly beautiful – deep green forests, sparkling lakes, a constant parade of nature porn.  We finally arrived at the North entrance of Crater Lake National Park around 3pm, just in time to take a few pictures, and head for our cabin
at the Union Creek Resort about a half hour away. The cabin was – er – rustic, but had the necessary minimum requirements for camping – a full size kitchen, a fireplace, a warm bed, and most importantly – hot running water! We grilled burgers on the charcoal grill and retired early, somewhat tired from the 5+ hours of driving.

Crater Lake featuring Wizard Island

It's a crater. With a lake in it.

We were up bright and early Sunday and spent most of the day driving along Rim Drive, the thirty-something miles long road that circles around Crater Lake. We stopped many, many times to take pictures and videos from all different angles. The view never did get old.

The Phantom Ship in Crater Lake

From the Phantom Ship viewpoint. This was my favorite.

We left the park in the late afternoon, and with gas running low, drove an additional 11 miles from our cabin at Union Creek to Prospect, Oregon, the nearest town. I was hoping we would find a nice grocery store, maybe an espresso bar in this little town, but no dice. What we found was a pizza restaurant, several churches, lots of trailer homes, and a lone one-pump gas station. Well, at least we could fill up the car! With the theme from “Deliverance” playing in my head, I gassed up the car and high-tailed it back to the relative safety of our cabin.

Just a 5 minute walk from our cabin, there were more amazing sights to be seen – such as the Upper Rogue River Gorge.

Upper Rogue River Gorge

This was just a five minute walk from the cabin.

I could have sat there staring at the river and waterfalls forever, but The Husband was tired and cranky from spending all day in the car, so we hoofed it back to the cabin and bought some barbequed brisket and potato salad from the little stand across the road. Then we collapsed on the large comfy couch in the cabin and fought to stay awake until 9pm. It was the end of a long, but incredibly fun day.

We were up early Monday so we could drive through the park one more time on our way home. As we headed over to the Northeast side of the lake, we pulled off at a viewpoint where we were the only humans there. In fact, it felt like we were the only two people in the world. However, there were plenty of squirrels to keep us company! Fortunately, they were very friendly squirrels and I had a great time feeding them out of my hand. One little furball in particularly was very skilled at pushing the other squirrels out of the way, in order to get more than his share of the goodies.

Squirrel at Crater Lake National Park

Is that all you got?

I had to tear myself away from the squirrels, but I was anxious to make it home by mid-afternoon, and so off we went.

I absolutely enjoyed everything about Crater Lake and would love to go there again, for a longer and more leisurely visit. I can certainly see why people go there again and again – there’s just no way you could ever get sick of that kind of beauty.


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