Views around the Rim of Crater Lake

Views around the Rim of Crater Lake

As usual, Jave and I always try to squeeze way too much into our short getaways. This time, it kind of bit us in the butt. After visiting California’s Del Norte Coast, we spent a night in Grants Pass, OR, and the next morning we got up at the crack of dawn to make our way to Crater Lake National Park for the day.

We were scheduled for a 10:30am Crater Lake Rim Drive tour with Crater Lake Trolley Tours, and having endured a bunch of back and forth with the tour company’s archaic reservation process while planning the trip, I wanted to make sure that we left in plenty of time to make the hour and a half drive to Crater Lake.

Until my alarm clock went off early that morning, it hadn’t hit me that I had no idea where we were supposed to meet for the tour, and after checking the tour company’s website and calling them only to find that the reservation office was closed for the day, I still had no idea. So I decided to call the concierge at the Crater Lake Lodge in hopes that they’d know where we were supposed to meet. We were told that we could simply drive up to the lodge and park there as the trolley tour company was just a short walk away.

Cool! We were on our way. The drive to Crater Lake National Park was stunningly beautiful with acres and acres of verdant farmland, the refreshing waters of the Rogue River rushing past, and the colorful first signs of the fall foliage. We resisted the urge to stop for pictures since we were so pressed for time and were relieved when we finally made it to the park’s entrance at 10:20am with ten minutes to spare. But our navigation system told us that we still had another ten or so miles to drive to reach the lodge, so we stepped on it.

But I had to slow down as the roads began to narrow the further up we drove, and when we finally caught our first glimpse of Crater Lake, I slowed down even more. Not necessarily because we wanted to take the time to admire the lake’s beauty, but because the sudden sight of the lake was downright intimidating. Imagine, on one side of the narrow road you have a steep drop off into the deepest lake in the U.S. at 1,943 feet deep, and on the other side of the road you have a steep drop off the mountain into slopes of trees. A bit nervous, I rebuffed Jave’s offer to drive (he’s one of those drivers who likes to take his eyes off the road to admire the scenery), and I took the liberty of driving in the middle of the road, only moving to my lane at the sight of an approaching car.

By this time, it was 10:30am on the nose.

“The tour company will give us at least a ten minute grace period,” I told Jave as he made call after dropped call to the lodge in hopes that they could reach out to the tour company on our behalf to alert them that we were minutes (or so we thought) away. “I mean, it would only be right for them to give people a grace period,” I said trying to convince myself.

When our navigation told us we had finally reached our destination, we were flabbergasted to find that there was no lodge on either side of the road. So I called the lodge in hopes that they could give us some clearer instructions on how to reach them considering that their address clearly wasn’t correct in Google Maps and considering that there were ZERO signs on the sides of the road confirming that we were on the right path to the lodge.

“Yeah, lots of people aren’t able to navigate to us,” the lodge’s concierge told me when my call finally went through. Gee, that’s something you’d think they’d make clear on their website!

“But we’re 11 miles from Cleetwood Cove Trail.” he said.

I didn’t realize just how unhelpful the concierge’s directions were until I hung up the phone. Eleven miles which way?!

At this point, we remembered that we were given a map upon entering the park, and when we took a look at it, we realized that the lodge, and hence the trolley company, was right next to Rim Village – another 30 or so minutes up the mountain from where we were.

Feeling defeated, Jave gave the concierge one final call to see if the tour had, in fact, left us. It had.

Urgh!!!

After a few expletives, we resolved that we’d just take our sweet time and give ourselves a self-guided Crater Lake rim drive tour as opposed to taking the afternoon trolley tour. Fortunately, we hadn’t paid in advance. We also decided that we still wanted to visit the lodge since its balcony is the best place to take a coffee break and take in views of the lake.

Somehow, despite our long journey and our missed trolley drama, we still managed to enjoy Crater Lake. I mean, how couldn’t you? Just look at it…

This guy totally ignored the signs advising not to cross beyond the wall
This guy totally ignored the signs advising not to cross beyond the wall we stood behind to take this shot
Crater Lake is the second deepest lake in North America and the ninth deepest in the world
Crater Lake is the second deepest lake in North America and the ninth deepest in the world
I always thought Crater Lake was formed by a meteor, but the lake was actually formed about 7700 years ago when Mount Mazama collapsed after violent climatic eruptions
I always thought Crater Lake was formed by a meteor, but the lake was actually formed about 7700 years ago when Mount Mazama collapsed after violent climatic eruptions
The lake is sourced by rain and snow - no streams run in our out
This is Wizard Island, a volcanic cinder cone that was formed along with several other cinder cones on the caldera floor during subsequent eruptions over hundreds of years
Wizard Island is the only volcanic cinder cone to break the water's surface and it rises about 755 feet above the lake's average surface
Wizard Island is the only volcanic cinder cone to break the water’s surface and it rises about 755 feet above the lake’s average surface
Tourists can only access Wizard Island during the summer when boat tours on the lake are offered
Tourists can only access Wizard Island during the summer when boat tours on the lake are offered. Read this great blog post from Mary at The World is a Book for details about the boat tour.
Crater Lake is sourced by rain and snow - no streams run in our out
Crater Lake is sourced by rain and snow – no streams run in our out
Local Native American tribes who witnessed Mount Mazama's collapse have kept the story alive through legends
Local Native American tribes who witnessed Mount Mazama’s collapse have kept the story alive through legends
The lake is considered sacred by Native American tribes, and young men used to take solo vision quests to the lake in search of spiritual guidance for their future
The lake is considered sacred by Native American tribes, and young men used to take solo vision quests to the lake in search of spiritual guidance for their future
Well, well, well - look who showed up while we were enjoying our lake views...
Well, well, well – look who showed up while we were enjoying our lake views…
Crater Lake National Park was established on May 22, 1902, by President Theodore Roosevelt, and it's the fifth oldest national park in the country
Crater Lake National Park was established on May 22, 1902, by President Theodore Roosevelt, and it’s the fifth oldest national park in the country
While I can't vouch for a stay at the Crater Lake Lodge, a coffee break on the balcony is a must. Opened in 1915, the lodge is owned by the National Park Service and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
While I can’t vouch for a stay at the Crater Lake Lodge, a coffee break on the balcony is a must. Opened in 1915, the lodge is owned by the National Park Service and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The lesson: If taking a trolley tour, allow yourself plenty of time to reach Crater Lake Lodge. And don’t get giddy when you finally reach the entrance to the park – you still have about another half an hour or so to drive uphill towards Rim Village before you reach the lodge, so plan accordingly.

PINNABLE

crater-lake-rim-drive

Have you ever gone through a bunch of drama to catch a tour, flight, etc. only to miss it? Share your experience in the comments.

  • I have to admit that I never heard of Crater Lake NP, so that’s the reason why I did not visit (yet). It looks gorgeous so I definitely want to go there next time I’m in the area. Your photos are absolutely astounding, so beautiful !

    • Dana Carmel

      Thanks, Freya! But honestly, the lake itself is so pretty that it would be really hard to take a bad picture. I think you’d definitely appreciate a visit to Crater Lake the next time you’re in the U.S.

  • Amazing photos! I’ve never heard of this lake, but it looks gorgeous. Definitely on the must-see list if I ever make it back to the States!

    • Dana Carmel

      Thanks, Laura! Witnessing Crater Lake in person was a surreal experience. The lake is so big, so deep, and so daunting. But along with the rest of Oregon, you’re right in that it’s definitely a place to add to your U.S. travel wishlist. I hope you’ll get a chance to visit soon!

  • Mike

    Ha! I just flew over Crater Lake two weeks ago, Dana 🙂 You should see in the wintertime. It is jaw dropping 🙂

    • Dana Carmel

      I can imagine! I’d love to see it in the winter. Has it already started snowing? We were just there in early October and the fall weather was absolutely perfect!

  • Those views!!! Worth all the trouble you went through.

  • Guess Who?

    Very beautiful picture and interesting info. Good job. It makes me want to travel more!

    • Dana Carmel

      Thanks for your first ever comment, Mommy! You made my day. I’m looking forward to traveling more with you. 🙂

  • Oh wow, that is super frustrating, Dana! I’ve had a really bad flight experience…trying to fly down to the DR, Newark airport went into “security lockdown” for a few hours, so we were all stuck in whatever terminal we were currently in. By the time the lockdown lifted and we sprinted to our gate, the plane was just pulling out! So frustrating! They only fly out once a day so we ended up paying to stay at an airport hotel overnight…at least makes for a fun story though!:-)

    • Dana Carmel

      Man, that sucks! But you’re right that these types of experiences definitely keep travel interesting – I guess that’s the bright side.

  • I haven’t missed a tour but I’ve come close. This is an exceptional drive as are your photos.

    • Dana Carmel

      Thanks, Leigh. The lake is so stunning that I think it would be really hard to take a bad photo!

  • A few years ago, we were in London on holiday. We decided to visit his parents in Rome for a couple of days. My fault first time, mistook 5.00 hrs for 5 pm instead of am. We missed the flight. We had to pay full price for the next day. Accident on the way to the airport next day, and yep..we missed it again. We had to pay again for the next day…all in all, we paid almost 700 pounds!!! Thank god we weren’t staying at a hotel in London, otherwise it would be even more! These photos are gorgeous!!! I had to laugh, l never let my husband drive, he likes to look around too, and likes to look at you when talking which scares the crap out of me..lol! I would have totally stayed in the middle as well. 🙂

    • Dana Carmel

      Dang – 700 pounds?! Not fun! Lol. It just wasn’t meant for you guys to be on those flights, I suppose. When I miss out on certain things, I try to comfort myself by telling myself that it just wasn’t in the cards for me. But after all of our effort to get to Crater Lake, I was definitely disappointed to miss the tour and I didn’t really want to drive (or let Jave drive). But I think we would’ve fallen asleep during the tour anyway. 🙂 It’s funny that you wouldn’t let your hubs drive either. What is it with men and taking their eyes off the road in perilous conditions?!

  • I’m sorry you missed the trolley tour but so glad you had a beautiful and clear day to see the lake. Gorgeous photos, Dana. I can never get enough of those reflections.Your reflection shots are much more vibrant than what we captured. Thank you for the shout-out. Here’s hoping you two return during the summer to do the boat and trolley tour 🙂

    • Dana Carmel

      You’re welcome, Mary! Jave and I agreed that we probably would’ve fallen asleep during the trolley tour anyway – lol. But we’d definitely like to return for the boat tour. The lake’s reflection is incredible – it really is hard to take a bad picture of it.

  • Wow what a breath-taking crater. I have been to two craters, one in Indonesia and one in Japan but they were active and emanating a lot of smoke and we couldn’t see much of the water…. but this crater is just so beautiful!! What a lovely spot to collect one’s thoughts!

    • Dana Carmel

      I know what you mean about smoking craters – we saw a smoking crater in Nicaragua. It was amazing to see it smoking, but I would’ve loved to have seen the bottom.

  • Knock on wood, but we have not *yet* missed a connection or planned event. We are so paranoid about it, though, that we end up wasting a ton of time at the airport waiting for our flight to leave. You just can never tell how long it’ll take to go through security these days!

    Crater Lake is GORGEOUS. It’s on my U.S. bucket list for sure!

    • Dana Carmel

      Hey, it’s better to be there way ahead of time than to miss a flight and have to pay a bunch of fees. I’ve had a couple of close calls with missing flights due to connecting flights and it’s definitely not fun to have to run through several terminals in an effort to make your flight!

      You guys would love Crater Lake. I’d love to go back and spend a bit more time there and do the boat tour and take a hike the next time around.

  • What a beautiful lake and beautifully captured too! Looks so serene!

    • Dana Carmel

      Thanks, Becky!

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