Monday, November 16, 2020

High Times at a Deep Lake: Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

(Please read our Covid 19 Statement first - Ed) 

NOTE: As this is going live on November 16, 2020, the governor of Oregon has imposed a new lockdown of at least two weeks. 

The highlight of this trip to Southern Oregon is on tap for today. At least we hope it is.

We already delayed this trip by a week because of extremely heavy smoke. Although it rained a couple of days, the fires are still burning. We're heading to Crater Lake but hoping we'll be able to see it once we get there.

Our worries are for naught, however, as this is the first truly clear day in weeks.

It's a two hour drive from our hotel in Grants Pass to the edge of the lake. Although it climbs up 7,000 feet, it's an easy drive with little traffic and lots of long stretches of straight road. Unfortunately, there's no public transportation up to the park, so you'll need your own car to get there.

We flash our Access Pass at the entrance and cruise on in, saving a nice thirty dollars on the entrance fee (make sure you get an Access Pass if you's free and gets you into our National Parks for free. You can get one at the entrance station at most National Parks. They're good for life. Click on the link for more information - Ed)

Our destination is the Rim Village Visitor's Center on the south edge of the lake. There is a large lodge here with a cafeteria, gift shop, and restrooms. If there's no parking, continue east through the parking lot to the road that continues and you'll find more parking.

We wander over to the rim and are just blown away by the view. Bright blue skies and a very glassy, deep blue lake that reflected everything like a mirror.

Crater Lake, at almost 2,000 feet deep, is the deepest lake in the United States. There is no wind rippling the water, no boats creating wakes, and it is just breathtaking.

After enjoying the view, we head back over to the gift shop, pick up a few souvenirs, and buy some lunch. Covid 19 has eliminated any tables to sit at so we head back over to the rim, sit on the wall, and have a picnic with quite a view.

It's nice to get these views but we'd like a more inclusive, all-encompassing experience. Before we came up, I checked the park's website for accessible features and found there were a few accessible trails. We decide on the Sun Notch Trail because it's not too long and would allow us to do it without taking a lot of time from our day.

It's about a 20 mile drive from the visitor center to the trailhead. Blink and you'll miss it so pay attention. The trail is hard-pack but smooth dirt. There is some elevation to it. A good power chair should have no problem, manual users need to be strong or have a strong pusher available.

It's a nice trail that leads up to an overhead view of the Phantom Ship, a small island just offshore. Keep going and the views only get better.

Here is the view of the Phantom Ship.

Here is a view across the lake to Diamond Peak, way in the distance.

There is a spot, maybe 10 feet long, that goes along an exposed cliff so be very careful on that spot. If you only go to the first viewpoint, you won't go by that part so you can stop your hike there and return to the parking lot if it bothers you.

It's a very nice hike, just right for exercise and scenery. My phone's pedometer says we did 2 miles when we get back to the car.

On the way up, I saw a sign for the Rogue River Gorge. It sounded neat so on the way down, I make sure we stop.

The Rogue River rushes down from springs on the side of the mountain that contains Crater Lake. It has scoured a small section of rock and forms some spectacular cataracts. Viewing platforms get you very close to the rushing waters.

The paved, accessible trails takes you along a quarter mile of this narrow gorge and to four view points. It's quite a sight to see that rush of water going through. According to an sign at the site, enough water to fill an Olympic sized pool goes through every second.

Back in Grants Pass, this same river placidly and widely flows by our hotel room.

One more stop on the way down, Phil's Frosty in Shady Cove. It's sunny, clear and warm so some ice cream is in order. I get a cone of soft serve while Tim and Letty share a bowl of regular ice cream. It's delicious.

After that day, we're a bit tuckered out so we just relax in our room, enjoying some drinks on our balcony, watching the river flow by.

Darryl Musick
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