When I told people I had never been to Crater Lake, I’d often get the answer, “Really?? But you’re from here, right?” Yes, I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest and for 21 years, had never seen Crater Lake. I decided that I would change that this month, so I got a day off work, booked a hotel, and went to Crater Lake with my family!
We entered the park through the North Entrance and then drove the entire Rim Drive. The entire Rim is only open until late October, so I think we made it just in time. However, the Lodge closed 6 days ago, so we did just miss that. Some highlights of the Rim Drive were the Pinnacles, the Rim Village, the Phantom Ship, and the Pumice Castle.
Right now, the Rim Village is the only place to get food at the Lake so it was a little busy. There were good views and some exhibits about the Lake’s history inside the cafe. There is also a gift shop and visitors’ center at the park headquarters that plays a 22-minute movie about the park. The headquarters is also the trailhead for the Lady of the Woods hike, one of the few hikes in the park that allows dogs.
One of my favorite stops was the Pinnacles. They are stalagmite-like rock formations. Thousands of years ago, lava and debris from a volcano eruption flowed through this area and steam from the bottom of the lava flow escaped up to the top, hardening the rocks that it flowed through. Over time, the soft rock eroded and left the hardened steam vents, creating the Pinnacles.
On another note, the Woodsman Country Lodge in Crescent, Oregon is a lovely place to stay. There aren’t many hotels close to Crater Lake besides the lodge that is in the park and Crescent is only an hour away. The Woodsman Country Lodge is super cute and woodsy, a great price, clean, dog-friendly and the staff is very nice and helpful. It is right next to the Mohawk Restaurant, home to great comfort food and an amazing taxidermy collection.
On the drive back to Portland, we stopped at the High Desert Museum in Bend. I love museums and this one did not disappoint. Not only are there traditional museum exhibits about Native Americans, pioneers, and nature, there are live animals that represent the wildlife found in the High Desert. I am often skeptical of zoos and worry about the animals, but all the animals in this museum were rescued and could not survive in the wild due to injuries. I saw river otters, a bobcat, porcupines, owls, eagles, a tarantula, and a rattlesnake!! Isn’t it amazing that all these animals live here in Oregon?!
- Woodsman Country Lodge in Crescent is a great place to stay, and right next to Mohawk Restaurant.
- The Rim Drive is an awesome way to see the whole park and has several stops for views along the way.
- Some must-see stops: The Pinnacles, Phantom Ship, and the Pumice Castle
- Absolutely beautiful lake and high desert scenery
- Most viewpoints have information about the science and history of the Lake
- The Rim Drive is great for people who cannot hike
- Lots of options for hiking if you do not have dogs
- Very few hikes allow dogs
- Few places to stay close to Crater Lake
- When the Lodge is closed, food is only available at the Rim Village