Crater Lake

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!


Wizard Island is actually another volcano that formed after the eruption of Mt. Mazama, which created Crater Lake.

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.


The Phantom Ship is an island that looks just like a ghost ship.

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.


The Pinnacles

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.

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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?!

Quick Facts

  • 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

Cape Falcon

Finally, I went on a hike without a waterfall!  I actually found Cape Falcon by googling “hikes near Cannon Beach” and choosing a moderately difficult one.  It was my dog Kiki’s first time at the ocean and her first real hike with me so I didn’t want to start her out on something too difficult.


Absolutely beautiful trail reminded me of the Olympic National Rainforest with all the ferns.

About a mile in to the trail is a fork in which the left path goes down to the campground and a beach.  The right path continues for another mile and a half to Cape Falcon.  On the way up I decided to head to the Cape first and catch the beach on the way back.  I saw a group of about 20 people on a mushroom picking guided hike, which was pretty cool.  I don’t think I would trust myself to identify which mushrooms are safe to eat, but I think it would be fun to pick mushrooms on a hike!


First view of Neahkahnie Mountain from the trail.

It is about 2.5 miles to Cape Falcon and maybe 500 feet elevation gain, but starts to get EXTREMELY muddy halfway through.  Most of the trail is exposed tree roots with mud puddles in between, which would be fine if I had worn waterproof shoes (I just wore my Nikes), but for a 7 pound Maltese, each tree root was an obstacle for her to jump over.  She also hates getting her paws wet or muddy (I know she’s a spoiled princess) so we went pretty slow for most of the trail.

Cape Falcon has great views of Neahkahnie Mountain and the Pacific Ocean waves crashing against the cliffs.  You can sit and have a snack and walk around to get different ocean views in all directions.


This is facing the direction opposite of Neahkahnie Mountain.  Views all around!!

On the way back down, I decided to take the route to beach access because Kiki had never seen the beach before.  It is a little over a quarter mile to the beach from the sign on the trail.  It was not a crowded beach because I don’t think many people know about it.  There is also a campground right by the beach that I’d love to stay at one day.  I have never been beach camping but it sounds lovely to sleep listening to the ocean.  I did not spend much time at the beach because it turns out my silly dog hates water and would not even walk in the wet sand…


Some surfers at the beach, but otherwise quite private and not crowded.

Quick Facts

  • ~5 miles round trip, ~1000 feet elevation gain total
  • Beach access
  • Good parking, no pass needed


  • Not too crowded
  • Quiet, lesser known beach
  • Beautiful rainforest-like scenery with views of the ocean


  • Extremely muddy, uneven trail