Bucket List: Crater Lake
Crater Lake National Park has always been a bucket list item and was the cap of our 14-day backpacking trip of 2019. We started in Beverly Hills at my grandparent's home, ventured to Yosemite, then further north to the Redwoods and ended at the clearest body of water in the world. After about 11 days of camping, it was difficult to sleep outside and eat dehydrated food for a couple more nights. However, once we got there, it was well worth it! Crater Lake National Park is home to the deepest lake in the United States and is 1,949 feet down at it deepest point. The caldera was formed about 7,700 years ago when volcano Mount Mazama collapsed in on itself. The temperature of the lava was so hot that it sealed the lake, allowing it to collect all of its water from snowfall and rain, as there are no rivers flowing into the lake.
Crater Lake sits in southern Oregon, about 3 1/2 hours north east of Redwood National Park, which is nothing when you have already driven 9 hours from Yosemite. We only had a few days but we set our sights high on enjoying all the highlights of the park. Upon arrival, we stopped by the visitor center, enjoyed some pizza and gift shopping. After our bellies were full on real food, we set out to complete the rim drive, which was AMAZING! The historic Rim Road takes you 33-miles around the entire length of the lake, which allows one to see the beauty from several different vantage points. If you do the rim drive right, it will take most of the day!
On day two, we decided to hike to the highest point in the park, Mount Scott. The trail is about 2.5 miles with a 1,500 feet elevation change, making it a calf burner!! The views were worth ever step as it is the only place in the park that you can see the entire lake in one camera snap shot. We met some really cool families at the top, where we enjoyed our second to last dehydrated lunch. As a reward for the hike, we spent the dinner hours in rocking chairs on the outside deck at the lodge overlooking the lake sharing stories with fellow adventurers. After dinner, we settled into out campsite, which showered us in one of the prettiest starry nights I have ever seen! Since Crater Lake is located off the beaten path, there is almost no light pollution.
On our final day, we wanted to meet the lake up close and personal through a boat tour! For only $47 a person, we got the spend the day exploring Wizard Island and learn about the interior of the lake. The only trail that provides access to the lake's water is Cleetwood Cove, which was steep one to cap off 14 days in the wild. The trial looses and gains, depending on your direction, about 700 feet, in only 1.1 miles. Once to the bottom, you and a group of explorers get to settle in for guided tour around the lake. When we got to Wizard Island, we skipped out on the ascent to the top since we were hiked out! Instead, we enjoyed a chilly dip in the crystal clear waters and ate our last dehydrated lunch (yay!). After we finished our boat tour, we elected to head out early and drive straight through the night back to my grandparent's home in Beverly Hills. The 14-hour drive through the night was brutal as we ended up on the 405 in Los Angeles' rush hour traffic. Our trip concluded with a relaxing day of amenities, including a washer/dryer, hot shower and flushable toilets.
Our 2019 trip stretched across most of the state of California and into southern Oregon. The vastness of both Yosemite and Redwood was undeniable as there is so much to see. However, Crater Lake was just as beautiful and we would visit again!! It is a must see on anyone's National Park bucket list.