If you know me at all, you know how much I love to read. One of my favorite books is ‘Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed, and her description of Crater Lake was so beautiful and vivid that I’d been looking forward to this park for most of the trip! I could hardly wait to crest the ridge and see the lake sprawled out in front of me, though I’ll admit I was a little skeptical of whether or not it was actually as big as described.
Guess what? It is.
Seriously, it is MASSIVE. Nothing can really prepare you for it. You’re driving along this kind of desolate little plain, you come over a little ridge, and then POW! It practically hits you in the face.
Unfortunately for us, we arrived at the park shortly ahead of an enormous cloud of smoke from a nearby wildfire (which eventually swept through the park- so much of Oregon burned in 2015) and by the time we had only gone about halfway around the Rim Drive we already couldn’t see the other side of the lake through the smoke. All of my plans for beautiful Crater Lake sunset shots were foiled! We still enjoyed the experience, even if our arrival was delayed by firefighting efforts (among other thing) and prevented us from doing much hiking. We’d been on the road for almost 14 full days at that point and most of us were pretty worn out anyway- it really was a jam-packed couple of weeks.
Crater Lake was an excellent conclusion to a whirlwind trip, and I’m excited to go back when visibility is better and time is longer!
Our Crater Lake National Park “Must Do”:
The Rim Drive, of course! But a stop at Phantom Ship Island is our real “must do.” It’s so cool! We recommend driving the Rim Drive clockwise, so there is never traffic between you and the lake.
You can read our review of Mazama Campground here.