Cruising into Crater Lake is the dream of more than one family on a summer road trip. It is easy to make this national park your only destination or to tack it onto a summer road trip around the Pacific Northwest. Set up camp in the park at one of the lodges or in the nearby town of Ashland, Oregon, where you will find great local flavor in the restaurants, cozy hotels across town and one heck of a Shakespeare festival each season. Before you head into the park though you need to be prepared. Fill up on gas, pack some snacks, research your hikes and decide if you want to take the plunge into the chilly lake water. Above all else, remember that this is a national park. Respect the land and the creatures in it; they lived here first.
Consider yourself warned. You do NOT want to run out of gas while driving around Crater Lake. Fill up outside of the park in Prospect (on OR-62 from Roseburg) or Chemult (on Hwy 97 from Oakridge). The Mazama Camper Store in Mazama Village offers gas only in the summer months. If a summer storm knocks out the power in the village, the gas pumps will not work.
Although the car ride around the rim is the easiest way to see the highlights of the park, families should remember that there is more to see than just the lake. Wild flowers, valley views and old growth forests are just a few of the highlights you can encounter when you hit the trails around the park.
- Castle Crest Wildflower trail: 30-45 minute moderate hike that brings you to a creek and meadow wild flowers in the summer months.
- Godfrey Glen: about a 30-minute easy walk through old growth forests, and views of Annie Creek Canyon. This path is fully accessible and a breeze with kids.
- Cleetwood Cove: This one and half-hour hike is strenuous and should not be taken on lightly. There is an eleven percent grade down, which may feel easy with the kids as you head to the lake for your boat tour, but the hike back up, especially if you have to carry toddlers, may be more than you bargained for. If it starts to rain, keep a careful eye on the trail and your footing as the path can get slick. This trail is usually accessible from July to October, depending on when the snow arrives each year.
Animal Sightings: Keep your eyes peeled for these critters that call the park home.
- Bald eagles, ravens, jays and chickadees
- Bears, elk and mule deer
- Coyotes and bobcats
- Porcupines, marmots and hares
- Squirrels and chipmunks
Volcano Boat Cruises
One of the best ways to see the lake is to hop on a boat tour. You can see the little white boats bobbing in the water from the rim. Stormy days make it an unimaginable adventure, but sunny summer days declare it a must-do activity for the whole family, that is if you are up for the hike down the Cleetwood trail to the docks. If you aren't up for a boat ride or just dont have the extra cash to spare, at least dip your toes in the water of the deepest lake in America. It will give your kids something to brag about to their friends back home.
What are some of your favorite outdoors escapes for the whole family?
Don't let delays or mishaps ruin your getaway, be sure to get the right travel insurance policy for you!