Social Impacts of Design Alternatives, Crater Lake National Park

It appears that visitors are not evenly dispersed throughout the park. What roads get the most traffic, and which facilities are the most heavily used? To answer these questions we observed traffic at all the junctions along Rim Drive. Data were collected for half-hour intervals, one interval for each hour of the day. For each junction we determined what percentage of cars arriving there went in each possible direction.

Traffic counts confirm that Rim Village is a center of visitor activity. About 60% of all visitors enter Crater Lake National Park through the Annie Springs entrance station, and for them Rim Village is the first opportunity to view the lake. Observations show that 90% of the traffic from the south enters Rim Village. The 40% of visitors who enter through the North Entrance have many opportunities to view the lake before reaching Rim Village; of this group 74% enter Rim Village (see Figure 16).

At North Junction the road from the North Entrance meets Rim Drive. Most visitors (76%) entering from the north turn south towards Rim Village, probably because it looks as if the “main” road goes that way, signs point this out as the way to Rim Village, and that direction offers the first views of the lake. The unmarked pull out just south of North Junction is the first place where visitors entering from the north can see the lake, and because of this almost two thirds (64%) stop here. Only 10% of visitors coming from Rim Village stop at this overlook (see Figure 17).

Figure 16.  Rim Village Junction.


Observations at Cleetwood Cove provide information about the percentage of visitors who actually hike to the lake and about the percentage of visitors who use Rim Drive. Of those who make it to Cleetwood Cove, 63% go directly onto the one-way portion of Rim Drive. Of the 37% who stop at the parking area, 52% return to North Junction and 48% turn onto the one-way portion of Rim Drive when they leave (see Figure 18).

Continuing on the one-way portion of Rim Drive, 66% of the cars turn off at the spur road to Cloud Cap view point (see Figure 19). There seems to be some confusion here because the observer was asked several times if the road returned to the two-way portion of Rim Drive. A “Dead End” sign might eliminate this problem.

After Cloud Cap the next possible turn off is the road to Lost Creek Campground, Grayback Motor Nature Road, and the Pinnacles. At this junction 36% of the visitors choose the road to the Pinnacles while the other 64% continue on around Rim Drive (see Figure 20). Of the visitors using this road 89% visit the Pinnacles, 26% use the Motor Nature Road, and 6% stop at Lost Creek Campground (see Figure 21).


By combining observations at different locations we can estimate the percentage of visitors using different roads and facilities in the park. Readers should keep in mind that these are rough approximations which show the relative amount of use in different areas. They assume that all visitors entering the park get at least as far as Rim Village or North Junction.

Figure 17. North Junction.


Figure 18. Cleetwood Cove


Figure 19. Cloud Cap.