Social Impacts of Design Alternatives, Crater Lake National Park


The General Management Plan for Crater Lake National Park considers some extensive changes in Mazama Campground. Among these are 52 new sites, two new comfort stations, road reconstruction, a concessioner-operated camper services building (i.e. store), and shower and laundry facilities. The addition of these facilities could alter the experience of the campground visitor.

In order to determine present use patterns and assess the need for new facilities, interviews were conducted with campers during the summer of 1979. All the even numbered campsites were sampled one night, the odd ones the next. A total of 307 groups were interviewed over a seven day period.

The first question asked was “How many days do you plan to stay in the campground?” The average stay for those interviewed was just under two days. Forty-six percent stayed one night, 37% two nights, and only 17% stayed three or more nights.

Campers were also asked “Have you made, or do you plan to make, a special trip to Rim Village for the sole purpose of buying groceries?” Most had either come well supplied or purchased their supplies on the way to another point within the park. Many also expressed dissatisfaction with the selection of supplies they found at Rim Village. The most common desire was for perishable items that they could not stock outside the park (specifically fruits and vegetables), and a reliable source of milk and eggs (there were some temporary outages of milk and eggs during this period). In all 14% of the campers said they had made a special trip to Rim Village for groceries. Considering that the average stay is approximately 2 days, this would indicate about 7% or 14 cars per day (if the campground was full) make trips to Rim Village.

Campers were also asked whether they made or planned to make a trip to Rim Village for the sole purpose of buying ice. About 6% said they made a trip for ice, but most of these were to the Munson Valley service station. Another 6% said they got ice at the same time they bought groceries.

We also asked “Do you plan to attend tonight’s campfire program?” Most (71%) said yes. Many of the others said they had already been to campfire programs or were planning to go to the lodge program. It appears that campfire programs are well-attended.


At 1979 use levels* about 22% of the visitors have the opportunity to stay at Mazama campground. The addition of 52 campsites would raise this to about 28%. Shower and laundry facilities are not currently available within the park, and this may help limit the number of nights most visitors will stay. The addition of shower and laundry facilities could increase the number of nights people stay in the campground, thereby reducing the percentage of visitors who have the opportunity to camp. At present most visitors stay only one or two nights. If the Park Service wants to encourage people to stay longer, shower and laundry facilities may help accomplish this goal.

The justification for a concessioner-operated camper services building is that it “should aid in relieving congestion since campers will no longer have to drive to Rim Village to obtain supplies” (General Management Plan, p. 111-c-8). Data presented here suggest that very few campers (about 14 cars per day) make special trips to Rim Village for supplies. During the 1977 study at Rim Village,

*Average use in 1979 was 2829 people entering the park per day, for the 92 day season from June 1 through August 31. This was a 33% drop from the 1978 figure of 4250 people per day. It is assumed throughout this report that figures would be proportionately higher in a “normal” year.

10% of the cars drove through Rim Village without stopping (an average in excess of 100 cars per day). Combined with the knowledge that the most asked question in Rim Village was “How do I find Rim Drive?” this suggests that better signing and orientation outside of Rim Village might do more to reduce congestion than a camper services store in Mazama campground.


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