Hundreds of Wild Flowers Bloom in Natural Garden Around Crater Lake Park – September 8, 1929

Hundreds of Wild Flowers Bloom in Natural Garden Around Crater Lake Park

Oakland Tribune

Oakland, California
September 8, 1929


Here is the sixth of a series of articles by three Eastbay Boy Scouts touring National Parks of eleven western states under the sponsorship of the National Park Service and The Tribune. The Three youthful unofficial assistant naturalists were selected from all California scouts because of their high standing in the study of nature. Today’s account is by Drew Chick, of Piedmont, who with Donald Kelly, Berkeley, and Jack Edgemond, Oakland, comprise the party.


Donald Kelly told you in the last article about the geology of Crater Lake, of the wild life within the park, of the destructive work of the Mountain Pine Beetle, of the forest trees and of the beauty of Crater Lake: but that is not all there is of interest in Crater Lake National Park.

Across the road from Headquarters building and the government camp, the visitor finds a trail leading to the most beautiful natural wildflower garden that we have seen thus far in any of the parks. F. L. Wynd, a botanist from the University of Oregon, counted one hundred species of wildflower in bloom, while casually walking through the garden. Just think of the many flowers that have finished blooming for the year and those that will come up later. So you see there are other things to see in Crater Lake National Park besides the lake itself.

The trail enters the woods bordering the road and winds over a glacial moraine, along a talus slope, over another moraine, across a beautiful wet mountain meadow, up over another moraine, across a dry meadow and back to the road and headquarters. It is in the mountain meadow, between the talus slope and glacial moraine, that most of the flowers are to be found. Englemann’s aster, false green hellebore, green orchid, pink spires glandular cinquefoil, blue phacella, small-leaved beardtongue, alpine veronica, Lewis’ monkey flower, firewood, sweet white violet and others are to be found.


We made labels for the garden so that the casual tourist and the trained botanist will be equally interested in the plant from their respective viewpoints. In this way the park service is endeavoring to interest park visitors in the botanical life of the parks which they visit.

Besides making the labels for the wildflower garden we established a nature trail along the rim at the lake. Although the plants are not so abundant as they are at the wildflower garden, there are many interesting kinds. When we had finished this task we found that we had put up about fifty labels.

By Saturday, August 3, we had finished signs and labels at Crater Lake so Mt. Hall gave us the welcome news that we were to spend the whole day driving 35 miles along therim road around the lake, helping Dr. Stork take photographs.

We drove from the rim to headquarters and then to Lost Creek. A few miles past headquarters there is an area where many acres of timber have been destroyed by fire. Although the fire swept through that area several years ago there was still very little of the original forest coming back. What had been originally a beautiful forest of tall lodgepole pines, noble fire and mountain hemlock was now just an area of charred trunks. The desolation was complete. A small tree had started to grow and pine-mat, Manzanita and elderberry held sway where once was a tall and silent forest. The firewood, one of the first plants to inhabit a burned over area, was growing in profusion. It will certainly take more than a hundred years before this area will be completely restored to its original beauty. This just goes to show what a campfire may do if not extinguished or what may result from burning matches, tobacco or cigarettes if passing motorists are not careful to extinguish them before dropping them from moving cars.


Driving on the Kerr Notch, which is the lowest point on the rim of the lake, we were greeted by a most marvelous view of the lake. That part of the lake that was in the shadow of the cliff near the shore was a beautiful indigo blue and as the eye wandered from the shore to the center of the lake, the color changed to ultramarine, sky and to a still lighter blue in the distance. About two miles away, close to the shore on our left, we could see the Phantom Ship. The outline of this precipitous island is such that when it is viewed from certain angles one can see two masts, a bow and stern and on certain windy days one can almost imagine that he can see the wake of the ship trailing along behind. Away in the distance on the far side of the lake Wizard Island rears its extinct cone 761 feet above the level of the water.

As we made our way around the Rim Road our next stop was at Sentinel Rock where one gets a most comprehensive view of the lake and the crater wall. Just beyond Sentinel Rock we could see figures in coloring and shape were similar to some of those we had seen a few weeks ago in Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. This formation is red in color and has the proper name, Cottage Rocks.

We next reached Cloud Cap, the highest point on the rim which the road reaches and ate lunch at Skell’s Head, the next promontory beyond. The wind was blowing quite a gale at this point and the blue lake below was dotted there and there with white caps. Jack and Don went down the pumice slope a hundred feet or so where they were sheltered by a group of white bark pines and they had by far the best place to eat their lunch.


After lunch we drove on around the rim and through a forest in which many of the trees had been uprooted by a whirlwind that had occurred about six years ago.

We passed the top of the Wineglass, a talus slope on the crater wall which is in the shape of a wineglass when seen from an opposite point. Then we went around the back of Llao Rock. The next high point on the rim was Glacier or Hillman Peak and because the road went close to the base we decided to attempt the ascent. The peak was merely a trail of boulders over which we had to climb in order to make the ascent. About two-thirds of the way up there was quite a large snow field and Don and Jack immediately took advantage of the fact and had a snow fight. We finally gained the top and Jack and Don piled a few stones above the place where the geological survey had placed their marker so they now claim to have stood higher than anyone else on Hillman Peak. The altitude, according to the geological survey, is 8156 feet above sea level.

Directly below Hillman Peak and about a half a mile from shore is one of the lava flows from the now extinct crater on Wizard Island. Looking northward from the lake once can see the Pumice Desert and Diamond Lake. The Pumice Desert is a waste land covered with nothing but pumice. Also in this direction one can see 33,000 acres of forest that has been killed by the mountain pine beetle. On the way down we again stopped at our snow field and had a short, brisk and exciting snow battle, at the termination of which we all piled into the car and drove back to camp, tire but very much pleased that we had had the opportunity to view the lake and surrounding country from all angles.


The next Sunday we met William Gladstone Steel, the father of Crater Lake National Park and spent the rest of the day on the lake making some more photographs.

A trip on the lake is something which the visitor should not miss when taking in Crater Lake. He gets an entirely different aspect of all the familiar points, he realized the immensity of the lake and the mountain that was above it, and he has the satisfaction of having sailed inside the crater of an extinct volcano.

The next article will be written by Scout Naturalist Jack Edgemond and he will tell you of our adventures in Mount Rainier National park.