Viewing Oregon’s Crater Lake on skis and snowshoes
Another flurry of wind-driven snow whistled past us as we skied along the Rim Trail above mist-shrouded Crater Lake. Then the wind shifted, the curtain of clouds parted, and below us spread the scene we’d waited to see. Wizard Island’s snowy prominence thrust boldly from the azure caldera, then disappeared again behind a veil of blowing snow.
For February visitors to southwest Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park, views of the spectacular landscape are often rationed this way–random yet breath-taking glimpses scattered through a stormy winter’s day.
You needn’t be a polar bear to enjoy the winter beauty–anyone who’s properly dressed can. Despite snowfall averaging some 50 feet annually and a 7,100-foot elevation at Rim Village, winter day temperatures fall into a relatively mild range of 20 [deg.] to 40 [deg.] with nights 15 [deg.] to 25 [deg.].
If you’d like to try snowshoeing, join one of the ranger-led walks that never wander more than a few hundred yards from the visitor center.
Try ski touring, on your own or with a guide, on ungroomed trails from a few miles long to the 34-mile Rim Trail loop. Or bring inner tubes, snow platters, or a toboggan for a day of snow play.
Experienced winter campers have 286 square miles in which to pitch their tents. Pick up a free camping permit at park headquarters on the drive in, and be sure to check snow and weather conditions.
Simple meals and some groceries are available daily 9 to 4 in the cafeteria at Rim Village. Lodging: you’ll have to leave the park.
Crater Lake Lodge is closed in winter. There’s limited lodging in the communities of Union Creek (about 2o miles west of Rim Village via State 62) and Fort Klamath (25 miles south via State 62). Expect to pay $20 and up for a double room or rustic cabin; you’ll need reservations. For details, write to Crater Lake National Park, Box 7, Crater Lake 97604, or call (503) 594-2211.
Or consider lodging in the cities of Medford, about 80 miles southwest via State 62, or Klamath Falls, some 60 miles southeast via State 62 and U.S. 97. Getting there:
From State 62, use the Annie Spring entrance, following signs 4 miles to park headquarters, then another 3 miles to Rim Village. The park’s north entry road is closed in winter, as is Rim Drive.
Motorist are required to carry traction devices at all times. be forewarned: the road beyond headquarters can be closed by heavy snow. For weather and road conditions, call (503) 772-7669 any time, or the park between 8 and 5.
The focus of winter recreation in the park is Crater Lake Ski Service, relocated this season in the Rim Village Visitor Center overlooking the lake. The shop is open 9 to 5 Fridays through Mondays and holidays (by appointment only Tuesdays through Thursdays).
You can take a 2-hour instructional ski tour or a 1-1/2-hour group ski lesson, both at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.; either costs $7.50; with the all-day ski rental cost is $12 for adults, $9 for children 12 and under. Reservations are required. Private lessons run $9 an hour.
Three-hour afternoon ski tours cost $6, all-day tours $12 (minimum of three persons); with ski rental, prices are $12 and $18. Bring your own lunch. Overnight snow camping tours (minimum of 6, maximum of 12 persons) cost $45, including meals. A three-day “around the rim” tour is $45 just for the guide service (meals not included). Bring your own snow camping equipment and skis or rent skis there.
Ski rentals, including boots and poles, are $8 for adults all day, $6 for the afternoon, $2 an hour; for children 12 and under, they’re $5.50, $3.50, and $1.20. Ski accessories and repairs are available. Snowshoes rent for $5 a day, $1 an hour.
The ski shop also sponsors winter safety and orienteering clinics, free ski classes for seniors, and racces. For information or reservations (required for all tours), write or call Crater Lake Ski Service, Crater Lake 97604; (503) 594-2361.
Free snowshoe walks led by park rangers start from the visitor center every Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. The easy 1-mile nature walks take about 1-1/2 hours. Besides warm clothing, hat, and gloves, you need sturdy waterproof boots; no children under 10 are permitted.
COPYRIGHT 1984 Sunset Publishing Corp.
COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group
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