‘Leisurely’ viewing envisioned at rim
December 10, 1997
By MARK FREEMAN
The Crater Lake rim area will lose some of its commercial look in favor of a distinctly 1930s appeal in time for the 21st century under a $15 million proposal to make Oregon’s only national park more visitor-friendly.
Moving the main parking lot away from the rim, restoring the cafeteria to its pre-Depression appearance and replanting the historic rim landscape highlight changes proposed for Crater Lake National Park.
The National Park Service also proposes to cut boat tours by a quarter and shift commercial visitor services away from the caldera rim to the Mazama Village area to reduce congestion at the rim.
These and other plans are detailed in the park service’s new Draft Visitor Services Plan released Tuesday for public comment.
The plan, which also contains a draft environmental study, focuses on making the experience of seeing Crater Lake as pristine as its water — without having tour buses and minivans parked right along the rim.
“Instead of what you see there now, with the vehicles, and pedestrians trying to dodge the vehicles, you’ll have a leisurely, pedestrian-friendly environment,” said John Miele, a park service official working on the project. “Our goal is to re-create the design landscape that was originally put in in the 1930s.”
If plans get favorable public review and get adopted on schedule next year, construction could begin in 1999 and be done by 2003, Miele said.
The estimated price tag is $15 million, with $10 million in federal money, Miele said. The remaining $5 million would come from the private company that lands the new concessionaire contract now up for Crater Lake.
The so-called Draft Visitor Services Plan/Environmental Impact Statement will be available for review this week at the main public libraries in Jackson and Josephine counties.
Written comments on the draft will be taken through Jan. 26.
The park service is approaching these changes with increased educational and interpretive opportunities in mind, but also with the intent of moving many of the commercial aspects now along the rim down to Mazama Village.
A new visitor station would be built near the rim to provide information, interpretation and year-round views of the lake.
The 440-space parking lot that now abuts the rim would be removed and placed behind the cafeteria, Miele said.
The area would be replanted with natural vegetation, with walkways to the rim, he said.
The village would be the home of a new restaurant and gift shop. The existing gift shop would shrink by more than a third.
The restaurant and gift store would be built by the new concessionaire, which would manage it like the current facilities are managed.
The new, smaller cafeteria would be rebuilt near the rim to look like the original cafeteria of 1928, but it would contain deli and fast-food services.
Boat tours at Cleetwood Cove would be reduced from nine hours to seven hours per day. New trailhead, parking and dock facilities would also be built.
The Crater Lake Lodge would retain its restaurant and overnight rooms for summer use.