Keep Rim Drive open – all of the way
Herald and News
Klamath Falls, Oregon
July 31, 2002
When it comes to historic structures, Crater Lake’s Rim Drive ranks with some of the best. True, we don’t often think of roads as structures, but they are, and they are some of the most important.
The 33-mile Rim Drive around Crater Lake’s caldera is 84 years old, which is only three years younger than the lodge, and 16 years younger than the park itself.
It’s also unique. We don’t know of any other roads that circle an extinct volcano, giving motorists a chance to stare down at the United States’ deepest, bluest lake on one side and out over the Cascade Mountains on the other. During the winter, it’s shrouded in hundreds of inches of snow.
The road allows people who otherwise couldn’t do so to get to some of the most scenic spots in the nation. Thus any park management option that closes a significant part of Rim Drive should be a non-starter. Four alternatives have been presented for future park management including one, Alternative 4, that would close a big chunk of the road to motorists and add a lot of hiking for those who want to climb Mt. Scott.
Under Alternative 4, about 13 miles of Rim Drive between Cleetwood Cove and the Phantom Ship Overlook would be limited to bicyclists and hikers. It’s one of four options being presented to the public that range from no change in Option 1, varying degrees of change in options 2 and 3, to option 4’s hostility to park visitors.
Rim Drive has its place in the history of the park. Not too many years ago, Crater Lake Lodge was closed and in danger of being torn down. Public outcry — and $15 million — saved it. Rim Drive is easily as important. Keep it open — not just in part, but all of the way around the lake.