At Crater Lake even ordinary years are pretty sensational
Herald and News
Klamath Falls, OR
July 07, 2003
By LEE JUILLERAT
It’s back to normal at Crater Lake National Park.
After celebrating its 100th year as a national park in 2002, the nation’s sixth-oldest park is back to normal operations this year.
Normal at Crater Lake, however, is extraordinary.
The lake is a world-renowned wonder. It was created about 7,700 years ago by the explosion of Mount Mazama, a Cascades peak that geologists estimate was about 13,000 feet high.
After the explosions, the remaining caldera gradually filled with water, eventually reaching a point where the combination of direct snow and rainfall and seepage equaled the amount of water lost to evaporation. With a maximum depth of 1,932 feet, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States and seventh-deepest in the world. Research also indicates it may also be the world’s clearest lake.
Located high atop the Cascades, the park receives 533 inches of snow in a typical winter. While that total wasn’t reached this season, more than 400 inches was measured, including a healthy dose of snow in March and April.
All that snow means the opening of park roads, concession services, campgrounds and trails will happen gradually. The Rim Village cafeteria-gift shop is open year-round, but other facilities, including Crater Lake Lodge, the Mazama Village store/gas station/showers/motel, along with boat tours, two campgrounds and Rim Village displays and buildings, will open as the snow clears.
Park crews try to open the section of Rim Drive between Rim Village and the North Entrance by early June.
Later in the summer, as the park emerges from its thick snow blanket, a full range of park services will be offered. Popular activities include concession lake boat tours at Cleetwood Cove, ranger-led nature hikes and evening talks, and drives around the 33-mile long Rim Drive.
Three renovated Rim Village buildings that reopened last summer will offer some pleasant diversions for visitors, including the Rim Village Visitor Center, Sinnott Memorial and Community Building.
The visitor center is normally open from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily once the snow clears. Crater Lake interpretive talks will be given daily at the Sinnott Memorial, which is just a short walk from the visitor center. Featured at the Sinnott is a new informative $500,000 exhibit that features interactive programs. The community building will be used for various displays and activities.
Beginning in June, ranger-led hikes will be offered at 2 p.m. daily to Labor Day. Ask at a visitor contact station for details. Hikes vary daily but include Garfield Peak, Discovery Point and Annie Creek. Youths 6 to 12 can participate in the Junior Ranger Program. Park rangers will give 45-minute programs at 5 p.m. daily at the Mazama Campground Amphitheater through late-August. Evening campfire programs will be offered at Mazama Campground at 9 p.m. through July 31, when they will begin at 8:30 p.m.
A full range of concession services will be offered, including the Rim Village cafe and gift shop, which is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Crater Lake Lodge, with its 71 rooms, is scheduled to open May 20. The Mazama Village store and gas station and the 40-room Mazama Motor Inn, located near the park’s South Entrance, will open as soon as snow clears.
Reservations for Crater Lake Lodge and the Mazama Motor Inn can be made by calling (541) 830-8700 or 594-2211.
Crater Lake boat tours, with a park naturalist, will be offered seven times a day, weather permitting, beginning some time in July.
The usual opening date is being set back because the existing fleet of boats will be replaced by an entirely new stock of environmentally more friendly boats. A large helicopter will be used to ferry new boats from the rim to the lake, and then fly old boats back up to the rim.
Once the boats are in place, visitors will find the drive from Rim Village to Cleetwood Cove and the 1.1-mile hike to the boat dock takes about an hour. Tours last about two hours.
Once the snow clears, camping will be available at Mazama Campground, which has 198 tent and RV sites, or the less-developed Lost Creek Campground.
For more information about park conditions, including roads and available programs and services, call the park at 594-3100 or visit the park’s Web site at www.nps.gov/crla/home.htm.