(AP-Crater Lake, OR – Visitors demonstrating approved park transportation under new “no vehicle” policy. Photo courtesy NPS)
Citing a massive increase in visitation over the past two years that has resulted in significant crowding and near gridlock conditions in the summer, the National Park Service announced plans today to ban cars from Crater Lake National Park beginning in 2020. A doubling of visitation from 400,000 to 800,000 has left roadways jammed, parking lots gridlocked and entrance stations at a near standstill during the peak summer season. According to park spokeswoman Emma Jo King the park will build two massive parking lots near both the north and south entrances capable of holding several thousand cars each. King said visitors will then be asked to hike, bike or use rental Segways to traverse the 90 miles of park roads and 33 mile Rim Drive. Recognizing that some visitors may be fatigued once reaching the 7000 foot elevation of the caldera, the park plans to install “people movers,” similar to those in airports at the most popular vantage points like the Watchman Overlook, Cleetwood Cove and Garfield Peak. “We had to do something to relieve the pressure” noted the park superintendent. “If off-season visitation shows the same trend over the next few years, similar measures will have to be enacted in winter, but using skis, snowshoes and dogsleds.”
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