09 Vegetation

Cultural Landscape Recommendations: Park Headquarters at Munson Valley, Crater Lake National Park, Oregon


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NPS Government Camp, 1939

Mountain hemlock forest with open park-like meadows and sparse underbrush characterizes the vegetation cover of Munson Valley. These plants along with the presence of white bark pine, Shasta red fir, and noble fir are typical of the Hudsonian Life zone. Wood rush is the dominant understory; Scouler’s willow and subalpine fir are found along the creek and in low wet areas where montane meadow conditions exist.

The native plant community provided a palette for the landscape “naturalization” program of park headquarters. “Native materials were used because they were most suited to survive, not because they necessarily imitated the surrounding forest.”(4) In terms of design and composition, the planting concepts and treatments used at Rim Village were also employed at Munson Valley. Plantings were used to establish vegetation where none existed, or in disturbed areas, to fill-out planting beds for design or functional purposes.

Subalpine fir

The placement of trees and shrubs into groups was considered naturalistic not random. Plants such as Mountain hemlock and Subalpine fir were used to provide variation of texture and form, and because they did well at high elevations. Other shrubs such as honeysuckle, spirea, Scouler’s willow, and mountain ash were used to cast a sweeping appearance of boughs forming an unbroken reach of green. Near the Ranger Dormitory these materials were combined to create irregular plantings within a lawn of native grasses and sedges. Guided by landscape design principles of the period the planting design at Munson Valley included an emphasis on the placement of trees to promote their use as framing devices and as features which augment shade and shadow.

Sticky Currant

With the exception of minor changes, naturalistic planting design principles have provided the foundation for the relatively unchanged appearance of park headquarters. To accommodate efficient snow removal some plantings (among other landscape features) were removed in 1944. In 1954, planted islands in front of the middle row of employee cottages, and between the warehouse and messhall were removed. In 1958, the south entrance to the administrative complex was obliterated and planted. Landscape architects wanted to blur the distinction between “formal design” and the natural vegetation of the site. The survival of many remnant plant materials such as alpine perennials in the ellipse at the administrative complex, hint at the original planting scheme.

Plant Materials Transplanted 1933-37

Abies lasiocarpa subalpine fir
Pinus contorta lodgepole pine
Tsuga mertensiana mountain hemlock


Acer glabrum Rocky Mountain maple
Anaphalis margaritacea pearly everlasting
Aquilegia spp. columbine
Castilleja spp. Indian paintbrush
Dicentra spp. bleeding heart
Erigeron spp. fleabane
Gilia spp. gilia
Helleborus spp. hellebore
Holodiscus discolor oceanspray
Juncus rushes
Kalmia microphylla western laurel
Lonicera conjugialis purple-flower honeysuckle (twinberry)
Phlox spp. phlox
Polemonium caeruleum Jacobs ladder
Ribes erythrocarpum Crater Lake current
Salix scouleriana Scouler’s willow
Sambucus racemosa red elderberry
Sedge Sedge spp.
Sorbus sitchensis Sitka mountain ash
Spiraea densiflora subalpine spirea
Vaccinum spp. huckleberry
Arctostaphylos nevadensis pine-mat manzanita

Existing Vegetation

Abies magnifica shastensis Shasta red fir
Abies lasiocarpa subalpine fir
Pinus albicaulis whitebark pine
Pinus contorta douglasi lodgepole pine
Sorbus sitchensis Sitka mountain ash
Tsuga mertensiana mountain hemlock


Acer glabrum torr. Torrey maple (Rocky Mountain maple)
Lonicera conjugialis purple flowered honeysuckle (twinberry)
Luzula glabrata smooth woodrush
Ribes viscosissimum sticky currant
Salix scouleriana Scouler’s willow
Salix sitchensis Sitka willow
Spiraea densiflora subalpine spirea


Park Headquarters, 1941-1990