47 Appendix D – Report on Naturalization in the Rim Area

he Rustic Landscape of Rim Village, 1927-1941

 Appendix D


Crater Lake National Park

by Merel S. Sager, Assistant Park Architect.

Landscape Division,
Field Headquarters, San Francisco, Calif.
November 18, 1932


When visitors are brought into the national parks they must be transported to the points of greatest interest and they must be supplied with food, lodging, and recreation. It is obvious that certain lands, which we refer to as “developed areas”, had to come into existence. It might be said that these areas have had to be “sacrificed” in the sense that they could not be “preserved unimpaired”. Although these developed areas make up an extremely small per centage of the total park area, they are responsible for lasting impressions gained by every visitor. In too many instances, the park visitor sees only what can be viewed from these developed areas. How important it is then that we keep these areas in harmony with natural surroundings and diligently prevent the appearance of wear. although there are approximately 18 miles of Rim area at Crater Lake National Park, the term has come to refer more especially to the section from the foot of Garfield Peak to the cafeteria, a distance of about one-half mile. Every serious minded person who has the spirit of park preservation at heart regrets to see any area so intensively used by the visiting public that it becomes divested of vegetation. Only those visitors who return to the park a second time, after a period of years, notice and remark unfavorably about these changes.

The developed area in Crater Lake, known as the “Rim area”, unquestionably had the same appearance many years ago as some other unmolested areas on the Rim have today. For example, Sun Notch, although it is accessible by foot trail, is so little visited that it bears no noticeable marks of human wear. In a large measure because of this fact, Sun Notch is commonly considered the most attractive point from which to view the lake. This opinion is shared by Mr. Wirth Ryder of the University of California Fine Arts Department and Mr. Gunnar Widforss, noted National Park artist. Here we find trees in abundance along the Rim, with open areas covered with grass, sedges and wild flowers. Here, in spite of sandy soil and extreme climatic conditions, nature has seen to it that beauty flourishes. The contrast in one’s emotional reaction gained at Sun Notch as compared with one gained at the Rim area can not be adequately described. It must be experienced to be understood. It seems reasonable to believe that before the advent of the wear and tear of thousands of visitors, the Rim area was equally beautiful and inspirational.

For years, it has been the ambition of the Landscape Division to restore the area so that it will assimilate much of its original beauty and plan it so that thousands of visitors may use it without further permanent damage.

Up to 1928 parking was unrestricted. It was common practice for motorists to park their autos anywhere along the Rim, and some were parked dangerously close. The result of this practice, along with the poor, sandy condition of the soil, rendered the entire area between the road and the Rim an unattractive sand waste. The soil is composed of a high per centage of volcanic tuff, which was constantly being shifted by the wind. The fact restricts, to a great degree, the number of species of shrubs and trees which can be expected to grow. This elevation is also conducive to certain extremes in weather and climate, which are a constant hindrance to abundant plant growth. Even after the restriction of auto parking, the condition of the soil and the fact that no cross walks were there to guide pedestrian traffic, this area has not and could not of its own accord again become covered with vegetation.


In the summer of 1930 some naturalization was done between the head of the Lake Trail and the plaza. The soil was first made ready by removing one foot of the sand and replacing it with good soil and peat moss. Where trees and shrubs were planted, the soil, of course, was prepared deeper. During this first year several methods of ground cover planting were tried. One area was raked fine and sowed in the fall with seeds of native wild flowers and grass. Another area was similarly prepared and planted in the spring. In the latter case Kentucky bluegrass seed was mixed with the native seeds. The fall sowing resulted in an abundance of high, straggly grass, not entirely satisfactory in appearance, since there was no variety in size or kind. The spring sowing gave a more pleasing effect. Many kinds of grass became established, including the Kentucky bluegrass, as well as a variety of flowers. The Kentucky bluegrass, however, became quite bunchy.

Other portions were sodded, and after observation it appeared that this method was the most effective in that the final appearance could be controlled. Much of the sod was composed of several native sedges, which, of course, are grass-like in appearance, but tougher, and capable of withstanding considerable tramping.

The shape of the area to be naturalized was long and narrow. It was decided to keep the view across the area reasonably free from obstruction. Trees were planted in small groups occasionally to lend variety, and not in great enough numbers to cause and obstruction to the view of the lake from the road. The trees planted were the mountain hemlock, Tsuga mertensiana and several kinds of firs, Abies concolor, Abies nobilis and Abies lasiocarpa.

<< previousnext >>