History of Rim Drive, Crater Lake National Park
Route 5 — East Entrance Road
What was once one of the major approach roads in the park is now limited to connecting Kerr Notch on the East Rim Drive with the renowned “pinnacles” on Wheeler Creek. Motorists descend 5.9 miles on a two-lane asphalt road averaging 18′ in surfaced width and then have to turn around at a parking area placed for viewing the pinnacles. Visitors have the opportunity to walk another half mile on a trail from the parking area to the actual east entrance. The through route was discontinued in 1956 after traffic there had fallen to less than 4 percent of all park visitors. Much of the decline stemmed from a relocation of Highway 97 from the Sun Mountain vicinity some distance to the east in 1949. This came after the opening of two major state highways across the Cascades nine years earlier made travel through the park’s north entrance far easier than it had been previously.
The East Entrance Road runs immediately below the East Rim Drive for its first mile, with damage to the pavement evident due to falling rock from Dutton Ridge. This route is at a virtual tangent for the next 2 miles, until it reaches the road junction at Lost Creek Campground. The road closely follows Sand Creek for another mile or so, before veering south to Wheeler Creek and its pinnacles. Partial views of both stream canyons can be obtained in a few places, breaking the monotony imposed by thick stands of lodgepole pine. Once motorists turn around, they have the option of returning to Kerr Notch and rejoining Rim Drive or taking the unpaved “Grayback Road” (Route 6) west to Vidae Falls at Lost Creek Campground.