History of Rim Drive, Crater Lake National Park
All three service roads at this site extend from the main roadway that links Crater Lake Lodge with a cafeteria and plaza. The Rim Cabin road (Route 10) runs for one-fifth of a mile, beginning west of the cafeteria and going behind that structure to a point down slope of the plaza. A sinuous network of roads in the former Rim Campground (Route 11) allow for vehicle circulation through what is currently a picnic area. Another road approximately 800′ in length provides employees with access to the concessionaire’s dormitory, a building erected in 1973.
The concessionaire funded the construction of twelve cabins clustered behind the cafeteria in 1931, each being located along the outer edge of an unsurfaced road loop. Twelve additional cabins were built slightly further east of the first group over the ensuing decade, thus necessitating extension of the road to a point below, but not connected with, the plaza. With removal of the cabins in 1985, most vehicle traffic on this service road went to a loading dock located at the rear of the cafeteria.
A parking area on East Rim Drive above Grotto Cove.
Formalizing the Rim Campground with a defined set of roads and designated sites began in 1933, as a way to control impacts in the face of heavy use. CCC enrollees planted shrubs to screen sites, installed picnic tables and fireplaces, and partially buried logs in order to define parking spurs. Driving on unsurfaced roads created dust, so the NPS preferred using oil as a palliative rather than crushed stone surfacing, given higher costs and noise associated with the latter. Increases in visitation and the popularity of camping, even during the Depression, generated a need to expand the campground, so the NPS responded by adding a new road loop south of the existing one in 1934. Aside from providing more campsites, the new loop had enough room for an “open air theater,” one where interpretive programs could be held on summer evenings.
The theater never materialized, but more expansion along with reconstruction of the campground came during the summer of 1957. The contracted portion of this Mission 66 project consisted of clearing and grubbing for new road construction, building new subgrades with a crushed stone base, then paving with asphalt. Obliteration of several old road sections and restoration of construction scars continued on a day labor basis for the next two seasons, in conjunction with setting barrier rocks to define fifty-five campsites. In addition to a paved surface at least 12′ wide that extended over nine-tenths of a mile through the campground, the project brought about a new entrance road from the main roadway through Rim Village, one wide enough to allow two way traffic. The need for a more spacious entrance, as well as several wider arterial roads, became moot in the summer of 1975 when the NPS discontinued overnight camping at Rim Village in favor of a picnic area that received only a small fraction of previous visitor use.
A service road leading to the concessionaire’s dormitory overtopped a portion of the road built by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1914. Located just east of the Rim Campground and at the outer edge of a broad pumice field south of Crater Lake Lodge, this service road leads to an employee parking lot situated adjacent to the dormitory. After burial of electrical, water and sewer lines underneath the old roadbed to serve the dormitory, the road was paved to a width of 14′ as part of construction activities taking place over the summer and fall of 1973.