Road Trip Day 8 – Crater Lake

Originally my plan had been to drive a little bit back south again from Crescent City for a day of hiking at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park with a visit to Gold Bluffs Beach and Fern Canyon, but since we had gotten a good fix of redwood forests already on day four, day six and day seven we spontaneously decided to go further north and inland, into Oregon, and more precisely to Crater Lake National Park.

After a brief visit to the picturesquely located Battery Point Lighthouse at Crescent City, we only continued briefly on Highway 101 before turning east and inland onto Highway 199, which first led us through Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park and then along Smith River. It was quite an enjoyable drive. Since we had some leftovers from last night’s dinner, we didn’t really bother finding a place to have lunch and utilized the time for driving instead.

At Grants Pass, Oregon we briefly entered Interstate 5 but left it for Highway 234 soon, to then merge with Highway 62, which more or less follows Rogue River before it swings east towards the southern entrance to Crater Lake National Park (via Munson Valley Road). We got there in the early afternoon.

Once we reached Rim Drive, we were awe-struck by the blue of the lake – it’s really unbelievable, such a beauty! We completed circling Crater Lake on the Rim Drive and made numerous stops for photos and short walks to vista points. Once we were back at Rim Village, we had the spontaneous idea to stay over night and maybe take in both sunset and sunrise at Crater Lake, but the only place that offered lodging was, somewhat unsurprisingly, completely booked. We had a simple dinner at Rim Village (there’s really not much there…) and then drove to the Watchman Overlook again and hiked up to Watchman Peak for sunset.

At the top of Watchman Peak is an old fire lookout and a visitor platform that offers marvelous views over Crater Lake and the surround hills and forests. Looking towards the lake, the sun was setting behind us, illuminating the steep walls on the eastern rim of the crater (Grotto Cove, Cloudcap Bay, Danger Bay) with warm evening light. We stayed way past sunset and enjoyed the fading light with a couple of others – it was pretty cold and windy up there! We were well prepared but some others folks wore only shorts and a t-shirt. At an elevation of about 2400m (8000ft) and for a sunset in September, that was quite, erm, shall we say daring? 🙂

As the light faded we made our descend back to the parking lot and drove to Klamath Falls where we easily found accomodation for the night.

Here are some impressions: