Over the last year, and since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the world has taken many drastic changes which has severely impacted the way of life for everyone on the planet.
One such aspect of life that has been detrimentally impacted by the pandemic has been travel. Never in most of our lifetimes have we seen such a strong reaction from governments all over the world. The toll it has taken to the travel industry alone has been quite a disaster to say the least.
With these changes (hopefully they are just temporary), it has changed the focus of many American's style of travel. With few to no options of overseas travel, the American traveler has begun to focus their sights on some of the great places we have in our own 'backyard'.
While I'm positive these destinations have always been an interest, it seems that over the last year alone, visitors have been flocking to the national parks of the nation in immense numbers. This can be both a good and bad thing.
It is great because more people are beginning to get out and explore natural wonders of the country, but it can also be viewed negatively as these parks are now overly crowded with tourists, and some of them aren't capable of successfully taking in so many visitors without causing damage to the infrastructure of the park.
There is always going to be good and bad with any circumstance though. It is something the National Park System may need to re-evaluate and reconsider going forth from the pandemic.
Crater Lake National Park
While considering this new change in travel circumstances due to the pandemic, in 2020, I decided to do my best to still go out and adventure. It would just require attempting to be as responsible as possible when it came to pandemic standards.
Sorry not Sorry that I'm not going to wear a mask while walking out in nature when there is plenty of space between myself and another person....
One destination, and one of my favorite destinations in the United States that I decided to revisit was Crater Lake National Park. I had once been to Crater Lake National Park back in 2015, and it left such a lasting impression that I had to go once more to explore.
I sometimes think that a lot of people have never really heard of Crater Lake. I have brought it up in conversation before on multiple occasions and the reaction seems to be, "What is Crater Lake?".
So what is Crater Lake?
Crater Lake was once an ancient volcano (Mount Mazama) located in southern Oregon that collapsed in on itself during an ancient eruption. The volcano is currently considered dormant, though the signs of an ancient volcano are still very much present.
Crater Lake is also the deepest lake in the United States coming in at 1943 feet deep. Aside from that cool fact, it is the 9th deepest lake in the world!
In addition, this lake has no water sources such as rivers or other lakes feeding its depths. It solely receives its water supply by rain and snow every year. It is considered one of the snowiest places in the country as well, receiving an average of around 40 feet of snow per year.
Crater Lake is a pretty unique sight to see, and a location that you will not find something similar to anywhere else in the United States, or much of the world. The natural blue color of the water along with the signature islands (Wizard and Phantom Ship) are easily recognizable sights in any landscape photos. I would think that everyone should see Crater Lake at some point in their life. The beauty is unmatched.
For more information and history on Crater Lake, check outthis link to Crater Lake National Park's website. Also on this website, you will find much more detailed information on the park, conditions at the park, and more.
What to do while visiting Crater Lake National Park?
A view from the Watchman Observation Station
Crater Later National Park is an outdoor adventurist's hot spot. There is a ton of activities to do here, all of which pretty much involve being outdoors.
There are plenty of hiking opportunities all around Crater Lake, many of which lead to high look outs over the crater, hikes down to the lake (prepare for a steep climb up!), and around some of the various other formations around the crater area. Another one of the hikes is one that encompasses the entire rim of the crater.
Pinnacles Overlook along wth Crater Lake Rim Drive
If hiking is not your thing, there is plenty of overlooks that you can pull off from the scenic rim drive and park your car to view Crater Lake. It is also what I imagine would be a challenging bike ride around the rim drive as well, though the road can be a bit narrow at times so be cautious if you are biking, and pay attention for those who may be biking if you are driving.
There are also boat tours that go out on a pretty regular basis around the lake, which also goes to Wizard Island. For information on the boat tour, please click this link which provides more information on the tours.
The area is also popular for camping as there are several campsites located around the national park. It is also a great place for photography and night time photography. You can also find a visitor center, along with a gift shop, food/restaurant, and gas located within the park. If you are camping here, there is a basic general store that may have some of those must have items you did not realize you forgot until you arrived here. There is not much else close to Crater Lake National Park as far as stores go. So come prepared if you are camping or staying here.
Mount Thielsen Summit
There are also plenty of hikes around the area of CLNP as well. One that I would recommend would be the summit hike and climb to Mount Thielsen. In the coming months, I hope to complete a blog entry specifically on this hike, so stay tuned. It was definitely quite the thrilling hike, especially the last 80-100 feet which is essentially a straight upwards level 4 to 5 scramble. Falling on this roughly 80 foot spire will result likely in death or if you're lucky, serious injury. Seen pictured above is the summit of Mt. Thielsen, which is actually another ancient volcano that collapsed in on itself. Plan to be gone for a good portion of the day if you head off on this adventure!
The summit of Mt. Thielsen, the black dots seen in this image are from lightening strikes.
Mt. Thielsen is also the known to be the most frequently struck by lightening mountain in the Cascasdes, so I would advise against being there during a lightning storm, though I would advise against being on any mountains during a storm.
Around the Crater Lake area you can also find other camping sites, fishing, kayaking/canoe areas, and more. Not too far away is the popular outdoor enthusiast city of Bend.
While most of what I described so far is for fall, summer, and some spring activities, there are activities to be done in the winter as well!
Some popular winter activities in Crater Lake National Park are winter camping, snowshoeing, skiing & cross country skiing, snowboarding, sledding, and snowmobiling. In the winter, pay close attention to weather reports as some parts of the park may be shut down.
When to go to Crater Lake?
This all depends on what you want to do, and preferences on how busy the park will be. Summer and early fall are generally the best times of year to go to Crater Lake, but you will be coming across many more people, and competing for campsites or lodging around the area. But the weather is perfect here in the summer.
The winter and early spring are going to have less tourists visiting the park, but obviously, there will be a considerable amount of snow here. You can make your own call on what time of year you would rather visit, as it is technically open year round.
The final scoop on Crater Lake
Crater Lake is a wonderful and unique national park to visit in the United States. Now more than ever is it time to appreciate what remarkable landscapes we have in our own backyard due to the limitations on world travel brought upon us by the 2020 into 2021 Coronavirus Pandemic. I always try to make time to explore my own country as there is a lot to see, but sometimes I admit I overlook things that are within my own country.
Crater Lake is not a location to overlook! I encourage you to make a trip out to this great place and sit in awe of the amazing power and force that nature and planet Earth is capable of.