While on our road trip this summer we had the opportunity to visit Crater Lake. But we had less than a whole day to see it, we were meeting family for dinner in Bend, Oregon so, we had to be strategic with our time.
The first thing we did was head to park headquarters. Where we picked up junior ranger books for the boys and purchased all the souvenirs we collect. We looked over the map and planned our attack. We were traveling with family, some of whom love to hike and others who would need to take it slow. So we chose an easy hike with a pretty destination and some key sight seeing spots to make the most of our day.
The hike we chose was to Plaikni Falls. It’s a 2 mile round trip, easy hike. It starts with a path through the redwoods and then the last quarter mile inclines a bit. The hike was INFESTED with mosquitoes but once you get to the falls it’s amazing (we went on the first of July and were later told to avoid the Cascade Mountains until mid July when the mosquitos are less prolific). At the falls, the mosquitos are replaced with butterflies, and the rushing sound of water, and wildflowers. Seriously, it was so dreamy! This hike was easy and rewarding and perfect to squeeze into our short time here.
After our hike to the waterfall we went see the lake! None of us had ever been here before so we were in awe, as we turned the last curve in the road, and saw the lake in all its grand blueness! We ate lunch at the Rim Cafe, the food was decent but expensive, typical park food, but it didn’t matter because we were staring out at that big, beautiful lake. After lunch we walked over to the lake and just stood in awe of it’s amazing blue color.
We walked along the observation trail and read the informational boards and took photos. Then we walked all around the Rim Village. The boys completed their Junior Ranger books and earned Jr. Ranger badges and they also participated in a junior ranger activity and earned patches! We walked down to the Sinnott Memorial Overlook while we were there too. The overlook provides an amazing view of the lake, like looking at it through a frame, it puts you right on the edge of the lake with nothing to disrupt your view. The overlook also has an information center that describes the blast that created the lake, it’s full of great information. By then we had ran out of time and had to get going. We decided to drive out of the north side of the lake so that gave us the opportunity to take in the views as we drove and stop to snap a few photos on our way.
I’m never a fan of rushing or not fully experiencing a place but sometimes all you get is a day. So, if all you have is a day, the things we did will give you a great overview of Crater Lake. But be warned, you will want to go back and explore more, I know we do.