Crater Lake- The East Rim

Hi everyone!!  I know it’s been awhile since I’ve blogged but after I hurt my ankle, I kind of fell into a funk and didn’t do much of anything.  I mean, I was writing a post about the 7 top hiking trails in San Diego and then I fall and tear ankle ligaments while doing just that- hiking!  But I’m back on the horse (or trail, I guess) and in Oregon with my parents visiting Crater Lake National Park.  My parents have started visiting a lot of the National Parks around the country and Julio and I like to join them whenever we can.  It’s a fun way to see them and spend time together, as well as get some great hikes in at some fantastic places!

Relaxing on the dock at our rental cabin
Entering Crater Lake National Park
First view of the lake

I flew into Portland to meet my Mom and Dad, who had gone to Mount Rainier in Washington the three days prior.  They had rented a car and we drove the three and a half hours down to Cresent Lake, a TINY town about an hour north of Crater Lake.  We had a nice cabin located along a creek that perfectly suited our needs for the trip.  It was a little bit of a drive to the park, but as we found out, there weren’t many options outside the park for accommodations- we were literally in the middle of nowhere.  The lodge inside the park is booked far in advance, so we ended up with the cabin, which as I said, worked out fine.  

Perfect reflection

Our first day in the park we decided to drive the East Rim, which is the longer of the two sides around the lake.  Crater Lake was formed 7,700 years ago when Mount Mazama erupte and then collapsed in on itself after all of the magma and ash beneath the surface was expelled.   Snow and rainfall filled the lake over the years, and today it is the deepest lake in the United States and the 7th deepest in the world.  It’s also known as one of the clearest lakes in the world, with a visibility depth of over 100 feet.  Because of this, it’s color is an other-worldly electric blue and a beautiful turquoise near the shore.  We arrived just before 9am the first morning and there was a lookout spot right as we pulled in.  Our first views of the lake were amazing.  The small island in the lake is also a volcano known as Wizard Island.  Crater Lake itself is known as the 10th most dangerous volcano in the country, but has been quiet for the last 5,000 years.  

Vidae Falls
Phantom Ship

As we started our drive around the East Rim, there were several lookout spots that provided a different view of the lake at every turn.  The walls of the caldera are so steep in places that you are looking straight down 2,000 feet at clear blue water.  The East Rim road winds its way around Crater Lake for 24 miles, with various hiking trails and picture stops along the way.  It’s usually closed until mid-July due to the remaining snow in the higher elevations.  In fact, we found out that the East Rim road was closed up until the day before we arrived, no wonder we had the park almost to ourselves!  We made a stop at Cleetwood Cove on the northeast side of the lake, where there is a booth to buy boat tour tickets.  We were able to score some seats on the tour that afternoon at 3:30.  


Continuing around the lake, we took a detour down to see the Pinnacles, which are a collection of ash spires that cooled quickly after the eruption to leave these interesting protrusions along a small valley.  We also stopped to see a roadside waterfall called Vidae falls, where the water was cool and refreshing.  At the Visitor’s Center and the Rim Village you can pick up a map, souvineers, and talk to any rangers about questions you may have.  The Lodge is located at Rim Village as well, and several hiking trails start there.  

Plaikni Falls
View of the lava formations on the caldera

We returned to Cleetwood Cove for our 2 hour boat tour of the caldera, and it wasn’t as exciting as I’d hoped.  Our guide, Ranger Bob, was less than enthusiastic about the tour, had a habit of clearing his throat in the middle of every sentence and trailing off in the middle of an explanation without ever finishing it.  Plus, it was very hot at this point, and even warmer down on the surface of the lake.  I would have enjoyed the tour a lot more if we had had a more interesting Ranger guide.  It was breezy out on the water and we were able to see just how clear the water really is- at one point, our guide pointed out a shelf near Phantom Ship that was about 50 feet deep, and then dropped off to 1000 feet.  From the boat we could see the shelf and pretty far down the cliff below it- my mom and I couldn’t believe how clear it was!  

Wizard Island lake view
Boating around Phantom Ship

After the boat tour, we were pretty exhausted after a full first day in the park, so we headed home, stopping for dinner at a little diner in the town of Chemult along the way.  Crater Lake is so beautiful and serene, and it’s definitely worth the out of the way drive to get there!

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