I took a road trip recently, from LA to Oregon and back in 4 days. It was a crazy idea. 2000 miles later and so many memories. I'm going to take this week to share my favorite stops. I think Crater Lake is one of the most beautiful places on the West Coast and maybe that I’ve ever seen. Granted I haven’t been everywhere to acurately make this statement, but once you see these pictures, I think it’s a fair assessment. And really, pictures don't even do it justice. In the very least, I think it is heavily overlooked as a “must-see” on the West Coast and in Oregon. Most people make their stops in Portland and along the coast. Side note, I’m also convinced Oregon is a hidden gem in the states.
A little history, Crater Lake was formed by a volcanic explosion leaving a massive caldera filled with snow and rain. This produced a crater with the most piercing, bluest waters you have ever seen. I mean it is humongous. It is 1,943 feet at it deepest, making it the deepest lake in the United States.
When you get your first glimpse of the lake, it literally takes your breath away. Like you turn the corner and there is this giant lake that is a color of blue that only exists in your dreams. I put together my list of top 5 things you have to do at Crater Lake. But really the biggest must do is to go visit Crater Lake, now.
1. Rim Drive
The drive around the Rim of Crater Lake is about 33 miles long with more than 30 overlooks. You don’t need to do the whole thing, especially if you don’t have that much time there. Most of these turnoffs start to look slightly similar. Don’t get me wrong they are all beautiful, but the best unobstructed view was from the turnout around Devils Backbone near Merriam Point.
2. Hike Down to the Lake
There’s only one way to hike down to the lake which is at Cleetwood Cove Trail. The trail is only about a mile, but is pretty steep. It zig zags it’s way down to the lake with beautiful views the entire way. I would suggest doing this hike in the early morning before it gets crowded. We went at 7am and literally had the entire lake to ourselves. Not a soul in sight. Such a peaceful and serene experience to have a completely undisturbed, still lake to yourselves.
3. Cliff Jump
Once down at the lake, there’s a spot for prime cliff jumping that’s in front of where the restrooms are on the far right. I believe it’s about a 35 foot jump. There’s nothing like it especially if you have the lake to yourself. The lake is crystal clear so much so that you can see the rocks many feet down just until it gets so deep that all you see is dark blue water. That’s how you know its really deep. It is freezing cold, but so exhilarting. Do it, I dare you! Make sure you hold your pencil jumping position, because otherwise it’ll feel like your butt lands on bricks. Just trust me on that one.
While you’re here, pitch a tent and set up camp at the Mazama Camp Grounds. Its not super close to the lake, but is the only place to camp in the area.
5. View from the Lodge Rocking Chairs
Something about rocking chairs overlooking a picturesque view. Doesn’t it make you think of a cute couple that grew old together admiring their life together? Or is that just me? Regardless, if you do some hiking around the lake, this is a great spot to take a load off and rest up.
Try to plan your trip when the sun is shining and it's not snowing. From pictures, the lake looks gorgeous with all that snow around it, but I've heard that there usually are multiple road closures due to snow and weather. If you want to be able to see the rim in its entirety, plan accordingly. But trust me, plan it!
Yours Truly // Shannon