So here’s the story, for my 18th birthday my dad decided we would take a day trip to Crater Lake. Just me, my mom, and dad and a 10-12 hour round trip in the backseat of a car on a huge birthday. I was…less than pleased with the situation and, shall we say, not exactly grateful for the opportunity, I had other plans that had nothing to do with parents. We drove down, looked at the lake, walked around the gift shop and lodge, and drove home. That was my dad’s MO for sightseeing, drive a long way, get out and look, drive a long way back.
But here’s the deal, the lake was stunning. Pretty much every awesome photo you’ve ever seen of Crater Lake is true. It looks just like that. Plus, there was shopping which was a bonus to the average Western teenager that I was. There were also chipmunks everywhere, they would eat out of people’s hands. The chipmunks are gone (which is awesome, it was a little freaky how many there were. I kept waiting for them to converge and attack). So while we were actually at the Lake, I had a good time. Just seriously, 12 hours in the backseat of the car listening to my parents when I wanted to be out with my friends doing…whatever it is you can do when you turn 18 (which wasn’t much).
Eighteen was many years ago, so I put Crater Lake back on my list of places to go and managed to celebrate this birthday with friends and family at the Lake. But there is so much more to do than drive down and stare at the Lake. The 30 mile drive around the lake is worthwhile but there are also several short excursions you can do while you’re there. Plaikni Falls was wonderful, Castle Crest Wildflower Meadow is lots of fun, and then there is here, The Pinnacles. We spent two nights and still did not see every thing we wanted to.
This last photo is the reverse view of photos two and three. The Pinnacles were formed after the explosion that created the Lake. Ash flowed into the canyon and then for months after superheated gas vented up through the ash. The intense heat welded the ash creating solid rock. The water from the creek wore away the loose ash leaving the harder pinnacles behind.
If you do decide to visit the Lake, I highly recommend Trails of Crater Lake National Park & Oregon Caves National Monument by William L. Sullivan. I usually use the information off websites and travel brochures but this is a great book. We were constantly opening it up to find more information about the area and to decide what to do next (the park actually sells this book on their website).