ON THE RIM OF A VOLCANIC LAKE The violent energy that created Crater Lake is dormant, but it still has the ability to awe any visitor. With a wondrous waterscapes, weird rock formations, and an explosion of wildlife, Crater Lake is a sight to behold. Formed by the collapse of Mount Mazama after its eruption thousands of years ago—then filled with centuries of snow—the lake is considered one of the cleanest in the world. Roads circling this Gem of the Cascades open in the summer months, which gives RVers a warm entry to the doorstep of a geologic marvel.
Merriam Point’s Blue Mirror
Crater Lake hosts over 30 overlooks around the rim of its volcanic caldera. From Rim Trail at Merriam Point, you can look east and see the mythic splendor of the deep blue surface. Legend says
mountain bluebirds were once gray until they dipped their wings in the waters. Nearest Parking Lot Coordinates: 42° 57′ 55″ N 122° 09′ 05″ W
A Brisk Walk to Vidae Falls
Most waterfalls require a trek, but Vidae Falls is far less shy. Park the roadside along East Rim Drive, and you can see the falls beautifully cascade down a 115-foot bluff. Nearest Parking Lot Coordinates: 42° 53′ 02″ N 122° 05′ 59″ W
Strange Sights in the Canyon
Drive south down Pinnacles Road to Wheeler Creek Canyon. There, a short, family-friendly hike will bring you to a steep edge, where strange towers will rise to meet you—the Pinnacles. These unique spires were formed from lava ash and later shaped by erosion. Nearest Parking Lot Coordinates: 42° 51′ 00″ N 122° 00′ 27″ W
Wander through a weird and wild spectacle of volcanic wonder
There are not a lot of places like this—where you can cruise around the rim of a collapsed mountain. Or swim in the cooled mouth of a dormant, fire-breathing giant. Crater Lake is just different. Taking Rim Drive, you can circle the entire park in about an hour and gain access to over 90 miles of hiking trails. The forest teems with blooming meadows and majestic wild animals. Bald eagles soar from treetops; chipmunks chamber down them; and bears, bobcats, elk, and deer roam beneath. So while the volcano is dormant, your camera shouldn’t be.
We were told prior to our arrival that the water would be the bluest we’d ever seen, but it proved to be even bluer than we expected. To think that the entire lake was once the cone of a volcano was truly awe-inspiring and humbling.
ONE HUMBLE OPINION
Sam Leash, a seasoned RVer who has visited national parks from coast to coast, visited Crater Lake in the summer of 2017. Hiking down from the rim and even swimming in its waters, she was awestruck by the scene.