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  • Writer's pictureMick McMurray

Crater Lake National Park

Updated: Feb 17

Crater Lake was formed by the now-collapsed volcano, Mount Mazama. It is a beautiful lake with crystal-clear blue water. The only water entering the lake is through the annual rainfall and snow melt. It is the deepest lake in the US and the 9th deepest in the world.

We took 2 days driving to Crater Lake National Park with an overnight stop at Mount Shasta. At Crater Lake, we stayed in the Mazama Village Campground in the park for 3 nights with water and electrical hookups.

From the campground, it is a short drive up Munson Valley Rd, to the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway ( The Rim Drive). The Byway goes all the way around the lake so it doesn’t matter which way you go. There are many pull-outs with scenic views and hiking trails.

One of our favorite hikes was down the Cleetwood Cove Trail where we took a boat out to Wizard Island and explored and ate lunch. There is a large elevation change on the trail so be prepared. You can also hike down to the lake here and swim in the lake. It was an amazing 4-hour trip and exploring Wizard Island was wonderful. We did get to see The Old Man Log which is a log that floats around the lake, vertically in the water column.

Another fun hike is up the Watchman Peak Trail to the Watchman Peak Fire Lookout. From the parking lot to the tower is about .8 of a mile on a well-maintained trail with many switchbacks. This is spectacular at sunset with amazing views. Probably the best view of Wizard Island in the park. At the tower, there were probably 8 other people all just sitting quietly and watching the view waiting for the sun to set. It was a little windy and cool but it was July so all we needed was a light jacket.

We also hiked the Sun Notch Trail with views of the Phantom Ship, a small island. The trail wandered through the forest along the rim and there were benches where you could sit and take in the view.

Sunrise and sunset are spectacular times at Crater Lake. Drive around Rim Road during the daytime and pick locations for your photos and come back at twilight for the shot. Chances are you will have the overlook or location all to yourself. This is my favorite time of day. Watching it change from dark through the different twilight phases to the sunrise is like a spiritual experience.

Another fun stop is the Pinnacles Overlook with its strange-looking formations. You get to the overlook down Pinnacles Rd. off of the Rim Drive. There is a short walk to get to the overlooks but it is worth it. We had never seen anything quite like it and we had the views all to ourselves.

Lorna’s Tips and Lessons

I will admit I overpack. This is especially true for long trips and when there could be a lot of different weather conditions. I know most of the time we plan on doing laundry about every 5-7 days and I can always wash something out by hand but I like having choices. I will work on packing less, however, what I have found to be really helpful is packing things in organizing cubes. It makes it easy to find things in my bag and keep things organized. I use them not just for my clothes but in organizing other items in our drawers.

On to Mount Rainier National Park


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