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7,700 years ago, Mount Mazama (an ancient volcano) collapsed forming Crater Lake in its caldera. This is an amazing sight to see today…in my opinion, it is just as impressive as the Grand Canyon, though not as vast.
Because I looked online about 11 months ahead of our trip, I was too late to secure lodging in the park. So our experience at the Crater Lake Lodge was limited to the lobby, front desk, patio and dining room. The no-frill rooms only sleep two people so we needed two rooms for our family and we didn’t book far enough in advance to get the two rooms for the time we wanted (reservations open up 13 months in advance and sell out quickly.)
So that left us with only one day to explore this park. While we did make the most of our day, with a hike to Garfield Peak in the AM (see my post on Garfield Peak here) and a Rim Road Trolley tour in the afternoon (coming in a future post) we would also have liked to take the boat tour to Wizard Island and explored some other areas of the park, like the Pinnacles. You really need at least two days here to experience this park.
Crater Lake Lodge was built in 1915 and is located on the southwest rim of the Crater Lake caldera. Perched on a cliff, 1000 feet above the lake below, it boasts some wonderful views. The patio has rocking chairs where you can sit and take in the stunning scenery.
We stopped in and asked for directions and advice at the front desk before embarking on our morning’s hike. The woman at the front desk was very helpful in answering our questions about the trails.
The common areas are beautiful, vintage and inviting. We relaxed by the fireplace after our hike to Garfield Peak while we waited for the restaurant to open for lunch.
The lodge restaurant itself was beautiful, both for the lake views and the rustic architecture (love the tree trunk supporting columns) but the food was disappointing for the price we paid. We expect to overpay when eating in one of the historic park lodges, but this was worse than most we’ve experienced.
I had the ham, Brie and apple sandwich which would have been good if the bread wasn’t stale. The dill feta potato salad that came on the side was delicious. Our group also had the grilled cheese and the Burger. The Burger was just OK, too well-done for my husband’s taste. The grilled cheese was just a plain grilled cheese on sliced bread…something you’d find on a kid’s menu, but it was a full-priced entree.
I’m glad we ate here once for the experience, but I would go to the cafe at the other end of the rim village next time.
With some time to kill before boarding our trolley for the Rim Tour, we explored the other buildings in the village, taking the stairs behind the Visitors Center down to the Sinnott Memorial Overlook.
The Sinnott Memorial Observation Station is built into an outcropping on the cliff face of the caldera wall. It was built in 1931 and was the first NPS building constructed as a museum. Its stone masonry design set the architectural standard for future buildings at Crater Lake National Park.
The viewing area has an open-air balcony with a spectacular view of the lake, and you are 50 feet below the rim, so the view is a little different than what you can see on the balcony of the lodge. The museum exhibits, which highlight the history of Mount Mazama and the formation of Crater Lake, are located in the center of the observation room and around the walls.
Back in the village, at the conclusion of our trolley tour. We stopped in the Community Center building for some Ranger-led crafts and free cookies in celebration of the National Park Service’s 100th birthday.
Location: Crater Lake, OR
Designation: National Park
Date designation declared: 5/22/1902
Date of my visit: 8/25/2016