Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park

After a long drive that felt surprisingly short, we made it to Port Orford, Oregon to watch Ry finish the American Trail Race. We were watching his tracker and made it along the trail to cheer him on. We didn’t have service where we were at, so we just hung out awhile and enjoyed the nature… and wine. I found an amazing bottle of wine at a local store that has it divided into four glasses already! It was amazingggg. 

Ry and Mike at the American Trail Race finish in Port Orford, Oregon

However, after a few hours when we had expected to see him, we got a little worried and drove back down to where we had service. Ry had finished the race and was on the beach in Port Orford! Somehow, his tracker didn’t match up to the location and trail that we saw on Trackleaders. A little disappointing, but still wonderful nevertheless to see our friend. He looked incredibly strong and didn’t smell too terrible considering what he just did.  We took Ry to a local tavern, had dinner and drinks, and heard about the whole adventure. I also snuggled dog during the 4th of July fireworks.  

Since Ry was going to be in the area for a few days, he joined us in visiting Crater Lake National Park!  It was a few hours away, so we made it to the Park early evening. We entered from the North Entrance and drove southwest on the Rim Drive to the Visitor Centers. We stopped at a couple over looks and looked at the deepest, and incredibly clean and blue, lake in the United States. While the Rim Drive is technically a circle, the East side was still closed due to snow. So, we drove to the end of the road and did the Castle Crest Wildflower Trail (no flowers but lots of mosquitos!), Vidae Falls, and Sun Notch Trail to see the Phantom Ship Overlook. Mosquitos were literally  everywhere; in our mouths when we talked, circling our nether regions when we used the outhouse, ugh. I know they’re crucial to basically every eco system but they are the worst.

Phantom Ship Overlook

Anywayyyyy…. We drove back out and camped right outside the entrance in National Forest. There were still a bajillion mosquitos that were attacking us (mostly me) so we ate and promptly went to bed… at 8pm. This ended up being really good though because we woke up early and hiked the 1 mile steep Cleetwood Cove trail at 8am. This is the only trail down to the lake.

When we got there, we were the only ones down there, except for the boat tour workers. It was simply stunning. We walked out on to the dock and looked down into the water. Despite it being hundreds of feet deep, even that close to shore, we could see all the way to the bottom through that crystal clear blue. Ry saw a couple people swimming later in the glacial cold water and decided to cliff jump in. I kind of regret not doing it as well, but I wasn’t exactly wearing family friendly underwear. As we hiked back up this “strenuous” trail (my calves burned, but it’s not that terrible, I promise) in 23 minutes, we passed dozens and dozens of people going down to the lake.  

As there really wasn’t much left to do, in terms of day hikes or overlooks, we went and got my 30th junior ranger badge and left. It was maybe 10am at this point, and the line to get in was about hundred cars deep! I can’t believe I just got my 30th junior ranger badge. I’m halfway there guys! The next 29 are going to go by too quickly. 

Recommendations

  • BUG SPRAY. All of it. 
  • Unless you’re an avid and experienced backcountry camper, there isn’t too much to do except stop at overlooks, especially if part of the drive is closed. It’s still worth it to visit because it’s stunning, but be prepared for a pretty chill National Park experience (minus the crowds of people). 
  • No matter your fitness level, hike down Cleetwood Trail. It is worth it and you CAN do the hike back up (there is plenty of shade and don’t wear shitty flip flops). Bring a picnic, play in the water, make a day of it! Also the bugs weren’t nearly as bad down at the lake as they were around the rim.

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