A Quick Sojourn to Crater Lake

[Bend / Crater Lake National Park, Sep 17-18, 2022]

I hadn’t been to Crater Lake since 2019. When my friend suggested we pop over for a weekend from Portland, I couldn’t say no. I was sure I was going to find something new to see!

We drove to Crater Lake on a Saturday morning and made a beeline for the park. Sadly, the east part of Rim Drive was closed for the annual Ride the Rim event. That part of Rim Drive was only open to people on foot or on bikes. I was disappointed as I was hoping to complete the full loop around the lake this time. Last time I was here, in early July, the East Rim was still covered with snow. I guess I will need a third trip.

We visited a couple of overlooks on the West Rim, which were as beautiful as I remembered them. The weather was cloudy this time, unlike in July 2019, so Crater Lake’s famous blue color the was not at all apparent. I still enjoyed the familiar sights. It’s not often that I return to a place I’ve already visited, and I always cherish the feeling of familiarity and the more relaxed pace of sight-seeing.

I was determined to do something new though, and the Watchman Lookout Trail looked like it would fit the bill. It’s less than a mile to the top but with 400 ft of gain beginning at 7,600 ft, it will still get your heart rate up.

At the top is Watchman Tower, built in the 1920s to serve as a fire lookout and interpretive site. It was one of two fire lookouts in Crater Lake. Although it’s no longer used for this purpose, its accessibility, the unobstructed view on all sides, and the use of native materials that blend the structure into the surrounding landscape make it a unique and historically significant structure. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

By the time we got to it, the sun managed to break out from the clouds and we could see that famous blue color show up around Wizard Island. Even though this was a short visit, it was totally worth it.

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