Crater Lake: Checking off another national park

Our travels take us to the most amazing places. This past week, we spent our time at Crater Lake National Park in southern Oregon. We parked the bus at an RV park right on Diamond Lake, which is only a few minutes north of the park’s entrance. I was excited to go shooting there, not only because the scenery is fantastic, but because I just got my new 5D Mark III camera, as well as some brand-spankin’-new lenses. I just love playing with new toys tools!

A Crater Lake image I shot with my new Canon 8-15 mm Fisheye Zoom.

There are a lot of really interesting things about Crater Lake. First of all, it’s not actually a crater. It’s a caldera, which is a deep basin formed by a collapsed volcano, post-eruption. Nearly 8,000 years ago, it was a mountain. After a massive eruption, the mountain collapsed and formed what is now the deepest lake in the United States (1,943 feet at the deepest point). Because no water flows into the lake (all of the water comes from rain and melted snow) it’s some of the purest water you’ll ever see. The vibrant blue almost looks unreal.

A pano of the lake. If you look hard enough, you’ll spot Karen shooting too.

Another interesting thing is that just about all of your viewpoints of the lake are more than 1,000 feet above the water’s surface. There are various places to stop along the main road that loops around the lake, and if you’re a photographer, plan on using a pretty wide lens in order to get the whole lake in your shot (unless you’re shooting panos). The lake is 4 miles x 5 miles wide. There is, however, one trail that will take you down to water level. The trail leads to a small dock where you can catch a boat for a tour of the lake, which we did. The general boat tour is about two hours long and costs $32. per adult. To ensure a seat, you should make reservations in advance. The trail down to the water takes about 30 minutes, and it’s a pretty steep hill. It feels even steeper on the way up!

Our boat tour approached “Phantom Ship,” a formation peaking out of the lake.

Another view of Phantom Ship. This one was shot from the rim.

Even though we were visiting Crater Lake in the middle of the summer, we were blown away by the amount of snow still on the ground. There were a lot areas where the snow was still several feet deep, yet the temps reached 80+ degrees during mid-day! Part of the road that circles the lake was still closed due to snow. The main negative to all the melting snow was all the still water lying around. Still water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes, and those suckers were plentiful and aggressive! In some cases, it was hard for us to even concentrate on shooting. Luckily, we still had some serious bug repellent cream from last year’s trip to Africa, and that seemed to help ward them off.

Here I am, along side the main loop road, which was still lined with snow!

After spending our days shooting, we would often end the night at the Crater Lake Lodge, a beautiful building nearly 100 years old. The lodge overlooks the lake and has a beautiful interior that includes some massive fireplaces. We would settle in some comfy chairs, order some drinks and reflect on the day.

Overall, we had a great week at Crater Lake, and it was nice to check off another national park. Now that I’ve been to all 50 states, my new goal is to hit all the national parks. Karen keeps a National Parks Passport book, where she logs all our visits to National Parks, Monuments, Historical Sites, etc. If you’ve never heard of these books, and you like visiting national parks, check out Karen’s post about them HERE.

After leaving Crater Lake, we’re going to move on and explore more of Oregon. There are a lot of beautiful things to photograph here, and summer is the best time of the year to do it!

A waterfall right off of the main road that circles the lake.

I couldn’t resist taking this sunset shot of a funky RV in an overlook parking lot.

A family interlude

The National Park wasn’t the only thing we saw this past week. En route to Oregon, we made a stop in Salt Lake City to visit some of my family. I don’t get to see them often, so it was great to catch up. We met my aunt Jeanne and Uncle Ken at their house just north of the city. We had lunch there and spent a long time talking about what’s new in our lives. They have been anxious to meet Karen, and wanted to hear our whole story, from where we met down to how I proposed this year. We returned the next day, where we had a little gathering that also included my cousins Cathy and Lisa. I hadn’t seen them since we were all kids!

Me with my cousins Lisa and Cathy.