crater lake west rim
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After what seemed like an eternity of snow, rain, and gray skies Elena and I wanted to find some sun for Christmas weekend. With all of our passes shut down, we looked for locations in other states. It looked like Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park would have at least one day of sun, and with a free place to stay in Southern Oregon, we took the opportunity. The initial drive to Southern Oregon was rough, going through freezing rain, heavy rain, snow, and fog. It took a little over eight hours, and we finally arrived by about 9 pm. After a brief chat with my sister, our host for the next week, we headed for bed.
Christmas day, we again woke up to rain, clouds, and a dreary-colored sky. It felt like we couldn’t head for some chance at seeing the sun fast enough. Luckily the drive to Crater Lake was mostly snow free and went by quickly. I wasn’t sure what to expect from a National park on Christmas day and was surprised to see so many families and other hikers, snowshoers, and skiers in the parking lot. Maybe everyone was chasing the sun like us.
From the very start of our snowshoeing along the crater rim, the views were outstanding. Wizard Island was covered in a thin layer of snow and the sky was perfectly clear. It felt relieving to bask in the sunlight and wander a little.
From the Steel visitor center during winter, there is an obvious path of snowshoe marks, ski tracks, and even some posthole marks from very determined hikers leading north along the west rim of Crater Lake. The grade of the trail is easy and allowed us to keep a solid continuous pace, often stopping to snap photo after photo.
Being winter, the snowshoe route along Crater Lake’s west rim was following the summertime road. It winds behind some hills here and there and pops out over and over again with another fabulous view of the lake and its expansive ridge. The hills were dotted with snow people, both anatomically correct snowmen and snowwoman. But most of all, I couldn’t take my mind off of the sun on my skin.
Along the way, there are views of some huge mountains to the south (McLoughlin, Shasta, and Union peak) and the opportunity to view the lake simply, or for the more determined to head for the Watchman’s Lookout.
Wherever your day ends up, the snowshoe route is an easily obtainable and worthwhile place to walk amongst one of the wonders of North America. I for one will be returning the next time I have the chance.