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Crater Lake For First Time In December

New York City, New...
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Crater Lake For First Time In December

Thoughts? I know only the South Entrance is open generally and we'll only be able to drive up to the Steel visitor center. I know we might be able to snowshoe to the rim depending on weather conditions. Any tips from folks who went in the winter?

Where is the closest we can overnight near Crater Lake in the winter? We wanted to get as close as possible the night before and head up to CL the next morning. Thanks!

Oregon
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11. Re: Crater Lake For First Time In December

Yes a bit puzzling all the interest in Crater Lake in the snow. I know I would not like to drive that road in snowy conditions. I have never been there in winter so not sure how the road is, even though it is open. Surely it is a bit difficult.

Eugene, Oregon
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12. Re: Crater Lake For First Time In December

We seem to be having difficulty convincing people what winter is like in our mountains. Especially the sun belt travelers. They must think they'll be showing up at a bustling lakeside resort.

The people I know who go there in winter are experienced snowshoers and cross country skiers. They go into the mountains in summer fully prepared with extra clothing, food, water and emergency supplies. They go into the mountains in winter even more prepared, including their vehicles.

We always warn TA posters about using forest roads in winter; maybe now we have to really impress them about even the most basic ABC's of winter travel. I am particularly struck by the ones who are planning really long trips just to see Crater Lake on a weekend. That's really going "all in" with a weak hand.

Oregon
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13. Re: Crater Lake For First Time In December

I have driven most of the Oregon Mountain passes in winter, but with good snow tires. and in recent years with 4WD. And more than once with chains. The main highways ODOT works hard to maintain, just find it hard to believe road to Crater Lake would be that well maintained. but maybe.

Eugene, Oregon
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14. Re: Crater Lake For First Time In December

It's not just that the road to and through south entrance is well maintained, it's having a white out snow storm hit just at one's arrival or departure on a tight 3-day trip. Timing is everything where weather is concerned. No road is better maintained than I-5 over the Siskiyous and it gets slammed and shut down several times each winter. We've risked it when tripcheck says it's open and avoided it when it says it's a mess and cut over to the coast route. We once misjudged our timing and luck and wound up spending 3 hours inching along behind a semi, blind to all else but his tail lights. And if faced with the probability of chains, I'm too old for that struggle.

Add in ice, black ice, sleet, etc....

If I'm going to stay warm and well fed at the Prospect Hotel and joining rangers for snowshoe hikes and have a whole week's flexibility...that's fine. Same goes for Timberline, although one never feels stranded there. Big fireplace, lots of black coffee and brandy, good food and watching winter from the warmth of the great inside. I like Crater Lake in the summer.

Salem, Oregon
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15. Re: Crater Lake For First Time In December

Having worked at Crater Lake one summer during college, I was amazed to see the poster's subject line and simply HAD to read the posting

My first thought was whaaaaaat??

There was quite a bit of snow in June, I only shudder to think what December would be like and have my fingers tightly crossed that the posters seriously listen to the Oregonians' advice.

Definitely not a trip to be taken lightly by inexperienced travelers!

New York City, New...
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16. Re: Crater Lake For First Time In December

Hi all - Thanks for your tips and help. I know some folks were discouraging and I'm glad I didn't listen to them. We just returned from an amazing trip to Oregon and did see Crater Lake. We got one of the few sunny days there is in winter - we didn't have a cloud in the sky. It was last Sunday. Crater Lake takes planning and we made sure to check weather conditions (repeatedly) and figure out best/safest routes. We took I-5 from Portland to Eugene, took Hwy 58 (Willamette Pass) to US 97, down to 230/Diamond Lake Highway, and then 62W (Crater Lake Highway) and stayed overnight in Union Creek. It was amazing. The Union Creek lodge cabins are awesome, especially, in the winter and Beckie's Cafe definitely is worth a stop for the food and pies. It was quaint and romantic and we loved it. We drove up the next morning (Sunday) bright and early, after renting snowshoes from Union Creek Lodge (only 8 bucks for half a day) and the 35 minute drive to the lake was GORGEOUS. We took it slow, there had been some snow a few days prior, but it was perfectly do-able and fine. We had a 4X4 and did not require chains at all through this trip. Just drive slow and take in the breathtaking scenery. It was a clear, crisp, and sunny day. We got to Crater Lake and parked at Rim Village (the closest possible spot to Crater Lake) and put on our snowshoes. The snow was fresh and reasonably deep, I know they haven't received a lot of snow this year. It was the most remarkable, surreal, and ethereal experience I've ever had - sighting Crater Lake and then snowshoeing around portions of the rim. Also, if you can walk, you can snowshoe. It's very easy, you don't need prior experience. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to do the ranger-led snowshoe hikes which are every Saturday or Sunday at 1 pm, for 2 hours, depending on the weather. But I think that would have been cool too.

So all in all, having never been to Crater Lake or Oregon before, it went ridiculously amazing. Like I said, some of you folks are right. Crater Lake does require pre-planning in winter (and I'd argue in summer also), but nothing that can't be done even for first timers. I did realize and enjoy the fact that Crater Lake was nestled in the wilderness, with not much human activity around. Heck, that was the entire beauty of it!

P.S. We were only in Oregon from Saturday to Tuesday, but saw Crater Lake, drove through Howland Hill Drive (redwood detour in Cali), saw the Oregon coast from Crescent City, CA to Lincoln City, saw the Multonah Falls on the Columbia River historic highway, and a bunch of rivers, lakes, mountains, and other breathtaking scenery in between! Amazing!

Edited: 14 December 2013, 16:00
Portland, Oregon
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17. Re: Crater Lake For First Time In December

Thanks for the trip report wavypearl- sounds like you lucked out on weather as well. Its just one of those things where its so unpredictable and you never know how prepared folks are when they describe their trips, etc. Im glad you were able to see a lot of the sights and had a enjoyable time!! Winter in Crater Lake can be beautiful, but also can have tons of snow- my sister lived at the park for a winter awhile back and got her exercise during snowstorms, which dumped 2-3feet no problem...

18. Re: Crater Lake For First Time In December

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