Where should we go? Let's go someplace within reasonable driving distance - and make is a place neither of us have ever been. During that time (spring), one of Chad's classes was working on a project researching National Parks. He forwarded me some of the information about a few of the closest National Parks and we quickly determined we would go to Crater Lake.
Where should we stay? Everything nearby was booked during the time-frame we were free to travel! Apparently, Crater Lake is a pretty popular travel destination. I had heard through the blogging grapevine about an online company called AirBNB. From their site...
Founded in August of 2008 and based in San Francisco, California, Airbnb is a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world — online or from a mobile phone. Whether an apartment for a night, a castle for a week, or a villa for a month, Airbnb connects people to unique travel experiences, at any price point, in more than 33,000 cities and 192 countries. And with world-class customer service and a growing community of users, Airbnb is the easiest way for people to monetize their extra space and showcase it to an audience of millions.
I started looking for a place to stay over in that area and found the best little cabin in the woods near Chiloquin, Oregon - about a 45 minute drive from Crater Lake. Setting up an account on Airbnb was super easy and looking through the variety of listings is kind of fun - and very intriguing. Makes me want to travel more! We communicated through the site with the owners of the cabin and soon had everything arranged to stay for three nights.
You know me, I researched the entire area and had maps and printouts of various sights in Crater Lake National Park and nearby. We left on a Tuesday thinking it would be nice to visit in the middle of the week so the park was not as busy. We also did not have any weekends open and had to be home Friday night for an FFA event and a wedding Saturday. Talk about busy!
Tuesday morning, Chad got my pickup serviced while I finished packing and getting ready. Running late - which is pretty normal for me to be honest. We hit the road about an hour or so after we originally planned, but that was okay because we were on vacation!
No vacation is without its bumps and ours started out with SMOKE as we hit the top of Vine's Hill between Vale and Harper, Oregon. As we pulled over to the side of the road, we were thankful we were not too far from home and still had cell service. Chad checked everything out - but really, neither of us is very mechanically inclined when it comes to cars.
Once Raul arrived and assessed the situation, he determined we were correct - he got everything fixed up and we were ready to hit the road - again! The rest of the drive over went smoothly - Chad drove, and I slept most of the way. We knew we had a big day ahead of us on Wednesday exploring Crater Lake National Park, so we went into Chiloquin and bought a few groceries before heading out to the cabin for a relaxing night. When we arrived at the cabin, the area was beautiful, the hosts had signs pointing us the right areas and had even left us a welcoming present along with a well-stocked fridge and cupboards!
|Welcome to the cabin!|
After we brought in our luggage and groceries and settled in for the night - we cooked up a little dinner in the nice cabin kitchen and promptly fell asleep. Driving all day makes for one tired couple!
Wednesday morning, we woke up and got ready for the day. The weather was beautiful - warm, but not sweltering hot, which was a very nice break from the string of 100+ degree days we were experiencing in Eastern Oregon at the time. We met with the owners of the other home on the property who also own and manage the cabin and they gave us a list of suggested activities at Crater Lake before we packed snacks and set off on our way.
The drive all the way up to the Park is really gorgeous and you wonder when you will actually see the trademark blue waters - but first, you have to get the pass to go into the park. I thought it was pretty reasonable and our pass got us in for multiple days. We also stopped in at the Visitors Center and watched a video about the formation of Crater Lake, learned about a variety of activities, grabbed a map, and set out on our way.
|Wizard Island at Crater Lake National Park - Oregon|
This is the first view we caught. It almost doesn't look real. Wednesday was a sunny day with minimal wind, and it was much busier than we ever could have imagined - people and cars were everywhere! The view looked more like a picture than a real place. It was kind of incredible. Clearly, I took an overload of photos - as you will find out in this post.
We decided to drive all around Crater Lake - originally named "Deep Blue Lake" and it took us about two hours with all the breaks and stops we made along the way. Of course, we felt the need to stop at almost all of the first few stops, and then after a bit, we only stopped at the "more special" viewpoints.
|Chad looking at Pirate Ship Rock - Crater Lake, OR|
One of the suggestions our cabin hosts made was to make the drive and hike to see the Pinnacles. It was about a 15 minute drive and the hike through Pinnacle Valley was very easy and about a mile one-way. The Pinnacles were formed before Mount Mazama's collapse (Crater Lake was once a mountain taller than the body of water is deep) by volcanic vents and soft pumice stone - building cement-like towers that are slowly being eroded by rain.
That night, we had reservations for dinner at Crater Lake Lodge and we were able to hang out in the rocking chairs on the back deck for about an hour prior to our reservation. It was a great way to relax before dinner. Dinner though - was really yummy and dessert was even better. I ate way too much, but that's what vacation is for, right?
We booked a ride in the boat tour around Crater Lake and I knew we were going to jump in that water when we got close to it, so we wore our swimming suits. There is only one trail down to the water and it is about 1.2 miles and full of switchbacks - it takes you down to Cleetwood Cove. The trail is nicely maintained and going down was super easy. We had to check in about an hour before our boat departure and wouldn't you know - one of the boats was having issues and our charter had been cancelled. We rebooked on another time and started making our way down to the water's edge.
When we had almost reached the bottom of the trail, I saw a young couple making their way up in wet swimming suits. I asked them if there were places to jump in - they told me about cliffs you could jump off into the water. I was immediately hooked. We were doing it. When we got to the cliffs, there were a couple other groups there and we all took turns jumping and taking photos for each other.
You know, almost everyone I have talked to about our little vacation from this area has never been to Crater Lake. I highly suggest you go, it is gorgeous and really not that far from home. Load up the car one of these days and go. I hear it is equally as stunning when there is snow on the ground!