The Road to Crater Lake
Spring is the season of the road trip. Last year we made the pilgrimage to Las Vegas and went the long route through the desert and back up along the California coast. Recently my padre, my godfather, and I kicked off the year of American road travel with a quick trip to Crater Lake for some snow shoeing. Here’s the highlights.
Just outside of Maryhill, WA we made our first stop at a true to life version of Stonehenge. This particular version is not only the same size as the original in England but also built along the same alignment. Bizarre, yes, but it’s nice to not have to fly all the way to England to get a chance to experience the wonder of a stone sculpture aligned to the seasons. The Maryhill Stonehenge was built in 1914 by business man Sam Hill. Funny enough, Hill built the Stonehenge as a memorial to the soldiers of Klickatat county because he had been mistakenly informed that the Stonehenge site in England was built for human sacrifice.
“… Hill was mistakenly informed that the original Stonehenge had been used as a sacrificial site, and thus constructed the replica to remind us that ”humanity is still being sacrificed to the god of war.” …”
No matter the reason, this road-side attraction is a great spot to take in the sights of southern WA. It also has a sublime view of the mighty Columbia river.
If you’re still in the mood for roadside attractions you shouldn’t miss the shoe tree on the road to Crater Lake. It’s just past mile marker 53 on Highway 97. Surprisingly, it is just what it sounds like. There is a collection of shoe trees spattered across the Pacific Northwest, each just as strange as the rest. While the reasons for the shoe trees are various, they share some things in commons. Mostly that they are trees… with shoes in them.
We carried on down Highway 97, south, towards Crater Lake and stopped in Bend, OR. It’s a little haven for the outdoor enthusiast. My favorite part of our brief foray into the wild town of Bend was (by far) our stop into The Broken Top Bottle Shop.
This hot spot has a legit vegan menu, a list of local brews longer than the book of Numbers, and some dishes that include trout from the nearby river. I’d personally recommend getting the 6 beer flight and take a stroll down delicious lane.
By this point it’s really only a hop, skip, and 90 miles to Crater Lake. We stopped into a small town just outside of the lake for the night. The next morning we approached the lake from the south end. It’s a sweet ride through a loping valley studded with meandering streams. The highlight of the valley is the haunted house. Frankly, I don’t know if it’s haunted, but it has skeletons in the window, which usually means haunted.
The lake itself if, as they say, off the hook. There is a 31 mile road and/or trail around the lake that you can take in the summer months. As it was, there was 8 feet of snow around the edge of the crater. The was the perfect opportunity to snowshoe around.
Crater Lake is the remnant of a no longer active volcano. 2000 ft. plus cliff frame waters that have been rated as some of the most pure in the nation. Crater Lake has no inlets or outlets and is strictly fed by snowfall and snow melt. The lake keeps it’s crystal clean appearance due largely in part to the fact that no watercraft are allowed. (Not that you’d want to find a way to haul your boat down a 2000 ft. cliff.) It also has a small island in the middle of it called “Wizard Island.” That just happens to be one of my favorite things in the world.
If you get the chance to visit Crater Lake you should do it. Summer or Winter, it’s the bee’s knees. Here’s a few more shots to peak your interest.
If you’ve been to Crater Lake let us know if the comments below. If not, tell us what you think the best part of Central Oregon is.