In our continuing Western States Odyssey in a rented 31-foot RV, our final stop was a return to the place we had originally intended to be our first stop: Crater Lake. Unfortunately, we had gotten a late start and ultimately decided to postpone it to the end.
Crater Lake is always a special treat – breathtaking every time we “see it again for the first time.” We had been delayed somewhat by the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, which has a lot of geological similarities with Crater Lake in terms of how it came to be, but missing one key element: annual snowfalls in sufficient quantity to create a lake. At Newberry, you can drive to the top of the volcanic cone (which we did not) or you can take a gas lantern and hike into a lava cave which apparently runs underground for a mile or so (we stopped just inside the entrance. But we saw some cute chipmunks!
You can spend hours – even a full day – at the Newberry Crater visiting a variety of different formations and caves, even climbing its rim – I believe this is Paulina Peak below:
Eventually we made it to our main destination for the day, and drove the spectacular, 33-mile road around the rim of the Crater.
People like to focus on the much larger Wizard Island, and Phantom Ship Island ends up getting short shrift. But did you know that Phantom Ship Island (seen above) is sixteen storeys tall?
We ended up at the visitor center just in time to see the final showing of the park’s new video, “Crater Lake: Into the Deep”, the first video on the park since the 1980s, which premiered in April 2013. Admittedly, the video is a bit “over the top” in terms of its enthusiasm – it goes on and on giving first impressions “the first time I saw Crater Lake” and had the kids snickering in the back seat for a good 30 minutes after the show, supplying their own examples of what they did “the first time they saw Crater Lake.” But it captures the wonder that surrounds this unique park and gives spectacular underwater views as well as a great computer animation which illustrates how the park came to be.
If you get a chance to visit the lake yourself, be sure and check out the video which shows on the hour and half hour.
And thus ends our ten-day odyssey through some of America’s western states – a welcome opportunity to re-acquaint ourselves with our great country after having spent the last six years abroad representing it to others. Hopefully next time it won’t take so long to come back home.