U.S. National Parks by ParkReservations.Com and Yellowstone Net

 Crater Lake National Park
 Rim Drive

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Introduction     Plan Your Visit (Map)       Weather      Activities      Wildlife       History
Mazama Village    Munson Valley     Rim Village     Rim Drive      The Pinnacles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
  The 33-mile Rim Drive encircles Crater Lake, with each mile giving a very different perspective of the lake, rim, and surrounding terrain. Open only during the summer from late June to mid-October, there are numerous overlooks, many with interpretive signs. The only access to the lake itself is via a steep trail to Cleetwood Cove, where boat tours of the lake are offered. Numerous picnic areas can be found along the Rim Drive, as well as hiking access to Garfield Peak (from Rim Village), Lightning Springs (west side), Cleetwood Cove (north side), Mount Scott (east side), Sun Notch Viewpoint and Crater Peak (south side). Both Kerr Notch and Sun Notch Viewpoints are particularly spectacular viewpoints, with views down to Phantom Rock and across the lake to Wizard Island. To protect the fragile meadows, please stay on the established trails!


Spring Opening of the Rim Drive

If you visit the park during spring, you will find Rim Drive still closed. It closes each year in mid-October due to the heavy winter snows. "Spring Opening", or the clearing of snow from Rim Drive around the lake before summer, usually begins in mid-April. During the first phase of this operation, our road crews clear 15 miles of roadway along the west side of Crater Lake reaching the park's north entrance by mid-June. The second phase completes the opening of Rim Drive all around Crater Lake by early July. If left to melt out naturally, many sections of Rim Drive might remain closed until the end of July or early August!

The work involves several hazards for our staff. In most places the road is covered by more than 20 feet of snow. Drifts as high as 60 feet must be cleared from the road behind Watchman Peak. Rim Drive is located aside sheer cliffs that drop off hundreds of feet. Snow completely obscures the roadway, and the edges of the cliffs are not always evident. Obstacles such as large trees and boulders fall on the road during winter and are hidden with the snow drifts. Sensors are used to pinpoint a wire buried in the center of the road in areas where the route is not apparent under the snow. Large bull-dozers called Cats push snow away from the route until the road has only about 5 feet of snow above it. When the Cats are through, large snowblowers remove the remaining snow down to the road surface. Clearing 1/4 mile of Rim Drive per day is considered a fast rate. Only a few hundred feet of roadway are cleared on many days. Major winter storms with high winds and heavy snows continue to strike the park through May, often delaying road clearing progress for several days.

The Park staff's desire is to make the park roads accessible to visitors for the longest season possible, but they are limited by the park's severe winters and the hazards of clearing snow from Rim Drive.  The "Spring Opening" operation cannot be rushed, or it would jeopardize the safety of Park staff. Although visitors may be inconvenienced by the time it takes to reopen Rim Drive every spring, visitors should understand the impact of winter on the park, and appreciate the efforts and bravery of the hardworking road crew.

 

  Images and text courtesy of National Park Service.

 

 


 

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