My friends and I have had Crater Lake National Park on our Oregon-centric bucket list for years. With a few of them headed off for graduate school at the end of the summer, there was no time like the present to check that one off. Here’s the thing though: on a good day Crater Lake is about 4.5 hours away from Portland and while I can rock out to Oops I did It Again and A Thousand Miles in the car for a few hours at a time, even I have my limits.
Enter the Air BnB! Even on Memorial Day weekend it was crazy affordable. And cute. An odd mix of cowboy chic and snowy Norwegian aesthetic but super comfy.
This is definitely not a room full of adults watching old school Bill Nye.
We chose to drive down Friday night because leaving the city on Saturday morning of a 3-day weekend has been bumper-to-bumper torture before. A+ decision too, I cannot recommend it enough!
Here comes the not so fun part, heavy on the avoid-at-all-costs advice. We got a slow start on Saturday (but did in fact make a delicious breakfast so #WorthIt) and hit the road around 10am.
Just look at that, it’s a work of art and I barely even had to help make it.
Did you know that snow exists in months outside of December and January in many places? Look, I’m an Arizona gal originally and I’m still making the adjustment 9 years later.
You probably can’t tell but that is just a wall of snow the size of a person. What.
It turns out that one of the entrances to Crater Lake is closed most of the year due to snow. Oh, and the other entrance is…about an hour and a half away. Lesson learned!
Alright, we’re back on the road and we make it to the other entrance. Well, almost. There’s a line of cars about 3 miles long to get through the tollbooth at this point in the day. All the people who drove from the city have arrived. It’s a parking lot. Instead of spending the next few hours sitting on our admittedly sore bums watching our fuel tank tick down to empty (man those gas stations are few and far between out there), we turn around and decide to hit up Diamond Lake. It’s on the way back to our Air BnB and many reviews I’ve seen extol the virtues of this place as a great destination for families.
Look, it’s pretty!
Oh, but friends. What you cannot see is the actual wall of gnats and mosquitoes. They. Are. Everywhere. The air is so thick with them you can’t even walk without running into hundreds of them with each step. Oh, and to top it off we forgot the pump to our inflatable kayak at home so there was very little fun to be had standing on the lakefront trying to keep the bugs out of, well, everything.
Am I hiding in the car? Probably.
We head back to the house, drink roughly a bottle of wine each, and chill for the rest of the evening with Netflix like true Millennials.
But don’t worry, we have thoroughly learned our lesson at this point and Crater Lake: The Squeaquel goes off without a hitch! We leave early on Sunday, arrive at the right entrance to no line at all, and are greeted with this breathtaking view.
I can’t even tell you how beautiful this place is. Even though you don’t get to do much more than stand on a precarious snow bank and look down at the lake it’s honestly worth the trek. The colors seem so crisp and pristine. They don’t allow most boats onto the lake except for a scheduled one out to Wizard Island, so it’s just this deep, blue mirror.
My friend approaches me in the gift shop and utters the only words that could have made this day even better: “There’s an In N Out not far from here, want to stop by on the way home?” Now, I worked at this fine food establishment in high school and let me tell you, I miss eating there every damn day of my life. What’s another hour of driving when an animal style double-double is in your future?
If you decide to put this one on your own bucket list (and you should) I hope this helps! Learn from our mistakes and have a most excellent tip!
Special thanks to my friends, Julianne, Liz & Jossef for use of their photos from the trip!