A long detour brings me to Crater Lake. I imagine the drive would be more beautiful at other times during the year. In August, central Oregon is dry and hot and for the most part uneventful. Yet, even in August there are roaring rivers with cascading waterfalls on some turnoffs nearing the lake. The Rouge River is always cold and has a pleasant turquoise color. I stop to dip my feet in.
Once I make it to Crater Lake I find a campground at the base of the ridge and spend the night. I figure the lake will be better photographed in the morning light, and I’m very tired.
For those who don't know, I‘ll give a little history. Thousands of years ago, Crater Lake was a volcano and the tallest point in Oregon. During a time of great tectonic activity, with earthquakes and frequent erruptions, the subsurface below the volcano became unstable. It collapsed under the volcano and the center of the mountain sunk deep into the earth’s surface, leaving behind the “crater” which once was the base of the mountain, and Wizard’s Island, which once was the top of the volcano. The crater filled with rainwater and melted snow over time and at it’s deepest is nearly 2,000 feet deep. The Native American’s version involves a spirit living inside the volcano who wanted the beautiful Chief's daughter to marry him and live in his volcanic underworld. When the medicine men denied him his desire, the volcanic erruptions began and the earth shook until the mountain crumbled in upon itself. In despiration, the medicine men sacrificed themself to the volcano and then the terror ended and the mountain became a lake.
Crater Lake has to be one of the best National Parks to explore solely by car. The rim road takes you all around the lake with ample turnoffs for photography. There are trails to higher viewpoints and a boat cruise that can take you to Wizard island, but it’s too darn hot for such a steep climb. And anyway I figure, the scene from the rim is plenty good enough.
The road back is more lush than the road in, with tall shaded pine tree mountains and beautiful waterfalls.