I left Bend two Thursdays ago, skipping the mosquitoes at Diamond Lake and seeing if I could find a campsite at Crater Lake National Park.
Ninety miles later I arrived.
I arrived about 10:30am and the West Rim Drive was already packed. I stopped at Watchman Overlook to check out the lake.
Yep, there are still some remnants of snow up here in August. It gets over 500 inches yearly. So after shoving a few tourists away from the railing I took three photos. In order they are looking NE, E, and SE. You can see Wizard Island clearly in the middle one.
How did a mountain become a lake. Fire, baby. A massive volcanic eruption 7,700 years ago blew the top off. Centuries of rain and snow filled it up. Evaporation balances the lake level and no rivers flowing in means hardly any sediment. The result is a deep blue lake with unmatched color and clarity, the deepest lake in the United States at 1943 feet.
Why is the lake so blue you ask? Simple. Other colors of the spectrum are absorbed. Blue wavelengths are scattered and seen by the human eye.
Alrighty. I left the crowds and headed for a campground. There are two here in the park. Mazama with over 200 sites and Lost Creek with 16. Neither one is near the lake. I stopped at Mazama.
At first the ranger told me they were full but then someone checked out as I was walking away and she called me back. The reservation system is strange here. 75% of the sites are reservable but are not site specific.You reserve by RV type. Starting with a tent site and progressing in length. 6 different ones all together. The site posts are color coded to match the different sizes. Some sites have electricity. The computer knows how many of each type are left and the color is written on your post tag. Then you drive around and look for a matching open site. Sounds like a system designed by committee.
I found the open spot and set up camp.
This is not a destination campground, meaning people do not hang around the campground during the day. The lake is almost 7 miles away. I was able to walk it and take photos while it was almost empty. I decided to only stay for one night. I was on the road by 7:00am so I did some exploring while people were snoring.
I headed towards the East Rim wanting to visit the other campground before I left. I passed a pretty little waterfall but I don’t remember the name of it.
Continuing east there are some neat views looking south.
This is a primitive campground with vault toilets no showers or store or restaurant like Mazama. But it did have mosquitoes.
If I was going to stay in this area for week long camping trip I would stay up the road at Newberry National Volcanic Monument at a campsite right on the lake shore. It’s only 1 1/2 hours away which makes for an easy day trip to drive the 33 mile Rim Road and take in the views. There is no lake access at Crater except for a strenuous 2.2 mile hike at Cleetwood Cove. Newberry is also only 1/2 from Bend and all it’s attractions.
So I consulted my handy dandy camping guide and picked out a campground for three nights on the Rogue River about 50 miles SW. I called them up from a payphone at Mazama to check availability and was told that it was full, but there were two sites that didn’t take reservations and one was empty. I crossed my fingers and drove.
And got it. My luck was holding.
This 40 site campground is located on a very popular section of the Rogue River for family rafting. You will see what I mean in a bit. I set up camp by the river.
This section of river starts with a put in just below the dam at Lost Creek Lake and continues to the town of Shady Cove. The float lasts 3-4 hours. I sat in my green chair you can see in the photo above and watched people float by on Friday and Saturday. It was quite entertaining. The variety of boats was amazing.
Groups of boats.
Stand Up boats.
Even boats full of shanghai escort girls that almost had me jumping in the water.
Saturday night I drove up to Lost Creek Lake to view the sunset from a cliff.
I had planned to stay at Valley of the Rogue State Park for the next 4 nights as I had already made reservations. When I arrived there the temperature was 106 degrees and the campground was right next to Interstate 5. That did not work for me. Reading my camping guide I found this description of a place 40 miles SE. “Hyatt Lake is located 20 miles east of Ashland in Oregon’s beautiful Cascade Mountains. At 5200 feet in elevation, Hyatt offers a cool respite from the summer heat.” Sounded good to me.
This campground has something for every type of camper. There are 29 sites in the main loop which can handle most rigs. 16 more sites in the tent area that will fit small RV’s as well. 7 walk-in tent sites complete the main campground. One mile east you will find 12 primitive sites in addition to a 5 site horse camp. The nicest bathrooms I have seen on my trip are in the main campgrounds. Flush toilets and free showers that can actually get too hot. There are 2 boat ramps and a swim area. Fishing is said to be excellent.
Over half of the sites are on the lake. The photos above were taken 30 feet down a path from my site below.
And yes, I nabbed the last open campsite again. After an amazing shower on Friday I hung my towel out to dry.
Got some strange looks from people who obviously don’t have a built-in towel rack on their car.
Finally, here is a camping tip regarding dish and pan cleanup. Hot water makes it very easy to get off the grease and stuff. Sure you can buy portable hot water heaters, heat up water on your stove, or use your rigs hot water if so equipped. But I prefer using the sun. I have an old solar shower that I fill up and let soak in the sun for a few hours. The water will quickly get over 130 degrees.
Then I set it on my chuck box, pull up a chair, and using biodegradable soap give them a good cleaning.
Of course you do need the sun to accomplish this. Which is why my utensils have been greasy until the last few weeks. I am heading to Lassen National Park on Sunday for 4 nights and will try to find somewhere to post this along the way. However, as I sit at my campsite writing this with my computer plugged into an inverter in my car, my eyes are starting to water and I see a red haze in the sky. I also smell smoke which means there is a forest fire nearby. If you are reading this, I survived.
Regards, Park Ranger