One Year in the Rogue Valley - Page 6
Our recommendations of fascinating places to see in southern Oregon
Holding the record for deepest lake in the United Sates at 1,943 feet, Crater Lake is a must see when in southern Oregon. Park staff labor four months to clear winter snow from the rim, and by the first of June the park is open to visitors.
Panorama of Crater Lake as seen from Garfield Peak
Filling the collapsed volcanic crater of Mount Mazama, the deep blue surface of Crater Lake is at 6,174 feet of elevation, a thousand feet below the rim. On a calm day, the smooth lake reflects the surrounding peaks and sky with a nearly perfect mirror image.
Our first visit to the lake was on June 6-th. A good amount of snow remained, especially on north-facing slopes. The parking lot, lodge, and lookouts are all above 7,000 feet of elevation, making a light jacket required even in summer.
Snow is plentiful in June on this north-facing slope of the crater, just below the lodge.
From the Medford area, the lake is about a two hour drive away, accessible by highway 62, then following signs to the park. Shortly after entering the park gates, look for the information center on the left. Many people, eager to get to the rim and see the lake, pass up a visit to the information center. We recommend that you stop and sit through the twenty minute video that explains the formation of the lake and the fascinating process of snow removal—well worth the time.
At the rim the main attraction is the lake. We spent hours looking at it from many angles and taking pictures. Along the parking lot and behind the lodge are walled lookouts, but visitors are free to walk further to unimproved sections of the rim. If you do this, use extreme caution because the slopes are very steep and there are no safety devices whatsoever—one slip and you won't stop for a thousand feet.
This narrow section of the trail leading up to Garfield Peak has a nearly vertical drop-off on the lake side.
To see a unique perspective of the lake, consider taking the hiking trail past the lodge to the nearby Garfield Peak, standing at 8,054 feet. I suggest allowing three hours for the round trip. My brother-in-law and I had underestimated the distance to the peak and told our family we will be back in twenty minutes. Once we realized that the trail was much longer, we were almost running to make the round trip in an hour and half. The trail starts out easy to moderate, then becomes steeper toward the top; nothing too strenuous that an average adult in reasonable physical condition could not handle. The trail has several narrow passes flanked by almost vertical drops, so those afraid of heights should pass on this one.
A Wonderful Place to Visit
In addition to the places I have mentioned in this article, we have seen many other sights in and near the Rogue Valley, including several day trips to the Pacific coast. Most natural places in Oregon are pristine; suitable for the best outdoors, fishing, or travel magazine cover.
Pacific coastline near Brookings in southern Oregon, about a three hour drive from the Rogue Valley.
In summary, the valley offers the following in the summer: gorgeous, sunny days with comfortable evenings; mountains of every size; lush forests; cool, clear streams and rivers filled with trout; Crater Lake nearby; rugged ocean coast, close enough for day trips; proximity to the redwoods of northern California; waterfalls; kayaking and rafting; and plenty of quaint little towns for shopping and dining.
Access to most destinations is available by RV. The valley welcomes and caters to recreational vehicles; it is host to several RV dealerships and numerous year-round RV parks.
You like the outdoors? We think you will love southern Oregon's Rogue Valley!