July 18-20, 2011 – Upper Rogue River and Crater Lake National Park

We left Doug and Barb’s Monday morning, July 18th and headed southwest to the Crater Lake area.  We got as far as Redmond (less than 20 miles from their house) and Rex had a rear-end accident with the truck and 5th wheel.  A motorhome pulling a boat cut in front of the car that was driving in front of Rex and that car slammed on his brakes.  As most of you know a truck pulling a 5th wheel can’t stop as fast as a car.  Luckily Rex was only going about 10-15 miles per hour so the impact wasn’t too bad.  Nancy was following in the Jeep and just thought that Rex had stopped for the stop light.  The man driving the Lincoln Towncar Rex hit complained of neck pain so he was transported to the hospital.  Rex and Camille & Cody were not injured.  The front bumper on the truck has a big dent in it and we will have to get it replaced.  

The Lincoln also had a bashed in back bumper but didn’t look like it had any other damage.  The police had Rex move the truck and 5th wheel out of the highway and when he pulled into an Albertson’s parking lot down a side street there sat the motorhome that caused the accident.  The policeman finished the accident report and then parked his car behind the motorhome until that driver came out of the store.  Rex was not cited but we are assuming the motorhome driver got a ticket.  We are just thankful that no one was seriously hurt and even Cody, our nervous rider, came through with flying colors.  Some things got rearranged in the 5th wheel but not as bad as we thought it would be.  After a delay of about 1½ hours we were on our way again.

We had a beautiful drive through the Cascade Range even though it rained all day.  We are staying at Crater Lake RV Park in Prospect, OR about 30 miles south of Crater Lake.  It is a nice RV park in the trees and has a short path to the Rogue River and a small lake.

Tuesday, the 19th was overcast and rainy so we decided to wait a day or so for clear weather to go to Crater Lake.  Instead we drove along the Upper Rogue River.  We hiked a beautiful trail that went along the river.

We hiked to the Natural Bridge where the Rogue River disappears into a lava tube.  Although the river normally flows through the lava tube, seasonal flooding may cause it to cover the Natural Bridge - like it is today.  We are standing above the inlet looking toward the Natural Bridge.

After going into the lave tube the water takes 35 seconds to travel 200 feet to the tube’s outlet.  It is hard to see in this picture but the outlet is at the top center of this picture.

Down the road a few miles we stopped at the Rogue River Gorge Viewpoint.

The Rogue Gorge forms a chasm 500 feet long and narrows to 25 feet across.

While we were here it starting pouring rain and we got soaked hiking back to the Jeep.

We decided to quit hiking and drove to Eagle Point where we stopped at the Butte Creek Mill.  This mill was built in 1872 and is still being used to grind grain.  It uses a water turbine instead of a water wheel to turn the grinding stone.  Unfortunately, the mill was not operating the day we visited.

The owners had quite a collection of antiques of all kinds. It was like visiting a general store in the 1800’s.

Of course, they also had a store where they sold all kinds of ground grain products, along with wine, baking mixes, spices, jams and jellies.  We bought some grits, granola, molasses and a bottle of wine.  It is so nice to be able to buy items with no preservatives in them.

Wednesday the sun was shining and the sky was clear so we drove to Crater Lake National Park. Crater Lake National Park was established in 1902 and protects the deepest lake in the US (1,943 feet deep).  Fed by rain and snow (but no rivers or streams), the lake is considered to be the cleanest large body of water in the world.  The water is exceptional for its clarity and intense blue color.  The lake rests inside a caldera formed approximately 7,700 years ago when a 12,000 ft tall volcano collapsed following a major eruption.

Crater Lake received 673 inches (more than 56 ft) of snow this past winter.  The last time they had more than 600 inches of snow was in 1998-99.  The statistics in the park newspaper show that in the early 1930’s and early 1950’s they received more than 800 inches but that the average snowfall has been declining since and has been around 500 inches for the past 5 decades.  Consequently, about half of the rim drive is still closed.  After a stop at the Visitor Center we started on the East Rim Drive and stopped at Vidae Falls.

The road was closed at Sun Notch Trail so we stopped and hiked through the snow to the rim.  Our first view of beautiful Crater Lake - it takes your breath away!  We are so fortunate to have a nice clear, sunny day.

We hiked a short distance along the rime to a view of Phantom Ship, an island that resembles a small pirate ship.  The island is as tall as a 16-story building and the erosion-resistant rock is 400,000 years old – the oldest exposed rock within the caldera.

These kids were having a great time sledding in the snow by the parking lot.

We drove on the West Rim Drive and stopped at Watchman Overlook for this great view of Wizard Island.  Wizard Island is cinder cone near the southwest shore and got its name because it is shaped like a sorcerer’s pointed hat.  Wizard Island erupted out of the lake about 7,300 years ago and features a 90-ft-deep crater in its summit.

This formation on the crater rim is called The Devil’s Backbone.

Another beautiful view of the lake from the West Rim Drive.  We stopped at many overlooks just to take in the beauty of this lake.

The road was closed at Cleetwood Cove Trail which is the only legal access to the shore of Crater Lake and is the trail to the dock for the boat tours (unfortunately the boat tours have not opened yet).   It is a very steep trail, descending 700 ft to the water in about 1.1 miles.  We decided not to hike down today but, hopefully they will open the boat tours this weekend and we will come back if they do.

July 20th and there are still some pretty good sized snow drifts along the road.

Crater Lake is beautiful and we would really like to come back when everything is open.


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