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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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What happened to fall? Winter hits early at Crater Lake

 As we entered Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park in late September, it felt like we had skipped fall and gone immediately to winter.

A ferocious storm had dropped snow on the park, and while it was pretty, it was kind of a wake-up call. When we booked this trip last summer, we thought we’d be traveling through this geologic wonder in the midst of a temperate autumn, and instead -- snow!

We’re hardy -- we can deal. And it helps a lot  to have a warm rig and a full hookup, thanks to Diamond Lake RV Park north of Crater Lake where we stayed.

This rustic resort is situated just outside the national park on Umpqua National Forest land, and features an array of woodsy sites and best of all, full hookups. That’s a good thing when the temps dip into the 20s at night.

Beyond the creature comforts, Diamond Lake has its own attractions, including an excellent trout fishery and a very cool 11-mile bike paved recreation trail that circles the lake.

We hit the trail on our bikes and were wowed by the gorgeous twists and turns of the route, rivaling the best of the Centennial Trail. After a brisk ride around the lake, we tucked into the rig as the sleet descended and planned our time at Crater Lake.

On our first stormy day in the park, we got acquainted as best we could. With dark winter clouds shrouding the dramatic views of the lake, we headed to Rim Village and found a comfy refuge from the storm at  Crater Lake Lodge.

This historic lodge is among the most beautiful in all of the national parks. And on a stormy day, it was particularly inviting. Why not order breakfast?

Good choice. After pancakes, eggs, home fries and lots of coffee, things were looking a lot better.

We decided to do the 2.2-mile roundtrip hike from the crater rim down to Cleetwood Cove on the lake. And as we descended the 700 vertical feet from rim to water, the clouds even cooperated, lifting briefly to allow gorgeous views of the lake’s azure waters.

The next day, we returned to more freezing temps, but the sun was out. We took full advantage of having a traveling kitchen, as Leslie made breakfast tacos rim-side.

Later, we explored the park by foot and by wheel. Leslie did the scenic rim hike to Sun Notch to catch a view of Phantom Ship, one of the islands in the lake,, while John rode a challenging 10-mile chunk of the rim road to Mount Scott.

Winter might be descending at Crater Lake, but we managed to hold it off for this day at least.

Detour to Colorado

After Crater Lake, we are heading south and east. We had planned a week’s worth of visits to national parks in Nevada and Utah, but we’re skipping those to get vehicle service in Grand Junction, Colo. There’s nothing like seeing the “check engine” light when you first start a trip.

Winter weather. Vehicle issues. Who said the RV lifestyle was always going to be easy? As we said earlier -- we can deal.


Leslie Kelly
Leslie Kelly is a freelance writer.