Crater Lake National Park

We planned to spend a day or two at Crater Lake National Park on the way South to California and entered the Park at the North end. It was a cloudy day but we were not prepared for the weather we encountered as we drove the West Rim to the top. Temperatures dropped below 40 (snow forecast), visibility 10 yards, and we couldn’t see much further than the precipice edge. At the top we encountered road resurfacing / rebuilding, and hardly saw the flagman enforcing one way traffic. Lake views were not likely so we carried on to Mazama village and were happy to get a ‘first come first served’ campsite there.

Crater Lake is an amazing geological formation. Like Yellowstone, it was formed as a ‘Caldera’ after a volcanic eruption emptied a huge void underground and the earth’s surface collapsed into it. It is a much smaller Caldera (6 miles in diameter compared with 40 miles) than Yellowstone. The Yellowstone Caldera was formed from three ‘super volcano’ eruptions, the most recent 630,000 years ago. However, the Crater Lake Caldera was formed only about 7,000 years ago when Mount Mazama erupted over several days and the earth collapsed into the void over only several hours. It’s very possible that the Klamath Native American tribe witnessed this phenomenon as there are tales of a cataclysmic event in their cultural history.

The crater cooled and has filled with rain and snowfall over several hundred years to the current depth of about 2,000 feet, containing some of the purest natural water in the world. This explains the amazing deep blue color of the lake with its aquamarine edges. There is no water outfall from the Lake. The lake bottom is still active volcanically and future eruptions are very possible.

We ended up spending 4 nights, waiting for the storm to pass and eventually experienced a beautiful day when we drove the East Rim in two sections as the middle was closed for avalanche damage repair. Colin took one of the trails down from the rim to the lake shore and back and we visited Vidae Falls in the early evening.
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  • Crater Lake

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    Mazama Village, Crater Lake National Park, OR

  • We decided to stop at Bend, Oregon on our way Southwest to California and spent most of our time at the High Desert Museum followed by a scenic tour over to the West side of the Cascade Mountains and back.

    High Desert Museum

    Mare and Foal made from Barbed Wire!

    This is a privately run non-profit, well-appointed and maintained museum covering the wildlife and history of this area. We enjoyed meeting the Birds of Prey, Otters, and Cheryl particularly enjoyed the Indian Nations of the Columbia River Plateau exhibit.

    Birds of Prey

    The birds of prey are not caged but are free to roam. All of them have a reason to be there, whether because of an injury or having been born in captivity. An easy source of food keeps them in the area and the demonstration we saw showed how they can be trained to show off their hunting skills.
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    Otters

    We found a pair of Otters living in a pool and waterfall area simulating the environment they would experience in the wild.
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    From Cheryl: My Love of Indian Art

    The traditional clothing and jewelry were magnificent and amazing in detail. I just loved what the art represented, both the practical and the ornate. To think of the hours spent creating these pieces is mind boggling. But then, winter was an opportunity to create and tell family stories, passing along skills and history to the next generation.
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    Cascade Mountains

    We took a ‘scenic tour’ in our van over the top of the Cascade Range NW of Bend via the town of Sisters to the West side of the mountains where we found Tumalo Falls. We then traveled back via the tortuous and narrow Old McKenzie Highway over the summit back to Sisters. The extent of (historically) recent volcanic remains we found as we traveled over the summit surprised us and it was interesting to see the trees and vegetation gradually reclaiming their environment.
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  • Bend, Oregon

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    Museum of the Hight Desert, Bend, Oregon

  • Alternative Routes 

    Leaving the Tetons with a date to spend July 4th weekend with Martha and Doug (Lane) Peterson in McCall, Idaho, we had only a couple of days to explore Southern Idaho. The Snake River Canyon and Shoshone Falls at Twin Falls was our planned stopover. As usual, we ignored our van’s GPS ‘fastest route’ and went for a longer, more interesting journey. We climbed out of Jackson Hole through the Teton Pass and dropped down to a cross country route through part of Idaho’s ‘High Desert’. We met a couple of surprises on the way. The route was straight and deserted for many miles until we started to see signs for ‘INL’ and ‘EBR1’. Our map was no help but we did notice a signpost to ‘Atomic City’ just to our left and a lot of power lines going towards ‘INL’ on our right. We pulled in to the ‘EBR1’ National Historical Landmark not knowing what to expect. It turned out to be the site of America’s first installation to produce electricity from Atomic Energy, known as Experimental Breeder Reactor 1. We had a fascinating tour of the installation, learning how this research installation first produced 200KW of electrical power in 1951. It is now a part of the Idaho National Laboratory – ‘INL’ (previously Argonne National Labs, which I would have recognized).
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    Craters

    Not far down the road, we took a side trip to visit Craters of the Moon National Monument and were Nature taking overfascinated by the unusual black rocky landscape and the extent of the remains of over 60 solidified lava flows and 25 volcanic cones, most recently active only 2,000 years ago. It was very interesting to see how the area was gradually turning back to nature with trees and vegetation seeming to sprout out of the rocky areas. There is a campground there but Cheryl was a bit spooked by the odd-looking black rocky campsites so we traveled on to Twin Falls.
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    Twin Falls 

    By far the most dramatic feature in Twin Falls is the Snake River Canyon that threads its way through the center of town with many accessible walking trails. At the head of this section, east of town, are the Shoshone Falls. The falls are 45 feet higher than Niagara Falls, flow is now restricted by the Idaho Power’s Shoshone Falls Dam. At its full flow, water spills over the whole horseshoe rock cliff. At reduced flows (see photos below and movie at the bottom) the flow splits into several waterfalls. In addition to generating power at the dam, water is also diverted upstream to irrigate ‘Magic Valley’.
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  • Twin Falls

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    Shoshone Falls, Snake River Canyon at Twin Falls, ID

  • McCall, Idaho July 4th 

    Following our usual practice, instead of the quickest route via Boise, we took a longer route to McCall, traveling North to Ketchum (near Sun Valley), North-West to Stanley and then followed the South Fork of the Payette River, a popular rafting area, to join the Boise-McCall road at Banks. We were rewarded with some magnificent mountain and valley scenery as we passed through the Sawtooth and Boise National Forests. We enjoyed our stay in McCall, watching fireworks over the lake on the 4th, and visiting ‘Charlie’s Garden’ (see next section below).
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    Charlie’s Garden

    Our friend Martha gave us a real treat by taking us to see ‘Charlie’s Garden’ in McCall, a beautifully designed hillside garden by the lake just outside McCall. It took a while to find it, a very well kept secret now that the sign is no longer visible. Created by the famous landscape designer and plantsman, Charlie Davidson, it is maintained by his heirs and is ‘a quiet, tranquil perennial paradise in the mountains of Idaho’. As Colin wasn’t ‘carrying’ that morning, the pictures are all from Cheryl’s iPhone. Before taking off for Oregon the next morning, we returned to Boise on the 5th and met the rest of the family, including grandson Harrison.
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  • McCall, Idaho

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    McCall, Idaho

  • Shoshone Falls Movie