When going on a trip there are several types of places you can stay: The hotel that is rest area for your adventures, the nice spa and resort where you go to relax and the destination lodge, where you are right on top of the action.
The Crater Lake Lodge, located on the rim of Crater Lake, is all three wrapped into one.
It would be enough that the lodge, which was built in 1915 and remodeled in 1995, is perched on the rim above the lake and really has breath taking views from where ever you end up in the lodge. But the service, food, rooms and other amenities make this an excellent stay even if it wasn’t located next to one of Oregon’s most popular tourist attractions.
“The lake is the attraction, but we work hard to make sure our guests have a good visit too,” said Charles Willis, general manager.
Since the lodge is located in a national park, and a historic site, you aren’t going to find jet tubs, steam rooms or even televisions. What you are going to find is a great stay in a lodge that is surrounded by things to do.
You can take a boat ride on the lake, hike the many trails, or simply sit on the deck and read a book with the picturesque scenery as a backdrop. While they don’t offer electronic keycards to open room doors, the old keys bring a certain sense of that you are staying in a piece of history.
There is a section of the lodge, off the great hall, that is a small area about the history of the lodge and crater lake, with artifacts like a small museum. For any history buffs, this is a great window in the past.
When you read through the history of the lodge, and how construction started in 1907 and didn’t end until 1915, you start to appreciate just how hard it was to get the lodge built in an area that sees more than 10-feet of snow each winter.
“Last week we got 15-inches of snow in two days,” said Jennifer English, lodge manager. “Up here, our season is short so we make the most of it.”
There are more than 250 seasonal employees that work at the lodge and surrounding properties and they even live on site at a dormitory that is located a few hundred yards away. There are staff that stay year-long to keep an eye on the lodge and do maintenance work.
The lodge is usually open from mid-May until October, and that is very weather dependent. Reservations for the 73-room lodge run a year in advance, so if you want to stay, book early. The park sees more than 500,000 visitors a year, and when I visited in early June, it was already 87-percent booked for the rest of the season. Many people opt to stay just overnight, and then drive into Bend for an extended stay. However, the lodge would offer a peaceful getaway, especially if you embrace the ‘get away from it all’ atmosphere.
While cell phone coverage is spotty at best, the lodge does offer free Wi-Fi, so you aren’t completely cut off from the world. Walking through the halls you can see people sitting in window seats with iPads and books enjoying the ambiance of the building.
The lodge is also located close to the Crater Lake Village, which has a gift shop and restaurant. It is open year round and there are snow shoe tours and other tourist activities available, but be prepared for a lot of snow and winter driving.
It would be incomplete to not also mention the restaurant and its amazing menu of Oregon-themed foods. With great views, it’s an attraction on its own, as you don’t have to be staying at the lodge to enjoy a lunch or dinner. If you don’t have the opportunity to stay at the lodge, visiting the restaurant is a great consolation prize.
“During the shoulder season, late May and early June, the temperatures can be in the mid-60s and it clear,” Willis said. “It’s the best place in the world, in my opinion.”
About Crater Lake Lodge: Truly a grand northwest lodge, the historic 71-room Crater Lake Lodge originally opened in 1915 and is located on the edge of the caldera overlooking Crater Lake. The lodge was reopened after extensive renovation in 1995 and offers an atmosphere reminiscent of the 1920s and immerses visitors in its rustic charm. A sense of awe comes over you as you enter through the main entrance and view the boldly stated fireplace in the Great Hall. Each room provides the expected hotel standards of comfort, privacy and service. Immerse yourself in the history that surrounds you by visiting the Exhibit Room just off the lobby. The Crater Lake Lodge dining room overlooks the lake and serves the finest northwest regional cuisine.
What to bring: As with all things Oregon, make sure to dress appropriately. It may be warm in LaPine or Bend, but remember you are almost 2,000 feet high and even though it is 70-degrees out, there still could be snow on the ground.
Tip: To make sure you get a room at the lodge, the safe bet is to book at least a year in advance.
Season: Late May to October.
Getting there: Crater Lake National Park is located in Southern Oregon on the crest of the Cascade Mountain Range. It is 100 miles east of the Pacific Ocean, 110 miles from the California border on I-5, and halfway between Bend to the north and Klamath Falls to the south on Highway 97.
From the Southeast
Take Highway 97 north to Highway 62, just north of Klamath Falls at Chiloquin.
Follow Highway 62 to the Annie Springs Entrance Station.
From Central Oregon
Take Highway 138 West or Highway 97 south (the Diamond Lake cutoff) to the North Park Entrance (late June through October) or to Highway 62 (October through late June).
From Roseburg, take Highway 138 East to the North Park Entrance (late June through October) or to Highway 62 (October through late June).
From Medford, take Highway 62 to the Annie Springs Entrance Station.
By Patrick Johnson