The first time I saw Crater Lake it took my breath away. The water is so blue and would be a color hard to replicate. Then I saw an island called Wizard Island.
The Park is easy to navigate and basically drive in a circle around Crater Lake using Rim Drive (about 33 miles). One of the first things we saw on our drive was the Phantom Ship (another island on Crater Lake). Then we saw the Pumice Castle (looks like tall spires made from ash and pumice), Wizard Island and Crater Lake Lodge.
We also saw the Oregon Caves National Monument. A marble cave that one can tour (about a 90 minute tour) for a nominal fee. Please note the tour covers about 526 stairs – it was wet and slippery – wear a good pair of hiking boots!
The caves were discovered in the 1870’s when a local man hunting with his dog Bruno chased a bear into the caves. In the 1890’s the caves were opened to the public and in 1909 the caves were declared a U.S. National Monument which the U.S. Forest Service oversaw until 1933 when it was transferred to the National Park Service. When you tour the caves the guide will point out grizzly bear fossils as well as point out that the caves have the largest number of cave dwelling insects in the U.S.
Fun Fact: The grounds include a Douglas fir tree with the widest known girth in Oregon at 13 feet in diameter. There is hiking trails available. There is four primary historic buildings – The Oregon Caves Chateau (guest services, coffee shop, dining, gift shop, and overnight lodging), The Ranger Residence, The New Chalet, and the Employee Dormitory.
The Oregon Caves National Monument can be located by taking Grants Pass to Cave Junction to Oregon Caves Highway 46. Word of Caution: The monument is a little hike from the parking lot so make sure you have everything you need before setting off from the parking lot to the monument.