Trip number 5, and somehow our first trip in 2022, was to Crater Lake National Park.
Crater Lake is in Southern Oregon, and like so many places in this beautiful state, there are like 2 roads that will get you there. We picked the half-interstate, half-two lane road option, getting off I-5 around Eugene and heading east to the park. Even with highway driving, it was almost 5 hours to get to the park.
Thanks to Debbie's military service, we had free entrance to the national park, and thanks to Oregon Sno-Parks, we had a free spot to camp since it's off-season.
We got to Crater Lake, tooled around and then went to find our camping spot.
The park was fairly crowded in the amenity areas - places to get gas or food or a bathroom. But once we were on trails or enjoying the many overlooks, we felt like we had the place to ourselves.
We picked Annie Creek Sno-Park which is about 6 miles south of the park, proper. The main Sno-Park is a large paved lot with toilets and a warming shed for skiers and snowmobilers to use, for a fee, in the winter months.
From May 1st through October 31st, it's free for anyone to use. We followed the kinda rough road off the paved area and into a car camper's dream.
This was the view from the van:
We got the best spot of the half dozen or so spots. There was only one other car the day that we camped.
It was a great spot - the quiet babbling of the creek, the gently swaying trees all around us. It was cool in the shade, but that was a nice change from the 90 degree days we were having in Portland.
We had a lovely, simple dinner and a nice bottle of 14 Hands cabernet.
The next morning, as we were enjoying a cup of pour-over coffee and sourdough rolls (because it was Sunday morning and we always have sourdough rolls on Sunday morning!), we heard a distant pack of baying hounds. It was a little alarming because we could not determine their location, but the sound never got close.
After making sure we looking presentable, which in vanlife means using the tinted windows as a makeshift mirror, we headed back to the park to spend the day exploring.
We saw so much beauty! It's impossible to describe how blue the sky was, how clear the lake water, how inviting the birdsong.
We hiked through a trail called Godfrey Glen that was beautiful and deserted. It gave us views of Annie Creek before it became the gentle creek that we'd slept beside. We saw a doe and two fawns having a quiet breakfast.
We had lunch at a pull off overlooking the valley, and then took a leisurely drive home.