During our visit to Crater Lake National Park, we decided to stay in the nearby town of Klamath Falls, Oregon. After driving nearly all day, we arrived and checked into our hotel around 4:30 pm, prepared to spend the entire next day exploring the national park. But then we realized that because it’s summer, we still had nearly five hours of daylight left…
Never ones to miss an opportunity to see more or do more, we jumped back in the truck and headed to Crater Lake. This was a great opportunity to get the lay of the land in advance, see some of the sights, and knock a few of the more crowded touristy stops off our to do list!
By the time we reached the rim of the lake, the sun was already beginning its descent. But it didn’t matter. The panoramic views of Crater Lake were absolutely incredible and it just made us even more excited to come back the next day and explore the scenic Rim Drive, pinnacles, wildflower trails, fossilized lava vents, and waterfalls.
We used this extra “bonus” evening time to take in the views from the Sinnott Memorial Overlook, check out the historic hotel, browse the museum exhibits, and stop in the Rim Village Gift Shop and Rim Village Cafe. We also played in the snow… Yes, even in late July, we got to play in the snow!
Perched on the southwestern rim of the Crater Lake caldera in Oregon’s only national park, the seasonal Crater Lake Lodge has been an area landmark since 1915.
With big bold fireplaces, rich warm hues, and rustic furnishings, the charming, cozy lodge has a historic 1920s feel. It was fully renovated in 1995 and has 71 guest rooms — all just a little different. The thing is, however, not all rooms have showers — some rooms only have a bathtub — and while you can request a room with a shower when making a reservation, it is not guaranteed. For that reason alone, there is no way we could stay there.
I have WAY TOO MUCH hair for that!
After checking out the interior of the beautiful Great Hall and peeking in the Crater Lake Lodge Dining Room, which has gorgeous views of the lake, we walked through the hotel’s ground floor exhibits on tourism and the history and renovation of the lodge. We then wandered out the big double doors to the lodge’s world-famous back terrace that overlooks the lake 1,000 feet below. Adirondack chairs that line the overlook make it the perfect spot to enjoy light afternoon snacks and drinks and stunning lake views.
Crater Lake Lodge History
William Gladstone Steel accompanied the first U.S. Geological Survey expedition to Crater Lake in 1886. Awestruck by the lake’s clear blue waters, Steel lobbied for the creation of Crater Lake National Park. In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt signed the bill making it the nation’s sixth national park. Steel was responsible for naming numerous Crater Lake geological landmarks like Wizard Island, Llao Rock, and Skell Head.
In 1909, Steel convinced Portland developer Alfred Parkhurst to begin construction of a lodge on the rim of the Crater Lake. Construction was kept very simple: the exterior was covered in tar-paper, the interior walls were finished with a thin cardboard-like wallboard, there were no private bathrooms, and the only electricity came from a small generator. The lodge opened in 1915 and even with a lack of amenities, tourists flocked to the lodge to take in the spectacular views.
In 1922, a two year upgrade project began that doubled the number of guest rooms and added private bathrooms in the new rooms. A lack of money, however, left many of the rooms unfinished and during the Great Depression, visitation to the park decreased and lodge maintenance suffered.
In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps built Rim Village near the lodge and the National Park Service paved the lodge parking areas and adjacent walkways. But during World War II, both Crater Lake National Park and the Crater Lake Lodge closed to the public. When the war ended, tourism increased but the lodge operator didn’t maintain the building beyond bare minimum.
Even though the National Park Service acquired Crater Lake Lodge in 1967 and it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981, the building continued to deteriorate due to lack of funds. The National Park Service actually planned to demolish the building but after public backlash, decided to rebuild it instead.
In 1989, just before the summer season began, structural engineers told the National Park Service that the Great Hall was at risk of collapsing from its own weight. Faced with the reality that the lodge was unsafe, the park service closed the lodge. Renovations began in 1991 and was completed in the fall of 1994. Crater Lake Lodge finally reopened for the summer season in 1995.
Know Before You Go
- Crater Lake Lodge in Crater Lake National Park is located at 565 Rim Drive, Klamath Falls, Oregon 97604.
- The 71 room lodge is open seasonally from late-May through mid-October.
- There are no phones or televisions in the guest rooms and not all rooms have showers. Some only have bathtubs!
- The lodge has exhibits on tourism and the history and renovation of the hotel on the ground floor, west of the lobby.
- The National Park Service acquired the lodge in 1967. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1981. In 1994, a $15 million renovation was completed to bring the building up to modern safety standards.
- The only lodging in Crater Lake National Park is at the historic Crater Lake Lodge or in the cabins or campgrounds at Mazama Village.
- At 1,943 feet deep, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States and the principal feature of Crater Lake National Park.
- Good for seven days, admissions fees are $30.00/vehicle, $25.00/motorcycle in the summer and $15.00/motorcycle in the winter, and $15.00/pedestrian or bicycle.
- The 33 mile Rim Drive that travels around Crater Lake’s caldera features spectacular views of the lake and interpretive signage at all of the main vista points.