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Bend To Crater Lake Back To Bend

Bend, Oregon

July 4, 2021

Took two days to do this round trip. Perhaps I should call it a circular trip because I came back a different way than I went as shown on the maps above. I drove down US 97 from Bend; I came back primarily on the Cascade Lakes Scenic Parkway (State Route 372).

I am tired not from anything physical but from taking in all that I see. It’s a different kind of “introversion” but the result is the same — I need time to recharge. That’s something I am not doing much of — I think it is harder to do when you are living out of your truck. It’s perhaps easier when I am not boondocking (fourth night in a row tonight). Blah, blah, blah. Just want to provide some color.

The circular trip was amazing. There is not much civilization between Bend and Crater Lake. US 97 is fairly straight and the road from US 97 to the entrance to Crater Lake National Park was laid out by an engineer who knew the shortest distance between two points is a line.

Upon leaving Bend, I soon came across the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. Given I spent much of my career managing geothermal power plants, I had to stop and see.

In November of 1990, Newberry National Volcanic Monument was created within the boundaries of Deschutes National Forest. Managed by the U.S. Forest Service, this monument provides a unique opportunity to view the Lava Lands of central Oregon. Newberry National Volcanic National Monument includes 54,000+ acres of lakes, lava flows, and spectacular geologic features in central Oregon. The highest point within the Monument is the summit Paulina Peak (7,985 ft.), showcasing views of the Cascades, Newberry Caldera and across the High Desert.

Although commonly referred to as Newberry Crater, the "crater" is in fact a caldera formed when the overlying rocks collapse when a magma chamber is emptied. The caldera stretches across 17 square miles in the heart of the volcano. The 1,200 square mile volcano (about the size of Rhode Island) remains very active to this day. Newberry is both seismically and geothermally active. Geologists believe the caldera sits over a shallow magma body only 2 to 5 kilometers deep. Visitors see numerous cinder cones and vents (over 400 throughout the area), miles of basalt flows, as well as rhyolite flows of obsidian.

Check out the size of the lava path

I was blown away that by the lava field. I did not expect to see such a sight in Oregon!

Also part of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument are a couple of crater lakes further south on US 97. See see Paulina Lake you drive a slightly improved forest service road to about 8,000 feet.

I really like this photo showing the man and the mountains. Sort of puts things in perspective.

By this time I am about 2.5 hours behind "schedule" -- whatever that means these days. So I jumped back on US 97 (getting to the lakes was about a 30 mile round trip detour -- but I am sure glad I did it!

Next photo stop was he town of Gilchrist. From Wikipedia:

Gilchrist was the last lumber company town in Oregon. The town was founded in 1938 by the family-owned Gilchrist Timber Company, with Frank and Mary Gilchrist as the owners and town founders. The mill moved there from Jasper County, Mississippi, in search of lumber and lower taxes, building a dam on the Little Deschutes River to create the mill pond. In 1939, Gilchrist School was built by the Public Works Administration.

The Gilchrist Mall was built in 1939. It was the first mall opened east of the Cascade Mountains. The mall included grocery store, post office, drugstore, barbershop, beauty parlor, liquor store, bowling alley, and a library. The mall also housed a club for Gilchrist Lumber Company employees. The club had a bar and lounge area, dance floor, pool tables, and a large meeting hall. While some of the businesses have changed over time, as of 2019 the mall buildings remain essentially unchanged.

The company was sold to Crown Pacific Partners in 1991, which subsequently fired all its employees. The 120 homes and other facilities in the town were subsequently sold to residents and others in 1997, with Crown Pacific retaining the sawmill and timberland. Prior to this sale, all houses in the town were painted in Gilchrist brown (with the exception of a small area on the north end of town called Rainbow Circle by its residents).[2] The timberland and the town's sawmill, upgraded to handle smaller logs in 2000, were among the last remaining assets of Crown Pacific, which declared bankruptcy in 2003 and was taken over by creditors at the end of 2004, and again bought by Canadian company Interfor Pacific in 2006. As of 2009, the kindergarten through twelfth grade school had an enrollment of 238 students.

Had a corn dog and a Doctor for lunch from the Gilchrist“mall.”

The next town I came to was Crescent -- which borders Grichrist.

Chemult is a tired little place except for one thing — a Pilot truck stop. There were dozens of cars getting petrol and dozens of people inside getting truck stop snacks — or a sub from Subway. The store had run out of ice earlier in the day much to many people’s frustration.

Here's Wikipedia's article on Chemult:

Chemult /ʃɛˈmoʊlt/ is an unincorporated community in Klamath County, Oregon, United States, on U.S. Route 97 near the drainage divide between the Klamath and Columbia Rivers. Chemult has a population of about 300 people. Chemult's elevation is 4,764 feet.

The locale was originally established in 1924 as a station on the Southern Pacific Cascade Line named "Knott" during construction. The station's name was changed to Chemult when the line opened in 1926 and a post office was established the same year.[2] The name Chemult comes from a Klamath chief who was one of the 26 who signed the Klamath Lake Treaty of October 14, 1864.

Amtrak's Coast Starlight stops in Chemult daily at the Chemult Amtrak station, and Redmond Airport Shuttle provides a bus connection from the train to Bend. There is also a Winema National Forest ranger station within the community.

The area around Chemult is commonly used for hiking, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, dog sled racing, fishing, and hunting. Chemult also offers the annual Sled Dog Races where mushers come to race their sled dogs and compete for cash prizes.

Volcanic rock is the "soil" in this area.

I left Bend at 730 am. It is six hours later and I am still not to Crater Lake -- two hours from Bend!

Rough times.

The road that takes you from US 97 to the entrance to the Crater Lake National Park:

I shouldn’t be surprised but at 2 pm there was a twenty-minute backup to get through the entrance to Crater Lake. And as I was to find out, there were already a lot of people in the park.

Here's a six-minute slideshow of my photos from inside the park. Im particularly proud of my music selections - Volcano by Buffett and Storm Warning by the Volcanoes. 😂

Finished up by 5 pm. Found a dispersed campsite in National Forest just north of Crater Lake.

This morning headed out to return by Cascade Lakes Scenic ByWay

Here's the Wikipedia entry on Crater Lake:

Crater Lake is a crater lake in south-central Oregon in the western United States. It is the main feature of Crater Lake National Park and is famous for its deep blue color and water clarity. The lake partly fills a nearly 2,148-foot-deep caldera that was formed around 7,700 years ago by the collapse of the volcano Mount Mazama. There are no rivers flowing into or out of the lake; the evaporation is compensated for by rain and snowfall at a rate such that the total amount of water is replaced every 250 years. With a depth of 1,949 feet the lake is the deepest in the United States. In the world, it ranks ninth for maximum depth, and third for mean (average) depth.

Crater Lake features two small islands. Wizard Island, located near the western shore of the lake, is a cinder cone approximately 316 acres in size. Phantom Ship, a natural rock pillar, is located near the southern shore.

The lake and surrounding park areas offer many recreational activities including hiking, biking, snowshoeing, fishing, and cross-country skiing are available, and during the summer, campgrounds and lodges at Crater Lake are open to visitors.


Crater Lake is in Klamath County, approximately 60 miles northwest of the county seat of Klamath Falls, and about 80 miles northeast of the city of Medford.

In June 1853, John Wesley Hillman became the first non-Native American explorer to report sighting the lake he named the "Deep Blue Lake." The lake was renamed at least three times, as Blue Lake, Lake Majesty, and finally Crater Lake.

Dimensions and depth

The lake is 5 by 6 miles across, with a caldera rim ranging in elevation from 7,000 to 8,000 feet and an average lake depth of 1,148 feet. The lake's maximum depth has been measured at 1,949 feet which fluctuates slightly as the weather changes.[ On the basis of maximum depth, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States, the second-deepest in North America (after Great Slave Lake in Canada), and the ninth-deepest lake in the world. Crater Lake is often cited as the seventh-deepest lake in the world, but this ranking excludes Lake Vostok in Antarctica, which is beneath about 13,000 feet of ice, and the recent depth soundings of O'Higgins/San Martín Lake, which is along the border of Chile and Argentina.

When considering the mean, or average depth of lakes, Crater Lake becomes the deepest lake in the Western Hemisphere and the third-deepest in the world. Crater Lake Institute Director and limnologist Owen Hoffman states "Crater Lake is the deepest, when compared on the basis of average depth among lakes whose basins are entirely above sea level. The average depths of Lakes Baikal and Tanganyika are deeper than Crater Lake; however, both have basins that extend below sea level.


Mount Mazama, part of the Cascade Range volcanic arc, was built up mostly of andesite, dacite, and rhyodacite over a period of at least 400,000 years. The caldera was created in a massive volcanic eruption between 6,000 and 8,000 years ago that led to the subsidence of Mount Mazama. About 12 cubic miles of rhyodacite was erupted in this event. Since that time, all eruptions on Mazama have been confined to the caldera.

Lava eruptions later created a central platform, Wizard Island, Merriam Cone, and other, smaller volcanic features, including a rhyodacite dome that was eventually created atop the central platform. Sediments and landslide debris also covered the caldera floor.

Eventually, the caldera cooled, allowing rain and snow to accumulate and form a lake. Landslides from the caldera rim thereafter formed debris fans and turbidite sediments on the lake bed. Fumaroles and hot springs remained common and active during this period. Also after some time, the slopes of the lake's caldera rim more or less stabilized, streams restored a radial drainage pattern on the mountain, and dense forests began to revegetate the barren landscape. It is estimated that about 720 years was required to fill the lake to its present depth of 1,949 feet. Much of this occurred during a period when the prevailing climate was less moist than at present.

Some hydrothermal activity remains along the lake floor, suggesting that at some time in the future, Mazama may erupt once again.


Crater Lake features a subalpine climate, with the rare dry-summer type (Köppen classification Dsc) owing to its high elevation and – like all of Oregon – the strong summer influence of the North Pacific High. In the summer, the weather is mild and dry, but in the winter is cold and the powerful influence of the Aleutian Low allows for enormous snowfalls averaging 505 inches per year and maximum snow cover averaging 139 in. This snow does not usually melt until mid-July, and allows for substantial glaciers on adjacent mountains. In the winter of 1949/1950 as much as 885.1 inches of snow fell, while the less complete snow cover records show cover as high as 192 in occurred during another particularly unsettled winter in 1981/1982. The heaviest daily snowfall was 37.0 inches which occurred as recently as February 28, 1971; 20 in (or more in one storm has occurred in both June and September. Hard frost is possible even into the summer, and the average window for freezing temperatures is August 19 through July 7, while for measurable (≥0.1 in or 0.25 cm) snowfall, October 1 through June 15. Surface temperatures of the lake range between 33 °F and 66 °F In the summer, the lake temperature falls to between 50 °F and 60 °F.


Since the collapse of Mount Mazama due to a volcanic eruption formed Crater Lake, no fish inhabited the lake until William G. Steel decided to stock it in 1888 to allow for fishing. Regular stocking continued until 1941, when it was evident that the fish could maintain a stable population without outside interference. Six species of fish were originally stocked, but only two species have survived: Kokanee Salmon and Rainbow Trout with Kokanee being the most plentiful. Fishing in Crater Lake is promoted because the fish species are not indigenous to the lake.

Crater Lake is also known for the "Old Man of the Lake", a full-sized tree which is now a log that has been bobbing vertically in the lake for over a century. The low temperature of the water has slowed the decomposition of the wood, hence its longevity.

In 1987, scientists sent a submersible down to the depths of Crater Lake to obtain more information about the geology at the bottom of the lake, and inspect moss samples found in moss beds as deep as 600 feet.

Due to several unique factors, mainly that the lake has no inlets or tributaries, the waters of Crater Lake are some of the purest in the world because of the absence of pollutants. Clarity readings from a Secchi disk have consistently been measured as being 120 ft (37 m), which is very clear for any natural body of water. In 1997, scientists recorded a record clarity of 142 ft.

The lake has relatively high levels of dissolved salts, total alkalinity, and conductivity. The average pH has generally ranged between 7 and 8.


Crater Lake can be reached from U.S. Route 97 on the east, on the southwest by Highway 62, and on the northwest by Highway 138. Crater Lake and the remnants of Mount Mazama can be seen from Rim Drive, a 33-mile (53 road that surrounds the caldera, which is the only part within the Crater Lake National Park where vehicles are permitted. The Garfield Peak Trail, which runs 1.5 miles east from the Crater Lake Lodge, offers views from 1,900 feet above the lake's surface, with Mount Shasta visible 125 miles southward. Another trail runs for 2.5 miles from Rim Drive's eastern edge to Mount Scott, which offers views of central and southern Oregon such as the Three Sisters located 80 miles north of Mazama and Mount Thielsen, also to the north. The Cleetwood trail leads for 1 mile down the northern flank of the caldera rim, eventually reaching Cleetwood Cove where boat trips run from late June or early July throughout the summer season to Wizard Island. Wizard Island can be climbed, offering views of Crater Lake.

Swimming is permitted in Crater Lake, but the only way to safely and legally get to the shore is by following Cleetwood Cove trail and people can enter the water from there.[40] Other activities include fishing and a 2-hour boat tour around the lake provided by a Park Ranger from Crater Lake National Park.

As the region lies within a national park area, collecting rocks within the vicinity is prohibited unless a permit is obtained. The park's facilities lie at Rim Village, at the southern edge of the caldera. Lodging and camping facilities open during the summer season between May and October. No lodges, gas stations, or camping areas remain open from October through late May. Popular activities within Crater Lake National Park include biking, fishing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.

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Jul 13, 2021

I could not quite tell from your pictures whether you went up Watchman Tower Trail....

Jul 13, 2021
Replying to

Oops. Those photos are part of the slideshows.

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