It’s Still Snowing Somewhere In Oregon

crater lake oregonWhen you think of wintery weather, Oregon might not be the first state that comes to mind. It certainly wasn’t for me until I visited snowed-under Crater Lake National Park and other snowy, high altitude spots in the Beaver State last week. It was 76 degrees and sunny on the day we left Klamath Falls, Oregon, for the park, which is only 70 miles to the north, and even though I’d been told that Rim Drive, the scenic route around the park, was closed due to snow, I didn’t quite believe it.

To me, it was like being in South Beach on a toasty, warm day and hearing that there was snow in West Palm Beach. But Crater Lake is about 2,000 feet higher than Klamath Falls and sure enough, the place was still buried in snow.

“All the hiking trails are covered in deep snow,” said the park ranger who took our $10 entry fee. “But we rent snow shoes if you’re interested.”
We drove on towards the visitor’s center and were astonished to see huge snowdrifts on both sides of the neatly paved road. Over at the lake’s Discovery Point lookout, it was 41 degrees according to our rental car’s temperature gauge, but when I stepped out of the car, I was almost knocked down by a ferocious wind that made it feel as though it was in the teens. I had brought a hat and gloves but there were a few other hapless tourists there in shorts and T-shirts grimacing in pain.

crater lake oregon

Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States at more than 1,900 feet (seventh deepest in the world) and the water is remarkably clean. I have never seen a deeper shade of blue in my life and the contrast of the snow against the steep cliffs along the lake makes for an unforgettable view. According to the Moon Guide to Oregon, Kodak used to send apologies along with photos they processed of the lake because their technicians couldn’t believe that the water at Crater Lake was that blue. It is.

crater lake oregon

Rim Drive was indeed closed after Discovery Point to traffic but that made it pleasant to walk on and although we couldn’t really take advantage of the park’s 90 miles of hiking trails with two kids and no snow shoes, it was delightful to have a national park practically all to ourselves, even if it was bitterly cold and windy.

After leaving Crater Lake, we spent four days in Bend, one of America’s most beautifully situated cities with snowcapped mountains in almost every direction, and had more wintery surprises in store for us. McKenzie Pass, reputed to be one of the most scenic drives in the Cascade Range, was closed due to snow, as was most of the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway, despite the fact that it was nearly 80 degrees in nearby Bend.

mt bachelor oregon

But only 20 minutes outside Bend, the Mt. Bachelor ski resort was not only open but also busy with skiers. The place remains open through Memorial Day and at this time of year visitors to Bend can ski in the morning and play tennis or golf in the afternoon. For a guy who lives in the flat, boring Midwest, the quick and dramatic changes in altitude and weather are reason enough to get on a plane and head to Oregon.

Ski resorts announce Independence Day skiing

Go skiing on Independence Day this year!This past winter saw record amounts of snow fall across the western United States, which made for one of the best ski seasons in recent memory. (not to mention great rafting too!) All of that snow allowed some resorts to stay open well into the spring, extending the season beyond all expectations. Now, in an unprecedented move, two resorts have announced that they’ll be open for skiing over the July 4th Independence Day weekend as well.

Late last week, California‘s Squaw Valley and Oregon‘s Mt. Bachelor, announced that their respective mountains would be open for business July 2nd through the 4th. Both resorts still have quite a bit of snow on their main runs, and they don’t seem to anticipate that changing dramatically between now and the Independence Day weekend. That means that skiers and snowboarders will get the very rare opportunity for summer fun on the slopes.

Both resorts will also be offering special activities on that weekend as well. For instance, Squaw Valley will be hosting a pool party, live bands, and a fireworks display. Private lessons are also 50% off as well. Mt. Bachelor will also have live music and have reduced lift tickets to just $30 per day. Additionally, the first 250 skiers and snowboarders to purchase lift tickets each day will receive a special “JulySki” t-shirt to commemorate this special event.

I think it is safe to say that when the ski season began late last year, no one was expecting to still be able to hit the slopes in July. If you’re a skier or snowboarder, I’m not sure how you could pass up an opportunity like this one.