Recent heavy snows make Crater Lake National Park a perfect destination for folks interested in joining a ranger for a snowshoe hike in the park.
Since Christmas more than 3 feet of snow has fallen on the park, pushing the measured snowfall to 289 inches, far above the 172 inches typically seen through late December. The 111-inch snowpack at park headquarters was nearly twice the 63-inch depth normal for December 30, officials said.
Park officials note that Crater Lake is "one of the snowiest inhabited places in America, receiving an average of 44 feet of snow per year." With so much snow, snowshoe outings are an obvious way to tour the park to see how its natural resources are affected by the heavy snows.
Rangers lead snowshoe hikes every Saturday and Sunday through April. These walks take place at 1 p.m. and run about 2 hours, covering roughly 1 mile in "moderately strenuous terrain, through forests and meadows along the crater's rim."
Participants should be at least 8 years old, be in reasonably good physical condition, and come prepared with very warm clothing and water-resistant footwear, Crater Lake officials note. Snowshoes are provided free of charge for those participants who don't have their own. No previous snowshoeing experience is necessary and there is no cost for the tour.
Space on each tour is limited, so advance reservations are recommended. For more information and to sign up, call the park's visitor center at 541-594-3100.
The visitor center is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. School groups, outdoor clubs, and other groups of 10 or more people can arrange for a separate snowshoe walk. Walks for organized groups are available on weekdays at 1:00 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays at 10:00 a.m.
Crater Lake National Park is open year-round, 24 hours a day. The park's west and south entrances are plowed daily and open to automobiles throughout the winter. The Rim Village Café & Gift Shop is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The park offers many miles of trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.