We got an unexpectedly early start that morning when an angry gentleman came by to tell us that we were camped on private property and we should not leave any trash. We had assumed it was part of the forest so we felt bad about trespassing even accidentally. We packed up quickly and got on the road to Crater Lake.
It was a good thing we got off to an early start because as I looked back at the pictures, I realized we packed a lot into a single day. Our first stop was Diamond Lake Resort. The camp host at Derrick Road Campground had recommended it to us when we mentioned we were going to Crater Lake. The campground was about to close for the season when we were there but the lodge stays open all year. The lake was beautiful even on a cool, cloudy day. We went into the lodge for coffee and ended up ordering a big breakfast to go when we saw the menu. Pancakes, eggs, and loaded hashbrowns definitely had us fueled up for the day as we headed into Crater Lake.
I knew to expect cooler temperatures but I was surprised to see how much snow was on the ground and the trees in September. At the first scenic overlook, I stayed in the car while Francis braved the cold to take pictures. I was amazed to see a gentleman emerge from a portable restroom in shorts and a tank top and proceed to “wash” his hands in a snowbank! I know not everyone is as sensitive to the cold as I am, but that was impressive.
People had told us that photos can’t really do Crater Lake justice and they are exactly right. The lake is huge and a gorgeous blue color. Add in the snow-covered trees and mountains around it and you have a truly breathtaking sight. Even I had to come out of the jeep to gaze at it and take pictures. We took our time driving through the park enjoying the scenery and stopping at various places for photos. We will definitely return on a warmer day to do some hiking.
After leaving the park, we stopped at Natural Bridge which is on the upper reaches of the Rogue River. The river disappears for a short time as it goes through a lava tube before reappearing. A short, paved trail provides great views and lots of informative signage. There is a Natural Bridge Campground as well but we opted to go a little further before stopping at Rogue Elk Campground near Shady Cove partly because we were tired by that point and partly because we liked the name. It is a nice county park campground along the Rogue River.
While we were setting up camp, one of our neighbors came by to tell us that another camper had left lots of firewood behind if we wanted some. We hesitated at first because sometimes it is too cold for me to stay outside after dark even with a fire but we decided to give it a try. I have no idea what kind of wood it was, but it was the hottest burning firewood we have ever used. It was so nice to be able to comfortably stay outside and enjoy the night sky.