Snow, construction slow visitors at Crater Lake

CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK — Traffic delays are still occurring for people entering Crater Lake National Park and traveling along West Rim Drive, but the delays are expected to ease somewhat following a busy, extended Fourth of July weekend.

Because of extremely long lines, especially at the South Entrance station, park rangers have occasionally allowed vehicles to enter the park without stopping to show passes or pay fees.

Delays and parking problems have been exacerbated by ongoing construction projects. Kirsten Hardin, the park's chief of facility management, said delays along West Rim Drive between The Watchman and Discovery Point are continuing while construction crews rebuild a section of rock wall, which limits travel to one-way traffic. A traffic light was used over the extended weekend, but pilot cars now lead traffic. Delays of up to 30 minutes are possible.

Hardin said construction crews are working some nights, when the West Rim Road is closed.

"The contractor crews are working very hard," she said, noting the park's typically short construction season has been shortened more than usual because of the unusually high snowpack.

Rim Drive is open from Rim Village past the North Entrance junction and Cleetwood Cove to the Skell Head parking area. Snowplow crews are continuing to work past the Skell Head closure toward Mount Scott and east from the park headquarters in Munson Valley. She had no estimate on when the entire 33-mile Rim Drive will be open.

Fifty parking spaces are open at the Cleetwood Cove parking area, where a 1.1-mile trail provides the only access to the lake. Concession boat tours are scheduled to begin later this month. The parking lot is being expanded and paved, but the resumption of this year's construction was delayed because the high snowpack prevented snowplows from clearing the area until late June. As a result, Hardin said, people have been parking along the road.

And, despite "No Parking" signs at The Watchman Overlook parking area, so many people have been illegally parking that sections of the road are effectively narrowed to a single lane, she said. The Watchman, a fire lookout that also serves as a visitor contact area, remains closed because of rehabilitation work to the historic structure.

— Reach freelance writer Lee Juillerat at or 541-880-4139.

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