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Kat Dierickx | 07.06.2015

Many Oregonians regard Crater Lake with a hearty amount of state pride. Oregon’s only national park is set apart from other natural treasures by its crystal blue waters cupped within an extinct volcano and the cone-shaped Wizard Island that juts from the azure depths just waiting to be explored. Luckily, Crater Lake is not a look-but-don’t-touch, postcard-perfect image. Yes, you can take a spin around the rim road and marvel at Crater Lake’s beauty, but in doing so you are really just scratching the surface of this exceptional playground for a multitude of outdoor adventures.

There is much more to the Crater Lake than just the caldera.

The region beyond the rim is filled with majestic cascading waterfalls, meadows bursting with wildflowers, ancient towering forests, and panoramic vistas that are ideal for a walk in the woods. For hikers and backpackers, the Pacific Crest Trail wraps around the west side of the park, offering high reward for those long-distance trekkers willing to detour up the side of the mountain.

This region is also one the snowiest places in the United States. A snowshoe trip around the lake is top-notch, with options of snow camping along the way. Park rangers lead regular trips through the winter that you can join if you’re able to make the timing work.

For water lovers, the headwaters of the Rogue River originate in the northwest corner of the park. Watching water bubble out of the ground that will eventually form the legendary whitewater downstream is an incredible sight. Outside the park boundary, rivers teem with chinook, trout and steelhead supporting an impressive and first class fly-fishing experience. Kayakers can find unbeatable boating opportunities, and the abundance of wildlife means you may even hear a wolf howl in the moonlight. This region is truly remarkable.

However, while Crater Lake is Oregon’s only national park, it also holds title to an unfortunate crown; it’s one of just a few national parks in the west that does not have any wilderness protection. Zero. Outside the park boundary, areas just as pristine and impressive as the park itself are threatened with devastation from bulldozers and chainsaws. Wildlife habitats are diminishing, and the constant barrage of human development creeps closer toward the park boundary. The very essence of this wild and rugged landscape faces an uncertain future.

Oregon Wild and a growing coalition of outdoor enthusiasts, conservation groups, businesses and activists are coming together to try and protect this region. The Crater Lake Wilderness proposal aims to protect 500,000 acres of this incredible landscape so that it may continue to offer world-class recreation, space for wildlife, and clean water for generations to come.

The stakes are high and we need everyone to join together. Please consider signing our petition and raise your voice for this extraordinary landscape and all who call it home. Senators Wyden and Merkley have the power to introduce legislation to designate this area as protected wilderness, and we’re asking them to do it without delay. If you have any questions about the Crater Lake Wilderness proposal or would like to join the movement, please contact Bridget, Crater Lake Wilderness Organizer at [email protected]. Let’s Keep Crater Lake wild!


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Oregon Wild works to protect and restore Oregon's wildlands, wildlife and waters as an enduring legacy for all Oregonians. Founded in 1974, Oregon Wild has been instrumental in securing permanent legislative protection for some of Oregon's most precious landscapes, including nearly 1.7 million acres of Wilderness, 95,000 acres of forests in Bull Run/Little Sandy watersheds (to safeguard the quality of Portland's water supply) and almost 1,800 miles of Wild & Scenic Rivers. 

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