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Crater Lake prepares for winter

Seasonal changes are taking effect at Crater Lake National Park.

Park officials said the North Entrance Road and Rim Drive closed for the season earlier this month. All park visitors must use Highway 62’s south entrance to access the park during the closures.

Park spokeswoman Marsha McCabe noted the North Entrance Road and Rim Drive, with elevations from 5,850 to 7,960 feet above sea level, receive an average of more than 40 feet of snow each year and are not plowed from fall to late spring because of deep drifts, avalanche risk and other dangerous conditions. The North Entrance Road and Rim Drive will reopen in the late spring or early summer of 2021. Dates for road openings vary depending on snowfall.

Because of the winter closure, the park is now charging its winter entrance fees of $20 per car, $15 per motorcycle, and $15 per person on foot or bike. The entrance fee covers seven days and is collected at the Annie Creek entrance station. It is also possible to purchase an annual pass for Crater Lake National Park for $55, which is honored at both Crater Lake and Lava Beds National Monument. Annual passes for Lava Beds are also accepted at Crater Lake. An America the Beautiful Pass, good for entrance to all national parks for one year from date of purchase, is available for $80. Passes are available online at www.recreation.gov/sitepass/2647.

McCabe said the park is open 365 days a year. Highway 62 and Munson Valley Road, which leads to Rim Village and lake viewing access, are plowed throughout the winter. During heavy snowstorms, however, she said the road from park headquarters to Rim Village may be closed to allow plow operators to focus their efforts on the remaining roads.

When visiting the park in fall, winter and spring, visitors should be prepared for winter weather and rapidly changing road conditions by carrying chains and knowing how to use them. Visitors can check current visibility and road conditions on the park’s webcams,

“Be aware that conditions can change rapidly, and refunds are not offered for poor visibility or lack of access to Rim Village after visitors go past the entrance station. Visitors should fuel their vehicles before arriving at the park because gasoline is not available from mid-October until late May.”

The park’s backcountry office is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for permits only. For health and safety reasons, building occupancy is limited, so groups are asked to designate one individual to obtain the permit. Permits are free but required for all overnight camping in the park.

A heated restroom with running water is located in Rim Village and is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition there are open vault toilets at the Ponderosa Picnic Area near the park’s south entrance, the Goodbye Picnic Area on Munson Valley Road, and the Old West pullout near the west entrance. The vault toilets will remain open and available until the snow becomes too deep to keep them accessible.

“Visitors need to be self-sufficient and come prepared for winter conditions,” McCabe said. “Tire chains may be required at times. Make sure your car is equipped with extra supplies that might be needed for winter conditions — food, water, blankets, jackets, flashlight, etc.”

The Rim Café and Gift Shop is closed for the season, and no food is available in the park. The Steel Information Center is also closed.

For the latest information and updates, visit the park’s website at www.nps.gov/crla or call the park at 541-594-3100 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily.

Reach freelance writer Lee Juillerat at 337lee337@charter.net or 541-880-4139.

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