(Photo J. Maus/BikePortland)
If you missed a chance to ride McKenzie Pass without being disturbed by noisy and smelly cars (it was just re-opened to all traffic over the weekend), then I’ve got some great news: Officials from Crater Lake National Park and Travel Oregon just announced this year’s dates for their own version of carfree cycling spectacularness.
This year there will be three different dates when certain sections of Rim Drive will be open only to non-motorized traffic: June 21-22 (this weekend!), Saturday September 20th and Saturday, September 27th.
According to the official announcement by Travel Oregon, Crater Lake National Park plans, “to preserve every third and fourth Saturday in September as an annual opportunity to highlight non-motorized use of the park and will open for some time in June, depending on snow pack.”
Crater Lake Park Superintendent Craig Ackerman said they received such a great response from their first go-round last year that they decided to make it an annual occurrence. “After an outpouring of positive feedback from the many people who participated in this rare opportunity, we decided to make it an annual occurrence, but to split it up into three separate weekends to accommodate as many people as possible,” he said in a statement.
Here’s more about what sections of the road will be closed to motorized traffic:
The vehicle-free section for the June event will be on East Rim Drive from Cleetwood Cove to the park headquarters and Steel Visitor Center. Visitors can park at Cleetwood Cove (North Entrance) and the Steel Visitor Center (South Entrance). For the September events, the route will be extended to begin at the North Junction headquarters.
If you head out, remember that normal park entrance fees apply. And if you drive there, parking is on a first-come, first-serve bases and the lots tend to fill up quickly.
This is fantastic! I couldn’t make it last year because of short notice — now that it’s annual, it will be much easier to plan ahead and head down there.
I’ll be heading down on Friday, camping at Mazama campground, and riding the loop on Saturday. I’d love some company from other Portland riders- join me!
Careful about the weather in September. I went last year when they closed East Rim Drive to cars and it was freezing rain, snow, and the lake was not visible due to fog!
This is really awesome. I am really proud of the NPS hearing out the needs of low impact users of the park.
I biked through Glacier this summer, and they were actually doing outreach to get opinions on how to make the park experience better with transportation in/through the park being a major issue. My comment got in there, albeit as the very last line in that section:
“Others recommended that private vehicles be restricted between 11 am and 4 pm, rather than bicycles”
Thanks for the heads up on National Park Service and Glacier. I just posted this on their comments:
Please work with Amtrak to make their bicycle policies better. I’ve thought about taking my bicycle to Glacier using Amtrak a number of times but hadn’t done it yet. I finally got to sort of experience Amtrak last week when I tried to get my dad from Sandpoint ID to East Glacier using Amtrak. Firstly, Amtrak won’t allow bicycles to be loaded at Sandpoint which meant we had to rent a car and drive Dad back to Spokane so he could get the train. Secondly, they require bicycles to be partially disassembled and put into a box before they can be loaded onto a train. They have no tools to help take the bike apart which is a huge problem because taking pedals off requires a specialty tool. The box is used only once which is a huge waste of cardboard. They charge $25 extra to take a bicycle on the train. It is a frustrating and stress-filled experience for both Amtrak’s customers and their staff. This could all be better if they simply installed a few ceiling hooks in the baggage car. They have bicycle hooks on one or two of their other lines and Amtrak has a Bicycle Committee looking at the issue. Maybe the NPS could help nudge them along to make progress on this, get it out of committee meetings and make taking a bicycle on Amtrak a pleasant experience instead of a frustrating experience.
On the flip side, Dad and I used Amtrak to go Portland to Mount Vernon, WA and then cycled the San Juan Islands. It was a fabulous experience because Amtrak’s “Cascades” route doesn’t require boxing bikes and it’s only $5 extra for a bike reservation. Highly recommended!
I can’t make it this weekend, but might have to shoot for one of those September Saturdays.
I am going to try to make it work, but these short notices are difficult to work with. I have been keeping an eye on the Crater Lake website for the past month and saw the September dates posted a few days ago. I figured a June weekend wasn’t going to happen. I am very happy to see the NPS bring this back after a successful implementation last year.
Anyone planning on riding the full loop, I would suggest CCW. This will have you going mostly downhill on the Western Rim where cars will be present. The opposite direction will have you huffing fumes as autos have to power up this climb too. Looks like a beautiful weekend coming up!
Good thinking Mij. The clockwise grind up to the lodge can be harrowing next to all the RV traffic, which will still be present. The closest I’ve ever seen my wife come to losing her life was when a fast-moving rental RV’s running board came within a couple inches of her on that climb. I vowed never again to ride Crater Lake on a weekend. Well, now I might have to break that vow on one of these “special” weekends.
This is also worth pointing out because the preferred route for cyclists is normally clockwise, so that you’re closer to the lake and don’t have to make left turns on and off the road to visit the frequent pullouts. Which will be less of a concern because more than half the route will be free of car(e)s.
Yikes, that too. I didn’t have any close calls, but it was a very different experience compared to the rest of the day. We were riding single file and yelling to talk to each other as autos were high revving to go up the steep climbs.
RV drivers are some of the worst out there when it comes to bike touring. They either are consistently not paying attention, or all the type of bike hating psychopaths that comment on corporate news websites all end up retiring to drive an RV.
… which is pretty ironic, since RV drivers seem to be the ones that everyone else hates. Guess that puts us at the bottom of the totem pole, huh?
Just above skateboarders..
The south side of the lake (I.e. the first part you access if you’re riding from the campground) mainly switchbacks its way away from the lake, with the occasional great views of Phantom Ship – most of the good views come at the north end and along the west (shared with cars) part of the rim. If you’re car topping anyway, I would recommend camping at Diamond lake, which is a shorter drive from Portland, very close to the North entrance and doesn’t require you to drive along the rim twice. We camped at the mazama campground when we went for the September event last year and driving in and out both days in pea soup fog and hoarfrost/ice was very sketchy/treacherous. In case of bad weather, If you parked at the north junction, biked counterclockwise, you have the option to turn around before the pass, or end at the lodge and take a shuttle along the (open to cars) west rim, should you need to.
Oops, i meany cloxkwisr, not counterclockwise.
P.s. for those of us who biked the while way around despite the aforementioned snow, starting at the south and going CCW worked well because the part with big climb and no views was at the beginning. For our friends who started there but were only able to do a shorter ride and turned around, it wasn’t so Great. For our friends who did a shorter/turnaround ride that started at the north end, they got all of the views and better weather.
Thanks for the heads-up. My wife and I cycled the loop on Saturday, counterclockwise. It was our first time at Crater Lake. Perfect weather. It was breathtaking, in both scenery and physically. The “Rim Drive”… if taken too literally, sounds like it would be not too much elevation… wrong (32.2 miles / 4,237′ ascent). The visual rewards and solitude on the car-free section made it all so worth it. I may never top this experience on a bike.