I call it a “Holy Shit” moment. One of those rare occurrences in travel when you round a bend and see something so stupendous that you’re shouting expletives of joy. This is exactly what happens when you reach the rim of Crater Lake. You’ve never seen water such a shade of vibrant blue, the result of sunlight pouring down on the deepest lake in America. Ringed by jagged peaks, it’s a captivating site that you’ll want to see from every available parking site. Though if you were wise, you booked a room at the Crater Lake Lodge when they went on sale July 1st for the following year. Rooms with lake view are booked, on average, 13 months in advance says Assistant General Manger Tim Mahoney. That’s not a surprise when you realize the closest lodging after the lodge is in Klamath Falls, a good 59-mile drive. Throw down your bags and take the short hike from the lodge to 8,054-foot Garfield Peak. The views below, especially to the lone island, Wizard Island, are more astounding the higher the elevation. Afterwards, relax on the back porch of the lodge in the rocking chairs and listen to the daily 4 pm lecture by a park ranger on the rugged individuals who were determined to make this special caldera a national park. You can toast to them at dinner that night while dining on bison meatloaf.
Steve Jermanok As a columnist for National Geographic Adventure, adventure travel expert at Budget Travel, and regular contributor on outdoor recreation for Outside, Men’s Journal, Health, and Sierra, Steve Jermanok has written more than 1,000 articles on the outdoors.He’s also authored or co-authored 11 books, including Outside Magazine’s Adventure Guide to New England and Men’s Journal’s The Great Life. His latest book is Go Now! Put Your Life on Pause and See the World. He’s currently an adventure travel expert at Away.com and blogs daily at Active Travels.