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Ride the Rim (of Crater Lake)

33+ mile bike ride around Crater Lake

@CraterLakeNPS

I once tried to ride around Crater Lake on my bike. It didn’t go well.

Fast forward many years to yesterday. I heard they were closing the road to vehicles on two Saturdays this year. Maybe this has happened in recent years as well. In any event, I did it!

Anyway, let me share a few observations for those of you doing it on September 21, 2019 or in future years…

Get there early! Before 8 is good; before 7 is even better. When I left Crater Lake for home at 11 something after finishing my ride the car traffic was crazy. People were circling forever and not finding places to park their cars. In addition, the roads may not have cars on them, but do you really want to ride around the lake when the roads are crammed with bikes? The ride was very pleasant, congestion wise, between 7 and 9. Things got a little crowded after that and seemed to be getting very crowded about the time I finished. Besides the crowd size issue, the lake looks fairly different between 7 and 11 a.m. with the sunrise but not so different between, say, 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Bring gloves and a face shield. The shield will help with the temperature and wind chill–especially before 9 a.m.–and it will also keep the bugs from entering your mouth and nose at 20+ MPH.

There is plenty of water at the five rest stations so you don’t need to carry too much. I brought three bottles which was two too many.

The ride is over 33 miles (not including Cloudcap) and includes a ton of elevation. Basically, there are no flat spots. You are either climbing or coasting downhill. Therefore, you will want to do some training to make sure you can ride uphill for at least 15 miles.

Cloudcap viewpoint adds an extra mile or two and is a big climb. Feel free to skip it unless you want the extra workout. I did it only because I didn’t realize I could skip it, and the bikes in front of me were heading that way.

You can go in either direction. West Rim Drive (not closed to autos) is best done early, IMO, before the car traffic arrives so if you park at the lodge or visitor’s center a clockwise direction is advised.

I would love to do this again, earlier in the year, when there is still some snow on things. It would be nice if they closed the roads to autos as soon as they open the East Rim Drive some year. I suppose a flexible date, based on the weather, would make planning more difficult though.

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