Friday Postcards from a stormy day on Crater Lake

 In Oregon, USA

Blue skies, clear lake and endless views. This is what I was promised when I decided a last minute road trip to Crater Lake was in order when my aunt came to visit. We packed up the car on a warm sunny morning and spent the day making the long trek down from Seattle to southern Oregon. The next morning we packed up the boys and headed to the national park where the deepest lake in America could be found. The sun was shining and we were excited. Here was a new adventure for my aunt, the boys and I. The boys would be able to run around, check out some animals and experience Mother Nature in all her glory.

And then the skies opened up and it began to pour. 

By the time we got to the park and stopped to grab a bite the heavens had decided to rain down on us. Oh and it wasn’t just rain. It was hail too! What makes it worse is that this would not be the last time it hailed that day. We would get pummeled a second time later in the afternoon.

No matter. We had come this far; we were pressing on.


Your first view from the crater rim of the lake is quite impressive. This was a volcano (a volcano people!) and after it blew this crater remained. The sheer magnitude of that eruption is one thing, but to think about how big the mountain is now and was back then is mind blowing. We made the decision to drive around the entire crater rim with multiple stops for photos and for the kids to play along the way. Of course we hadn’t planned on the rain, which kept us in the car most of the day.

Oh yeah, and we ran out of gas. 

We were almost three quarters of the way around the lake when my gas light went on. What the what? How could that have happened? Well, when you enter a national park with only half a tank of gas and you are climbing up a mountain you are bound to run out of gas.


No problem, we would go back to the park entrance where there was gas. Except there wasn’t. Along with the rain came lightening and thunder, which knocked the power out. Park staffers told us they expected the electricity to go back on by 4:30 p.m., but the day before it had also gone out and not gone back on until 4 a.m. This was not good news. For a mom with a 2 year old who had napped in the car, but desperately needed a bed that night, this was the worst kind of news. Don’t panic, I told myself. It will work out. I pulled out my trusty Kindle Fire and popped on Frozen for the 346th time for my aunt to enjoy with the boys. At least she hadn’t seen it yet. We bunkered down in our tiny car to wait out the storms and see if the power would come back. There wasn’t much else we could do except entertain ourselves and munch on freeze-dried mangos.

Miracle of miracles the power came back on at 4:30 p.m. and we were on our way. The rain had let up and we were still hoping for some sun rays on the lake. We took another turn around the crater rim, never seeing sun, but finding something almost as magical. We were virtually alone on the crater.

Crater Lake

Earlier in the day we had met up with several cars at each scenic overlook. By 5 p.m. the weather and/or the time had chased almost everyone away. Campers were heading back to their tents for dinners and day trippers were long gone. It was eerily quiet, well, unless my boys were out of the car chasing the chipmunks they found or testing the area for echoes.

We may not have had great luck with the weather or even gas mileage, but what we gained was a very popular national park almost all to ourselves. As the sun began to set (it happens pretty late in the Pacific Northwest in the summer), my aunt and I turned to each other and giggled. This had been one heck of an adventure; one that we hadn’t prepared for at all, but definitely one we would remember fondly.

So my message to you all is this- pack warm clothes for any weather that may come through, even in the summer months, AND always arrive with a full tank of gas to Crater Lake.



Friday Postcards

READ FIRST: Welcome to Friday Postcards, a place where I will share a small memory or “postcard” moment from our travels. I hope you will join me too. Link your favorite photo-driven post here if you have a blog so we can share the joys of traveling with each other. If you would like to spread the word, please link back to this post in your own post so others will know where to find a little travel inspiration to end their week. #fridaypostcards

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Showing 10 comments
  • jill

    Sounds like a great adventure! And beautiful photos!

  • Mary {The World Is A Book}

    What an adventure! Well, at least, you’ll have a reason to go back to Crater Lake and luckily, it’s within a drivable weekend trip for you guys. I’m really sorry you didn’t see it with the sun shining on it – I’ll try to post mine next week for inspiration 🙂 Your photos are still beautiful. I’m glad the boys still got the chance to run around and you got the enjoy the park.

  • Adina Marguerite

    What a fabulous memory you have from your visit! While I’m sure it was stressful at the time, how wonderful to have that whole park to yourselves!

  • Cheryl [Kids On A Plane]

    High five for surviving all sorts of weather out there on Crater Lake. Despite the rain and hail, your pics are still beautiful. Note to self, pack for winter even if you’re visiting in summer – time to invest in some space saver vacuum bags for the suitcase!

  • Corinne

    That’s a good message! But I also like the message of just waiting it through, being patient, distracting yourself while you weather the inconvenience. Not only is it important while you travel, but a great thing to teach your kids. Great story!

  • jan

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your misadventure. In retrospect they make the best stories for sure. And they usually have a silver lining, like getting the crater to yourself. What a bonus was your aunt not having seen frozen. I can imagine how awful it was waiting to see if the power came back on or not.

  • Kate @WildTalesof...

    What an adventure! So glad you got to go see Crater Lake though–I’ve been dreaming about going down there for years! We’ll get there some day soon–and will definitely keep your tips in mind 😉 Love that shot of the boys on their tippy toes checking out the view!

  • Terumi

    I love the picture of your guys peering over the edge. And what a crazy story! It’s stories like these though that remind me of why I love to travel. Why live a boring life, right?

  • Debbie at Travel with intent

    Quite an adventure, but a very happy ending!

  • Kara

    Beautiful! Looks like the trip was well worth it but I have to say, you guys are brave. I’m not sure our littlest one would have made it a whole day in the car!

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