Nordic Lights: The Best in Cross-Country Skiing

Oregon: Crater Lake Cross-Country Ski Odyssey

Crater Lake in winter is one of the most beautiful sights in North America. The jagged white peaks of the crater's 6-mile wide rim are mirrored in the lake's icy waters—a fantastic sight that puts any Sierra Club calendar to shame. Teeming with tourists in summer, Crater Lake is a far different place in the winter. On weekdays it is almost deserted—a great getaway from civilization.
There are a number of small group trips available, most originating in Portland followed by a drive to the base of Crater Lake. From there you ski to the top and the hit the circuit, snow-camping overnight in tents on the upper section of the mountain. Along the way, you can climb the Watchman, Hillman Peak, and Cloudcap summits high above to get a stunning overhead view of the lake. Stronger skiers can telemark down the crater's slopes, away from the rim basecamps.

Practically Speaking
Although you can reach the rim of the Crater many ways, smart skiers approach the Crater from the east, park their vehicles a few miles from the crest, and then ascend a steady, fairly gentle grade to the top. The best touring is on the 33-mile Rim Drive. Connecting snowmobile trails allow easy skiing, even with packs, but expect some motorized noise pollution on weekends.
While the intermediate and advanced skiers get the most out of the group trips, most outfitters will customize the winter outting to match with your particular skill level. A typical week-long trip runs around $1,000, including food, gear, and transport to and from Portland.

Paul McMenamin is the author, editor, and photo director of the original Ultimate Adventure Sourcebook.

Published: 7 Feb 2001 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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