By Dan Shryock
Crater Lake’s Rim Drive is one of the most scenic roads in America, but it’s hard to enjoy the views with your eyes on the road. During the summer, you can choose to leave the driving to someone else and take a ranger-guided trolley tour.
Scheduled tours circle Crater Lake six times a day from July through October. Tours begin and end at Rim Village, spend two hours traveling clockwise on the 33-mile Rim Drive, and stop along the way for at least four scenic overlooks. Weather changes may alter plans so always confirm schedules.
“The tours are popular,” Crater Lake National Park Supt. Craig Ackerman says. “They use trolley-style, compressed natural gas vehicles. A uniformed park ranger accompanies each tour and explains the natural and cultural history of the park while visitors get to experience many of the pullouts.
“When originally developed in the 1920s and 1930s, most of these pullouts were designed to be part of just such a motor tour of the park,” Ackerman says. “We have had overwhelmingly positive feedback from visitors who have taken the tours. And, there’s an added benefit. We have fewer vehicles crowding the roads and we reduced exhaust emissions.”
The trolleys are fully enclosed, climate-controlled and wheelchair accessible. They seat approximately 25 passengers and are styled to resemble vintage streetcars with an interior of hand-finished wood and polished brass.
Travelers choosing to ride Amtrak can purchase train tickets with Crater Lake as the final destination, says Crater Lake Trolley owner Jim Robinson. The northbound Coast Starlight, for example, arrives in Klamath Falls in time to connect with the first morning trolley to the rim.
Visit www.CraterLakeTrolley.com for more information.
Dan Shryock is an Oregon-based journalist and travel writer. When he's not visiting Southern Oregon or sampling local wines, he can be found cycling throughout the state.