Snowshoe walks return to Crater Lake

Crater Lake National Park's popular ranger-guided snowshoe walks will resume Saturday for the 2008-2009 winter season. The walks will be offered every weekend through April 2009.

Crater Lake National Park is one of the snowiest inhabited places in America, receiving an average of 44 feet of snow per year. Ranger-led snowshoe walks are a fun way to explore the park's winter wonderland while learning how plants, animals and Crater Lake itself are shaped by the forces of winter.

The walks are offered every Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. and last approximately 90 minutes. Snowshoes are provided free of charge, or visitors may bring their own. No previous snowshoeing experience is necessary.

There is no cost for the tour, and the park does not collect an entrance fee in the winter months.

The walks take place at an elevation of 7,100 feet and cover approximately 1 mile of moderately strenuous terrain, through forests and meadows and along the crater's rim.

Participants should be at least 8 years old and come prepared with warm clothing and water-resistant footwear.

Space on each tour is limited, and advance reservations are recommended. For more information and to sign up, call the park's visitor center at 594-3100. The visitor center is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. School groups, outdoor clubs and other groups of 10 or more people can arrange for a special snowshoe walk by calling 594-3093. Group tours are available on weekdays and on Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 a.m.

Crater Lake National Park is open year-round, 24 hours a day. The park's west and south entrances are plowed and open to automobiles throughout the winter, along with the road to Rim Village. The Rim Village Café and Gift Shop is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The park offers many miles of trails for cross-country skiers and snowshoers.

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