Snowshoeing in Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park

[ As seen in A Week or a Weekend ]

There’s no better way to see Crater Lake National Park in the winter and spring months (December through May) than by snowshoeing — the fastest growing winter sport in the world, according to the Snowshoe Institute of America. And on a weekend in mid-February, we experienced just that — an ultimate Crater Lake adventure.

Many folks think of Crater Lake as a summer or fall destination, yet it might be time to change your mind. If you can walk and dress in layers, you can succeed at an awesome nature outing on a beautiful blue sky sunny day! The road to Crater Lake’s Rim Village is open year-round, as is the Steel Visitor Center. Plus, very friendly and helpful park rangers will welcome you every step of the way .

In February, we guided a day-long tour for a couple from Redding, California. Before we left, they said that they’d “never done this before in the winter and the amount of snow that has fallen this year should make it amazing.”

“Amazing” was the correct description indeed. It’s all about the view at Crater Lake, and as we strapped on our snowshoes and stepped up to the edge, we were captured by a state of jaw-dropping, snow-covered beauty! The Medford Mail Tribune reported that Crater Lake National Park broke a 67-year-old record for December snowfall in 2015. According to the National Weather Service, 196.7 inches of snow fell at the park in December, breaking the previous record of 196 inches set in December, 1948, when Harry S. Truman was president and Alaska and Hawaii had not yet earned their statehoods.

The nice thing about modern snowshoes is that they can take a person safely just about anywhere they wish to go by suspending a person on the top of the snow. We hiked for about two miles along the 30-mile perimeter of the lake to see a variety of caldera. We looked right down onto Wizard Island, named by an original superintendent of the park, William Steele, who said it looked like a witches’ cauldron. Wizard Island, a water-surrounded cinder cone with its own crater on top, rises up within Crater Lake’s caldera.  (Crater Lake itself is the water-filled caldera of a huge volcano that collapsed after erupting nearly 8,000 years ago.)

Early on in the day, we met up with an ambitious foursome of snowshoers who took their Presidents Day Weekend to hike the perimeter of Crater Lake and snow camp. Yes, I said camp in the snow! As I chatted with them, I discovered the women were life-long schoolmates and friends. They and their beaus decided to meet-in-the-middle of their respective Bay Area California and Seattle homes. With pre-prepared foods, cook stoves, safety directional devices, snow shovels, ice picks and warm sleeping bags, pads and tents, they were jubilant to be on their way.

On the drive back home from Crater Lake to Ashland, our happy guests were holding hands — real sweethearts who had welcomed the adventure and the companionship. It was clear that they had enjoyed a truly amazing day!

Message in a Bottle


By M. Kim Lewis 

From left, Kim Kinderman of Agate Ridge; Earl Jones of Abacela; Herb Quady of Troon and Quady North; and Deb Hatcher of REX HILL and A to Z Wineworks lead discussions with attendees at this year’s SoWine conference held at UCC’s Danny Lang Center, home of the Southern Oregon Wine Institute. Photo by Kim Lewis

It must be something in the water … the sunshine … the soil … and the diversity of incredible terroir that attracts superbly talented people to Southern Oregon. You could have gone anywhere else in the world to start your wineries; yet, you came, willing to take risks to unearth unique entrepreneurial rewards,” said Tom Danowski, executive director of the Oregon Wine Board, while attending SoWine3, Southern Oregon Wine Institute’s third marketing and sales conference.

Hosted at Umpqua Community College’s Danny Lang Center in Roseburg on June 12, the annual summit featured more than a dozen professional speakers from the Pacific Northwest — including marketing and media gurus, winery owners and OWB’s marketing director. They extolled Southern Oregon’s defining attributes, but all had an important message to relay: Know your customer…. [ read more ]

A Concerted Effort


By M. Kim Lewis

The Olson family includes (from left) Priscilla, 16, Johnny, 21, John, Joy, and Rebekah, 18.
The Olson family includes (from left) Priscilla, 16, Johnny, 21, John, Joy, and Rebekah, 18.

I had already planned to go Dungeness crabbing on the Southern Oregon coast near Coos Bay when I received a request to interview the owners at TeSóAria Vineyard & Winery near Roseburg. No problem. A visit to the Umpqua Valley winery would be the perfect end to an adventure at sea.

After a surprisingly successful time with a cooler full of fresh Dungeness crab and boat in tow, I arrived to meet John and Joy Olson. Their newly built tasting room had a high-ceiling agri-industrial feel. It was set beautifully in their vineyards, not far from the Umpqua River and within view of their home.

John, to my delight, was an approachable winemaker and enthusiastic tasting room diplomat. His wife, Joy, smiled a lot and added color to his multitude of stories. This winery, as is true for most in Southern Oregon, started as a family affair and spread into the community … fast. [ read more ]

Truffles: No Mere Trifle


By M. Kim Lewis

Tucker, a Standard Poodle, is directed by certified K-9 trainers Deborah and David Walker. Dr. Charles Lefevre takes them to the truffle patch near Lorane.

When recently invited to my first truffle hunt, dog and all, I must admit I was pretty excited … I had foraged for chanterelles, matsutakes and morels in the Southwestern Oregon woods with only mixed success.

Now I was going with “real professionals,” a reliable truffle dog and GPS in hand to hunt the curiously pungent underground fungi called truffles.

Oregon boasts the largest concentration of native Oregon white, black and brown truffles anywhere in the U.S. Each has a unique harvest season running throughout the year. This native harvest stimulates gourmet food chefs and gourmand foragers alike with its dignified harvest. I hoped this day would yield an edible surprise for me as well…. [ read more ]

Oregon Wine Tours

The inherent beauty and nuance in an Oregon Pinot Noir is rivaled by few other varietals. (Photo: low view of a wine glass with wine and grapes and napkin image by David Smith from Fotolia.com)

“Oregon boasts an amazingly diverse wine scene. The first vineyards were established in the early 1960s and have grown into this country’s third largest wine-producing state…

“Main Street Tours offers an affordable foray into the Umpqua, Rogue and Applegate regions of southern Oregon. The tour exposes guests to stunning rural vistas nestled in rolling hills with lavish panoramic views of various wineries and vineyards…” [ read more ]

– Isobel Washington, Demand Media
USA Today – Travel Tips

French contingent samples a taste of Rogue Valley

“The Southern Oregon wine industry may be in its relative infancy compared with winemaking in France. But when a group from France toured the American West in August, two Medford wineries and a Jacksonville tasting room were part of the itinerary…

“Kim and Ginny Lewis, of Ashland-based Southern Oregon Wine Tours, conducted the Rogue Valley portion.”…


Read more from the article by Cleve Twitchell in the Mail Tribune.