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Contact: Marsha McCabe
CRATER LAKE, OR – The scenic drive around the country’s deepest lake will be safer and smoother because of the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) Legacy Restoration Fund. An approximately $56 million dollar project, scheduled to start in Crater Lake National Park this summer, will improve about 19 miles of East Rim Drive and a portion of the Cloudcap Spur Road.
The historic East Rim Drive extends along the southern, eastern, and northern rim of the Crater Lake caldera, providing visitor access to panoramic views, a campground, hiking trails, picnic areas, geological formations, waterfalls, and overlooks of the volcanic caldera now filled with clear, blue water.
Constructed in the 1930s, the narrow, wavy, potholed, rockfall-damaged roadway is structurally failing and in desperate need of an upgrade. The project will stabilize the road, replace sections of pavement, and incorporate modern safety standards for sight lines, curvature, and elevation changes to ensure a consistent travel width and more stable shoulder. It will also repair guard walls on several damaged historic rock walls, improve drainage structures, prevent further erosion, strengthen shoulders, and enhance parking areas with accessibility-compliant slopes, markings, curb cuts, walkways, and overlooks.
“We greatly appreciate the support to get this major project funded,” said Crater Lake National Park Superintendent Craig Ackerman. “It is one of the park’s highest deferred maintenance and repair priorities and will help ensure a safe visitor experience on the historic East Rim Drive.”
The revamped road will better protect the 1943-foot-deep lake and other natural, cultural, and recreational features of the park. The new grading and drainage system will prevent erosion issues and divert stormwater away from Crater Lake’s famous pristine water. Road improvements will reduce congestion areas and increase public access and opportunities for recreation, including biking, hiking, camping, fishing, birding, and stargazing.
The project should take about five years to complete. The contract was awarded through the Federal Highway Administration to Steve Manning Construction of Redding, Calif. During construction, vehicle traffic will not be able to circumnavigate Rim Drive but will be able to drive out and back on the open portions of the road to enjoy views of the lake and access recreational areas, including trails. When finished, the road and its associated features should not require major repairs or replacement for 20-30 years. The rehabilitation project will reduce the park’s deferred maintenance and repair needs associated with these facilities by approximately $40 million. In 2022, Crater Lake reported an estimated $193 million in deferred maintenance and repairs, much of it related to park roads.
During the 2023 season, construction will be focused on the section of road between the Cleetwood Cove Trailhead and Skell Head Overlook. Vehicles, bikers, and hikers will not be permitted through the hard closure areas, however, access will be temporarily reopened for special events like Ride the Rim on September 9th and 16th.
GAOA is part of a concerted effort to address the extensive deferred maintenance and repair backlog in national parks. Supported by revenue from energy development, GAOA's Legacy Restoration Fund provides up to $1.3 billion per year for five years to the National Park Service to make significant enhancements in national parks to ensure their preservation and provide opportunities for recreation, education, and enjoyment for current and future visitors.
Last updated: July 11, 2023