Sunday, February 23, 2020
Feb. 23, 2020

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Busy summer at Crater Lake despite smaller ’19 crowds


PORTLAND — Oregon’s premier national park site had a busy summer in 2019, but a slower off-season resulted in a drop in annual crowds.

That’s not to say it was a slow year overall for Crater Lake National Park. The southern Oregon park site saw 704,512 visitors in 2019, according to park statistics – the fourth highest number since records began in 1979.

However, the three highest years on record came the three years prior, peaking during the National Park Service’s centennial celebration in 2016, when Crater Lake saw more then 756,000 visitors.

In 2018, crowds shifted from the busy summer months to the shoulder seasons, apparently reacting to what was a particularly bad year of summer wildfires in the region. The result was a record number people who visited in the park during May and October.

Last year, when there were far fewer wildfires in Oregon, crowds at Crater Lake switched right back to the summer. The park’s busiest months between June and September saw about 30,000 more people in 2019, while the shoulder seasons drew about 24,000 fewer.

The off-season months, when the park remains partially open but is reliably covered in snow, also saw a drop, with about 22,000 fewer visitors last year. The seasonal total, however, was just below the park’s 10-year average for that time of year.

Crater Lake was one of several national park sites across the Pacific Northwest to see a decrease in visitors in 2019, though overall park numbers remain on an upward trajectory over time.

Park officials did not respond to requests for comment on the recent numbers.