Crater Lake National Park begins snowshoe tours

Crater Lake National Park begins snowshoe tours
FILE - In this Dec. 26, 2007, file photo, Larry Oppert, of Klamath Falls, Ore., snowshoes past Crater Lake in Crater Lake National Park, Ore. Ranger-guided snowshoe walks have begun at Crater Lake National Park with the free, two-hour walks offered at 1 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday through April 27. (AP Photo/The Mail Tribune, Jamie Lusch, File)

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. (AP) — Ranger-guided snowshoe walks have begun at Crater Lake National Park.

The free, two-hour walks are offered at 1 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday through April 27. In addition, tours will be offered daily from Thursday, Dec. 26 through Wednesday, Jan. 1. The park provides the snowshoes.

Reservations are necessary because of the ongoing popularity of the walks, especially during the holidays. During the walks, participants typically walk about a mile of moderately strenuous terrain while exploring forested areas and meadows. Rangers explain how plants, animals and people survive in deep snow.

"The snowshoe walks are a fun way to explore our winter wonderland," said park spokeswoman Marsha McCabe.

She notes Crater Lake is one of the snowiest inhabited places in the United States, receiving an average of 525 inches, or 44 feet of snow, each winter.

Participants should be at least 8 years old, be in reasonably good physical condition, and come prepared with warm clothing and water-resistant footwear. No previous snowshoeing experience is necessary. There is no cost for using the snowshoes and the tour. The park does not collect an entrance fee in the winter months.

Space on the tours is limited so reservations can be made by calling the park's visitor center at 541-594-3100. The visitor center is open daily 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. but is closed Dec. 25. Groups of 15 people or more — including school groups, outdoor clubs and church groups — may be able to arrange separate group tours on weekdays or weekends.

The park is open year-round, 24 hours a day. The North Entrance and Rim Drive are closed to cars in the winter, but the West and South entrances on Highway 62 are plowed daily and are open to motor vehicles throughout the year, although temporary road closures are possible during heavy storms. There is no winter lodging in the park, but the Rim Village Café & Gift Shop is open daily except Christmas Day.

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Information from: Herald and News, http://www.heraldandnews.com

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press