Road to Crater Lake closed, 'impact of human waste' a concern

The access road from Highway 62, the west entrance to Crater Lake National Park, remained closed to drivers Thursday afternoon. (KTVL/Riche Garza)

The road to Crater Lake National Park was closed Thursday, as the partial government shutdown extended into its thirteenth day.

The park remained accessible when the shutdown first started, even though National Parks employees weren't there to do things like maintain restrooms, guide visitors or respond to emergencies.

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Thursday's visitors found the access road from Hwy 62 closed about four miles prior to the park's visitor center. According to the park's website, the road closure was due to concerns over "the impact of human waste buildup on the park's water system."

Park staff posted signs stating that visitors could still hike, snowshoe or ski the seven miles to the lake's rim, but they cautioned adventurers that three miles of the trip included unmaintained roads, plus an elevation gain of 1,000 feet.

Even so, some visitors decided to brave the snow.

"We were a little disappointed, but we're outdoor people, so it's not a big problem for us," said Vladimir Stozhkov, a visitor from Tennessee. "It just means like an extra eight miles of hiking."

Stozhkov said he also visited the park back in August, but was disappointed when he saw smoke-filled air blocking the view of the lake.

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As visitors made the most of their trips, the lack of restrooms proved to be a major concern.

"Humans are kind of gross so they throw trash everywhere and there's nobody to clean it up," said Kayda Lacey, a visitor from California. "So you have to find somewhere, you know, natural."

The park's website says the road to Crater Lake may not reopen until after the shutdown.

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