Hi, I live in San Francisco and would like to plan a 3-day road trip with my son, who is 18. We wanted to see the Crater Lake but found out it is closed for the winter. Can you please suggest an April destination that is driveable from Northern California, offers nature, hikes? – Oksana W.

Glad to hear you planned a trip to Crater Lake, Oregon’s only national park. To clarify, it’s not closed. Some of the road and facilities are closed. But it’s well worth seeing in wintertime, when there are some unique opportunities for exploring the park. Snowshoe hikes on the weekends are free through April 29, and the park even provides the snowshoes. I personally have done the snowshoe hike and wrote about it for the Medford Mail Tribune newspaper. Just make sure to register in advance because the hikes do fill up.  As you probably gathered, Crater Lake is in a very remote area of the state. The closest lodging this time of year is about an hour away in Prospect. I have never stayed at the Prospect Hotel, but I hear good things about it.

If you don’t feel up for a trek in the snow, Southern Oregon has plenty more to offer. The Table Rocks are locals’ favorite for hiking, particularly in April, when wildflowers paint the landscape with fleeting colors. Free, guided hikes are offered through the Bureau of Land Management and other conservation groups. For more outdoor activities in the region, check the Medford Mail Tribune’s weekly Oregon Outdoors section.

Depending on what time of day you get into Oregon from San Francisco or head for home, you may want to stop for the night in Ashland, which is several hours’ drive away from Crater Lake. Ashland has the most lodging and dining options of any town in the region, ranging from budget motels, bed-and-breakfasts to luxury accommodations. The historical Ashland Springs Hotel is among the best-known landmarks. It was renovated and completely redone several years ago. Rooms are small but charming and comfortable, and the restaurant downstairs is very good.

Answered by Sarah Lemon, Ask Oregon Expert
April 19th, 2012

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