|Dates Visited: June 22-25, 2010.|
|Check current rates and availability: Crystalwood Lodge (866) 381-2322.|
Although Jeff, the kids, Holly (our Beagle) and I visited this wonderful spot last summer, I wanted to write it up and share it with you still because the inn was such a cool experience. And the inn just celebrated its 10th anniversary! So, it is kind of the perfect timing to share this post.
When planning our family vacation along historic Highway 395 last summer, Jeff and I investigated lodging options in the Crater Lake area to serve as base camp in between our first few nights in Mammoth and our planned layover in Corvallis, Oregon, to celebrate Jeff’s grandmother’s 98th birthday. Crystalwood Lodge, located just south of Fort Klamath, Oregon, kept showing up in my searches for kid and dog-friendly lodging that provided access to a kitchen. The more we read, the more convinced we became that we absoluely had to stay here.
Crystalwood Lodge is a historic former bed and breakfast located in between Crater Lake and Klamath Falls, set on 130 acres of beautiful property along the Upper Klamath National Wildlife Refuge. The property, located near Fort Klamath — a military outpost that protectd this section of the Oregon Trail — was first homesteaded in the late 1800s.
The property and inn is co-owned by Liz Parrish, a smart, friendly, fascinating woman who completed the Iditarod in 2008 to celebrate her 50th birthday — after a life filled with the challenges of overcoming cancer, scoliosis and fybromialgia (you can read more about her in this article published by her alma mater Rice University). To call Liz a dog lover is a total understatement. Crystalwood Lodge is beyond just “dog-friendly” — dogs are allowed everywhere except in the kitchen (health agency regulations) and on the leather sofa (claws can tear the leather). And the entire inn is docorated in an Itidarod theme, with each guest room named after a stop along the famous race trail.
When we arrived late in the afternoon, the inn was unlocked, warm, cozy and inviting. Just waiting for us. Almost immediately after going inside, Liz and her 16 year gentle old retired sled dog Brick (Brick just recently died) came in through the back entrance to welcome us, show us around and get us situated in our room. Liz lives in the guest house behind the inn, so she’d check in daily and then let us have the run of the place.
To economize as much as possible on this trip, we booked the largest room in the inn — the McGrath Room, which includes three beds and a private entrance. While it was super clean and cozy, Jeff and I both agreed that we probably should have booked a separate room for the kids to share.
We totally scored during out stay at Crystalwood Lodge. As its only guests these particular few days, we had the full run of the inn. Literally. We could not believe our luck to have the entire beautiful cozy lodge to ourselves. Total privacy, filled with regular visits from Brick — the retired sled dog.
The inn is situated on 130 acres of beautiful property that includes trails, bird watching and canoeing. We had every intention of exploring the grounds each afternoon upon our return back from each daytime excursion. But, the late June snow and thaw resulted in a freakishly large mosquito hatch that kept our time at Crystalwood Lodge restricted mostly to indoors. Liz assured us this was a very odd season, and we take her word for it. We do hope to return again some late summer or fall to explore more.
Located in a little shed next to the inn is the sled dog bath and grooming equipment. Hollly Puppy got a bit dirty and muddy during our outings, so the kids took this opportunity to give her a good cleaning.
On our second afternoon at the inn, the kids took Liz up on her kind repeated offer to visit and help feed the sled dogs. None of us were quite sure what to expect, but it certainly wasn’t this! The dogs live in a huge fenced in section of Liz’s property and were so gentle and friendly. Holly Puppy and Jeff hung outside the kennel area (Liz did warn us that the dogs might overwhelm Holly), while I ventured inside to snap photos of the kids interacting with the dogs.
Close to Crater Lake
Crater Lake National Park is just a short distance from Crystalwood Lodge, approximately 33 miles of spectacular scenery. From the entrance to the inn property, swing a right and follow Westside Road (County Highway 1349) until you reach the town of Forth Klamath, where Weed Road East turns into Crater Lake Highway.
While the views along Crater Lake Highway are beautiful, the big pay off is definitely Crater Lake itself. Always majestic. Always humbling and awe-inspiring. And, still surrounded by snow even in late June 2010 (we heard it was the same this year, in late June 2011). But, although Rim Drive North, and most of our intended hiking trails, were still closed due to heavy snow, the day trip up to the lake was a big hit with the kids…who thought Crater Lake was just going to be a regular old lake on a mountain.
Near Historic Fort Klamath
Crystalwood Lodge is situated near beautiful historic Klamath Falls, a military outpost along the Oregon Trail founded in 1863, and a national historic landmark located just south of the community by the same name. On our drive back from Crater Lake, we took the long way back, driving all around Agency Lake and Upper Klamath Lake to soak in the scenery, history and charm.
Jeff and I highly recommend Crystalwood Lodge for families, as well as couples and friends who travel with dogs. The property is beautiful, peaceful and a destination in itself. And the inn is immaculate, yet incredibly warm and inviting. We are already starting to talk with friends about planning a future grown-ups-only (and dogs) trip back up here next year or the following year to rent out the entire inn for a 4 or 5 day weekend during the fall season.
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