Dates Visited: June 22-25, 2010.
Check current rates and availability: Crystalwood Lodge (866) 381-2322.
  • Rates: $95 to $150 (year round)
  • Pet Fee: None
  • No. Units: 7
  • Min Stay: None
  • Location: Fort Klamath, OR
  • Parking: free (lot)
  • Kid-Friendly: Yes
  • Dog-Friendly: Yes

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

Crystalwood Lodge co-owner Liz Parrish, who completed the Iditarod in 2008.

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.

Crystalwood Lodge

Entrance to the Crystalwood Lodge property.

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.

Crystalwood Lodge

Front of the lodge. The door leads into the living room, with the dining room off to the right.

Crystalwood Lodge

The right side of the lodge, when facing its front. Our family stayed in the room up top with access to the deck with all the windows.

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.

Crystalwood Lodge

We liked the idea of having our own private entrance, which made nighttime and early morning puppy potty runs much easier.

Crystalwood Lodge

Our separate entrance came with is own cozy breakfast nook and sitting area that looks out over the property and the Crystal Spring and Creek heading into Upper Klamath Lake.

Crystalwood Lodge

Our family stayed in the McGrath (largest) Room.

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.

Crystalwood Lodge

The comfy cozy living room. We ate most of our meals at the tables off to the left.

Crystalwood Lodge

And we spent our evenings curled up on the couches watching DVDs (except Holly Puppy, who chilled on the rug).

Crystalwood Lodge

Cooking our meals in a real commercial kitchen was a pretty cool experience! While the lodge no longer functions as a bed and breakfast, the owners give guests full use of their incredible commercial kitchen.

Crystalwood Lodge

The main dining room, situated between the living room and the kitchen. Since we were the only guests, we never ate a single meal here -- choosing instead to eat in the living room.

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.

Crystalwood Lodge

Unfortunately, we didn't get to explore as much of the grounds as we had hoped because the extremely late snow season and thaw resulted in a freakishly heavy mosquito season during our stay. No, that's not rain on our windshield -- it's dead mosquitos.

Crystalwood Lodge

We did take advantage of breaks in the mosquito swarms to explore a bit around the inn. This is a little pond located on the way to Liz's Itidarod dog kennels.

Crystalwood Lodge

Hunter and Holly check out some of the homesteader gravestones located on the property.

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.

Crystalwood Lodge

Holly Puppy got to take a bath in a real live Iditarod sled dog bath!

Crystalwood Lodge

A look at Liz's Iditarod sled.

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.

Crystalwood Lodge

Liz's own sled dogs, as well as those that she boards and trains.

Crystalwood Lodge

The kids had an absolute blast getting to feed the sled dogs.

Crystalwood Lodge

This was an experience the kids will remember forever.

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.

Crater Lake National Park

Spectacular views along Crater Lake Highway (Highway 62).

Crater Lake National Park

Holly Puppy was as surprised as the rest of us to find Crater Lake National Park still under so much snow at the end of June!

Crater Lake National Park

Did I mention snow?! Freshly snowplowed Rim Drive had roadside snowbanks almost as high as an RV at some points.

Crater Lake National Park

But, beautiful Crater Lake still stands as majestic as ever!

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake lived up to my childhood memories of it being an awe-inspiring wonder!

Crater Lake National Park

The kids were a bit blown away. They had no idea what to expect out of majestic Crater Lake.

Crater Lake National Park

This is how I remember Crater Lake from my childhood...so clear and blue, pristine and perfect.

Crater Lake National Park

Having only seen Crater Lake (as a kid) in clear sunny weather, I actually really loved this chance to see it laced with snow.

Crater Lake National Park

Family shot!

Crater Lake National Park

The northern stretch of Rim Drive was, unfortunately, still closed in late June due to heavy snow.

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.

Fort Klamath

We hit the historic town and site of Forth Klamath on our way back from Crater Lake.

Fort Klamath

Cows! Set against stunning mountains.

Fort Klamath

A look back at Crater Lake.

Fort Klamath

An eagle's nest along Falls Highway, north of Klamath Falls.

Recommendation

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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