All Around The Campfire

Little Crater Campground

During our long, long, long winter of so much snow, my main entertainment was reserving all the places I wanted to go over the summer. Way back in the dark and gloom of January, I booked a lakeside site at Little Crater Campground on Paulina Lake in the Newberry Volcanic Monument. We stayed there a few years ago for just a night, and I really wanted to go back.

Little Crater doesn’t have hookups, so we knew we’d need to stop for propane on the way. At the first place we stopped, we were able to get diesel, but the propane tank was blocked by a beer truck. We continued down the road and stopped at another place. The guy could not get the tank to take propane, and insisted it was something on our end. We decided to try another place. It filled just fine.

It’s quite a drive going up into Newberry Crater, because you climb and climb and climb. It’s at over 6000 feet. Little Crater isn’t one of those campground with lots of loops. It’s one long road with sites on either side. We had site 18. It was wonderful! And huge! The site was level, so set up took all of 5 minutes to put out the slides and drop the stabilizers. We made drinks, set up our chairs, and then walked the campground. I always like playing Peeping Tom and checking out other peoples setups. After that we spent a couple of hours sitting in our chairs by the lake, because it was way too pretty to not sit there on our own tiny beach.

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Saturday we decided to do part of the trail around the lake. The entire trail all the way around the lake is only about 7 miles, but we just wanted to walk to the hot springs 1.5 miles away and back. Something I forgot to mention is that we were in the middle of a huge butterfly migration. We didn’t know what they were, but it turns out they were California Tiger butterflies, and there were millions of them! It was amazing! We walked through huge swarms of them on the trail.

The hot springs run along the side of the lake (don’t forget that we are on a volcano!), and every year people come out in the spring and dig the springs out and surround them with logs. You can move the logs to add cold water. I stepped into several of varying temperatures. They aren’t very deep (maybe 12 inches), and they are only about 4′ x 4′ each, but there was easily a dozen of them along the shore. Based on the number of people hiding low behind kayaks strategically placed between the pools, I’m betting that some people go with the clothing optional theory. ¬†The 3 miles took us about 1.5 hours altogether since we weren’t rushing and stopped at the hot springs.


The next day our friends came up for the afternoon. We played in the lake and BBQ’d. I was surprised at how not cold the lake was considering the elevation. We hung out on our floaties while their dog swam and swam and swam. It was a nice, relaxing day. My husband was a little sad that we hadn’t put his fishing stuff back in the motorhome, but he survived. Know what? He still hasn’t put it back in the motorhome. Someday.


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