Encroaching Development

Throughout the years, Crater Lake National Park and the surrounding wildlands have seen a constant barrage of development proposals, some of which have come to fruition, some are pending, while others were thankfully put to a halt. Recent threats include the proposed buzzing of helicopter tours around the park. Wilderness, as recommended by the National Park Service, would help ensure the natural beauty of Crater Lake and the surrounding wildlands are preserved.


Artists rendition of the proposed gondola tour to Wizard Island in the 1950’s. Courtesy of Crater Lake Institute.

Previous Proposals
In the 1940’s, Crater Lake Superintendent Ernest Leavitt supported a proposal to blast and drill an inclined tunnel from the upper rim on the west side of the park down to the water below. Cars would be able to drive down to the waters edge and be greeted with a yacht harbor, concessions and boat rentals.

In the late 1950’s, Congressman Charles Porter visited Disneyland and was so inspired by the Skyway, he contacted the ride’s Swiss manufacturer to determine the cost and feasibility of building a gondola inside Crater Lake National Park. The idea was to transport untold numbers of visitors from the rim of the caldera to Wizard Island. Oregon Congressman Al Ullman responded by saying, “We don’t want a Coney Island atmosphere in our national parks,” with the National Park Service managers echoing similar sentiments. Fortunately, this plan was never brought to life and the scenery around the park remains intact for now.

“It seems to me that we should have regard for the many generations of park visitors to come. They can tolerate our failure to develop Crater Lake, but they will not forgive us for mutilation.” – Naturalist Carl P. Russel


Proposed gondola tour to Wizard Island. Courtesy of Crater Lake Institute.

Ensuring Preservation Through Wilderness
Throughout the decades, Crater Lake National Park has been witness to many development proposals. From a landing strip in the fragile Pumice Desert – an area so delicate visitors are no longer allowed to walk on it – to present day, with proposed helicopter tours buzzing around the rim of the lake. Instead of draining resources defending each new proposal, Crater Lake National Park staff have been advocating for Wilderness protection in the back country of the park for decades, partly to ensure that the tranquility and stunning scenery of Crater Lake remains natural for generations to come.