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Crater Lake, OR -- West vs. East Rim Drive? June or August?

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Hi there --

My husband and I (and our two young children) are planning a 2.5 week trip to Oregon. We haven't yet decided whether we're going to travel in June or August. We'd prefer to travel in June because the crowds will be much less and the timing just simply works better for our family. But Crater Lake seems like a must-see and we definitely want to include it in our travel plans (we'd also like to include time on the coast, in Portland and the Columbia Gorge).

In the hopes that June travel dates will work, I have a few questions about Crater Lake. If we travel in June, we'll likely travel from June 10th-June 26th. We'd plan to visit Crater Lake close to the end of our trip (read: June 22nd or 23rd). From what I've read, it sounds like the "East Rim Drive" will still be closed due to snow. But there seems to be some suggestion that the "West Rim Drive" usually opens in mid-June (I'm actually surprised that I can't locate more information about east vs. west!). So! Here are my questions:

- What is the difference between the West Rim and East Rim Drives?
- Is it fairly certain that the West Rim Drive will be open by late-June?
- Is it worth the drive to Crater Lake if we can only do the West Rim drive (or is it seriously worth postponing our entire trip to August in order to be able to do the East Rim drive too)? [I should add here that while my husband and I are avid hikers, with the two (very) young kids, we'll likely be limited to the car in any event, so the inability to hike in June doesn't make a difference here]
- if we do decide to postpone our trip to August, will the crowds at Crater Lake be crazy? I should add here that we really do love solitude during our travels and so if there is enough to see (i.e. some beautiful scenic views) in June, we'd likely prefer that...

This will be our first true trip since our second son was born and we're VERY excited! I've been quite active on fodors' forums in the distant past, but haven't been in a while... I can't wait to hear back with responses from all of you "Oregon experts"! Thanks in advance...


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