The inside of this March 1929 menu is identical to a previous menu that featured Bryce Canyon National Park on the outside. Outside, this menu pictures and describes Crater Lake, Oregon’s only national park. Crater Lake isn’t on the Union Pacific, but people from the East and Midwest going to the park could take the Union Pacific to get to the Southern Pacific, whose trains stopped near the park.
The description of the park on the back of the menu invites people to rent “rowboats and launches” and fish for the “rainbow and black spotted trout” that were stocked in the lake. To keep the water pure, the Park Service no longer allows these activities in the lake.
When this menu was made, one of the most popular ways to get to the park was to take the Southern Pacific to the little town of Kirk, Oregon, and then take a stage or motor coach through the park’s east entrance. With the rise of auto travel, that entrance attracted only 35 cars in 1955, so the Park Service closed it in 1956, reopening it only briefly in 1971 and 1972. The entrance still exists, complete with a welcoming sign, but it is accessible only on foot and bicycle.
In 1929, Crater Lake recorded 128,435 visitors during its three-month season. Starting in 1935, the Park Service kept the road to the south rim (where Crater Lake Lodge is located) open year round, leading to a near-doubling of visitors. Reported visitation peaked in 1977 at 578,300, but for the last decade or so it has hovered around 440,000, reaching 447,251 tourists in 2012. It is possible that the apparent decline since 1978 is due to a change in reporting methods.