National Park Service plans to terminate Crater Lake hospitality contract over unsafe conditions

By Roman Battaglia (Jefferson Public Radio)
Feb. 18, 2024 2 p.m. Updated: Feb. 20, 2024 3:40 p.m.

The federal agency’s decision comes after ongoing problems with basic health and safety standards

A panorama view of Crater Lake on a sunny day with Wizard Island in the center.

FILE - Crater Lake, with Wizard Island center, is seen on July 17, 2021. Aramark provides boat tours to the island.

Meagan Cuthill / OPB


Since 2018, Aramark has provided nearly all visitor services at Oregon’s only national park, including food, gift shops, boat tours and lodging through a company it owns called Crater Lake Hospitality.

In a statement, Aramark said it continues to take steps to improve conditions. However, according to annual reports by the Park Service, the quality of their service has worsened since 2019. Last year’s report describes diesel fuel leaks, food safety violations and a significant number of visitor complaints.

“Despite being required to develop a corrective action plan after the marginal rating during their public health inspection, the cleanliness and food safety issues persisted throughout the entire season,” reads the 2023 report.


Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden recently criticized Aramark for some of these same failings. And former staff have described the conditions of employee housing as “disgusting” and “filthy.”

Related: Wyden says the company managing hospitality at Crater Lake is failing to fulfill its responsibilities

Aramark’s 2023 review was the worst rating it’s received since taking over operations at Crater Lake.

In a written statement, Park Service Regional Director David Szymanski said, “Termination would be an extremely rare action, and one we don’t take lightly. But consistent failures to meet contract requirements led to our notice of intent to terminate this contract to protect visitors and park resources.”

The contract termination would affect the Oregon Caves National Monument as well, which is also managed by Aramark. Szymanski said the contract would be terminated unless Aramark can provide a reason why it shouldn’t be.

The Park Service did not provide a timeline on how soon Aramark could be kicked out of the park. If that does happen, the Park Service would find a short-term contractor to take over operations.

Correction: The initial version of this story misspelled the National Park Service.