When we were there on the July long weekend in 2002 we didn't have to pay the entrance fee either. There were not many people there and the hike we wanted to do was roped off because...oh my gosh...there was snow on the ground! Same thing a few days earlier at Bump Pass Hell, we just jumped the rope there and did it anyway. Crater Lake is the most gorgeous color, sort of like Tundra Lake in the Stein, such a deep deep blue. It is a very neat place, thanks for sharing.
Here's a couple shots from when we were there that again shows the immense size and beautiful color.