You may believe you’ve seen blue before, but chances are you haven’t seen the cerulean shade in such a captivating color until you visit Crater Lake national park.
Rain and snow feed the water, making it one of the cleanest major bodies of water on the planet, with so few particles that it is exceptionally transparent.
Wizard Island, a cinder cone that broke out of the ocean and now juts out of the water, was created when the Mount Mazama volcano collapsed during a huge eruption almost 8,000 years ago.
There are several picture opportunities from the rim village visitor center and numerous hiking paths, fishing holes, and camping areas to explore around the park. Here’s everything you need to know and things to do in Crater Lake National Park, from where to stay to what to see.
1. Crater Lake is Located in Oregon
Klamath Falls and Medford are the nearest cities to Crater Lake, located in southern Oregon. It’s a terrific place to stop from California to Oregon, and it’s just 90 minutes from Bend. If you want to see more of the region, drive east to the Umpqua Hot Springs or head north an hour to the La Pine Lakes, including Odell Lake, Waldo Lake, and Paulina Lake.
While the park is accessible all year, several roads are closed due to snowfall on a seasonal basis, such as the park’s north entry road and Rim Drive, which close on November 1 and don’t return until at least May.
The Crater Lake Rim Drive Is a Scenic Drive Around the Rim of The Lake
The best way to see everything is to get in your vehicle and drive the Crater Lake national park rim drive, which is regarded as one of America’s most gorgeous drives. The 33-mile circle takes approximately an hour to complete, but you’ll want to set aside at least a couple of hours to soak in all of the excellent picture opportunities.
2. Is it Possible to Swim at Crater Lake?
Hiking down to Cleetwood Cove, the park’s single route that goes to the lake and where boat tours leave, is one of the most enjoyable things to do near Crater Lake national park.
The route winds through a forest of hemlocks and red fir trees, with fantastic vantage places overlooking the clear water, which acquires a dazzling blue tint towards the coast. You may cool down at the bottom by swimming in the lake!
The water temperature at Crater Lake national park varies from 0°C to 19°C depending on the season, so although it’s frigid even in the summer, it’s extremely pleasant.
3. The Best Time to Go
From July through September is the best time since all roads, hiking trails, and facilities are available to the public. Because of the region’s winter snow and persistent frost, visiting during other times of the year may result in restricted access.
Despite some restricted roads, visiting Crater Lake National Park during the winter months of November to early May is still a wonderful idea. After all, this is Oregon, and it’s just as beautiful in the winter as it is in the summer.
4. Year-Round Appeal
The coldest months are generally December through February, with significant snowfall and an average of 15 wet days each month. It’s a fantastic chance to observe the lake covered in gleaming snow while participating in winter sports.
Because the lake seldom freezes, the blue water against the white surroundings creates an appealingly stunning contrast.
During the remainder of the year, it’s a never-ending refuge for thrill-seekers and those looking to unwind in beautiful surroundings.
The hiking trails and roads are available to the public, the wind is warmer, the sun is shining, the panoramas are irresistibly appealing, and Crater Lake national park looks spectacular on bright days.
Whether you’re traveling as a family, a couple, or a solitary traveler, there’s something for everyone all year.
5. Activities and Places to Visit
Crater Lake National Park has plenty of beauty and activities, whether sunny or snowy, which is why it attracts millions of visitors each year. It contains some of the coolest natural structures, vast areas of woodland, mountain peaks, flowing streams, and a diverse range of flora and wildlife.
6. Crater Lake Winter Activities
Here are some great things to do in this winter paradise when the snow falls:
6.1. Walking on Snowshoes
It’s free, ranger-led, and available to children aged 8 and above. Snowshoe walks are low-impact sports that may be enjoyed by the entire family while enjoying the gleaming snow.
It’s suitable for children while also being fun for adults. Renting snowshoes is an option.
Cross-country skiing at Crater Lake national park is among the most exhilarating and picturesque in the United States. Skiing is best done along Rim Drive or into the woods, where you can enjoy the spectacular scenery.
Skiing within the protected caldera rim is restricted, but you may circle the lake anywhere permitted.
6.3. Crater Lake Sledding
There are plenty of excellent sledding locations with gentle slopes. Trails and settlements where sledding is allowed may be explored.
6.4. Crater Lake Snowmobiling
From December to March is the optimum time to accomplish this. A 9-mile track from the park’s north gate to the caldera rim is designated for snowmobiles.
Snowmobiling is prohibited beyond the North Junction and other snowy areas of the park.
6.5. Hiking on a Winter Trail
Beginners and amateurs will enjoy trails like the Discovery Point Trail and the Sun Notch Trail.
Cleetwood Cove Trail is a hiking trail located in Cleetwood Cove. Cleetwood Cove Trail is a challenging walk that descends 700 feet (213 meters) in 1.1 miles (1.7 km). The Discovery Point Trail, West Caldera Rim, Hemlock Loop, and Raven Trail provide easy to intermediate treks. Before you go, learn more.
6.6. Camping in the Wilderness
Some campgrounds need a permit from November to May, so make your reservation ahead of time.
The camp facilities give some contemporary comforts, but the night sky is ideal for stargazing.
The Rest of the Year’s Recreational Activities
Cliff Jumping is one of the things to do at Crater Lake national park.
7. Here Are Some Common Ways to Enjoy the Park Throughout the Rest of the Year:
7.1. Rim Drive is a Great Place to Hike or Hike
Rim Drive is a picturesque 33-mile path that offers spectacular views of Lake Michigan and other trails.
You may park your car, enjoy panoramic views, and completely immerse in nature’s splendor.
7.2. Tours on the Water
During the summer, boat trips around the caldera and up to Wizard Island are led by rangers. The boat cruises enable tourists to get up and personal with the lake and its islands.
7.3. Tours via Trolley
This is a more leisurely approach to appreciating Rim Drive’s breathtaking beauty. Trolley trips include many stops and a ranger who narrates facts and tales about the area.
7.4. Trails for Hiking
The park has a variety of hiking routes for all skill levels. There are family-friendly paths as well as popular trails that take you into ancient woodlands and wildflower-strewn meadows.
8. Things You Can’t Afford to Miss
8.1. Drive Along with The EIM Village
The Rim Drive is the main attraction of Crater Lake National Park. This 33-mile (53-kilometer) road around the whole lake is one of the best national park roads in the United States.
This magnificent journey in late Junelate Juneallows you to observe the lake from all sides. More than 30 pullouts and multiple trailheads flank the route, encouraging tourists to abandon their automobiles (unless they’re cycling the Rim Drive) and take in the breathtaking view.
The Crater Lake national park Rim Drive shuts on November 1 due to severe snowfall in the winter (or sooner in case of significant snowfall).
Almost all of the main attractions in Crater Lake National Park are located on or around Rim Drive. Driving the Crater Lake Rim Drive is the greatest way to view it. Driving the Crater Lake Rim Drive is the greatest way to view it. Crater Lake is the clear star of the show. Even though built-in, there are other locations of interest in other parts of the park
8.2. Take a Trip to the Crater Lake Lodge
The rustic Crater Lake national park Lodge, built-in 1915, is one of the principal manufactured Crater Lake National Park attractions.
It’s the ideal spot for a filling breakfast in the morning, a glass of wine in the afternoon in the Great Hall, or a well-deserved supper in the evening.
The lodge is one of the numerous old lodges in western national parks that serve as stunning examples of parking architecture. It is open from the middle of May through the middle of October.
8.3. Take a Trip to Wizard Island on A Boat
Because of its perfectly round, turquoise, and serene lake, Crater Lake National Park is unlike any other in the world. It also has another distinction: it is one of the few spots on the planet where you can view a volcano inside a volcano.
Wizard Island is a cinder cone that rises 763 feet (233 meters) above Crater Lake national park and is the pinnacle of an underwater volcano that rises 2,500 feet (762 meters) above the lake’s bottom.
While kayaking and canoeing are not permitted in Crater Lake to prevent the introduction of invasive species, boat trips to Wizard Island and around the lake are one of the many family-friendly activities available.
There are several choices, but the Wizard Island Shuttle is the most basic. The shuttle departs at Cleetwood Cove and travels up the steep Cleetwood Trail on the lake’s northern side.
Three hours on Wizard Island are allotted for hiking, exploration, and swimming.
8.4. Hike to The Top of Garfield Peak
Hiking is one of the most popular activities in Crater Lake National Park, apart from driving or cycling the Rim Drive.
Bring some day hike supplies and a decent Crater Lake map for an afternoon of volcanic exploring.
Garfield Summit, a steep and arduous 3.6-mile (5.8-kilometer) roundtrip to a dominating peak, is one of the top hikes in Crater Lake. The views of Crater Lake and the surrounding environment are stunning throughout the journey and at the peak.
Follow the paved path behind the Crater Lake Lodge to the trailhead at the eastern end of Rim Village. Allow 2 to 3 hours to complete this incredible trek.
More extended option: a strenuous 4.4-mile (7.1-kilometer) roundtrip hike to Mount Scott, the park’s highest peak; beautiful morning lake views
A shorter option is a moderate 1.6-mile (2.6-kilometer) roundtrip trek to Watchman Peak, which has panoramic views and is famous for sunset viewing.
8.5. Take in The View of The Sunrise Above Crater Lake
Watching the lodge sunrise several over the rim of Crater Lake National Park, softly lighting the landscape with yellows and oranges, is one of the park’s unquestionable highlights. Any pullout or viewpoint will suffice, but the Discovery Point Trail is my particular favorite.
This short route begins near the Crater Lake Lodge, although it may be reached from The campground locations along the West Rim village Drive’s initial segment.
This route appeals to me because of the many boulders, tree roots, and outcrops that provide wonderful photographic vantage points and foregrounds.
8.6. Take a Look at Plaikni Falls
Aside from Crater Lake, the national park boasts a plethora of other natural wonders to explore. Crater Lake National Park has many features, from towering forests to pumice plains and stunning waterfalls.
Plaikni Falls trail, an underestimated trek off the Rim village Drive along Pinnacles Road, is one of my favorite places in the park.
This short 2-mile (3.2-kilometer) roundtrip journey takes you through a beautiful old-growth forest to a lush waterfall with vibrant wildflowers, grassy areas, and several cascades.
8.7. Mazama Campground Is a Great Place to Stay
The Mazama Campground, located 7 miles (11 kilometers) south of Rim Village along Highway 62, is the finest spot to pitch your tent for the night. With 214 campsites, it’s a very big campground, although it never seems that way.
All of the campsites are designed with solitude and quiet in mind, so you’ll feel like you’re camping in the woods. Nonetheless, Mazama Village offers a variety of amenities, including a petrol station, café, laundry facilities, grocery store, drinking water, showers, and flush toilets.
After a good day outside, it’s the perfect place to relax with a nice drink over a campfire. It’s also the finest area to equip up and refuel before venturing farther into the park.
From June through September, Mazama Campground is available. All sites are first-come, first-served in June. During the remainder of the summer, 75% of the seats may be booked ahead of time, while the other 25% are first-come, first-served.
9. Crater Lake National Park Offers to Lodge Campgrounds
There are four different lodging options available in Crater Lake National Park.
9.1. Mazama Campground is Located in Mazama, Idaho
The park’s finest and biggest campsite, which accepts bookings for the bulk of its sites in July, August, and September.
9.2. Campground Lodge at Lost Creek:
The simple and considerably smaller Lost Creek Campground, which offers 16 tent sites, provides an alternative to Mazama Campground. From early July until mid-October, the park is open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis.
9.3. The Cabins in Mazama Village are as Follows:
From late May until late September, the park is open. You may hire one of the Mazama Village Cabins if you want a little more comfort. These accommodations, which are close to the Mazama Campground, provide a roof over your head, hot showers, and a bed.
9.4. Crater Lake Lodge is a Lodge Located on the Shores of Crater Lake
The most opulent hotel in Crater Lake National Park, with 71 magnificent rooms, an outstanding Great Hall, and a charming 1920s vibe. From late May until mid-October, the park is open.
Crater Lake Hospitality manages all Crater Lake lodgings save the Lost Creek Campground. Open hours, pricing, bookings, and other information may be found on their website.
10. How Long Should You Spend at Crater Lake National Park?
You’ll need at least one day, one night, and a (rental) automobile to properly appreciate Crater Lake’s enchantment.
It makes for a terrific, lengthy journey from Portland, for example. But, above all, it’s a must-see on any road trip through the Pacific Northwest’s national parks.
You now know what to do at Crater Lake National Park, and you’ll have a jam-packed day ahead of you at the campground. All this can be done in one day if you drive the Rim Drive, take a Crater Lake boat trip, and visit the Crater Lake Lodge.
However, I highly advise you to set aside another day for real trekking. Spend the night in the park, taking in the fantastic night sky, then explore some of the paths the following day.
Garfield Peak, Mount Scott, Plaikni Falls, and the Rim Trail to Watchman Peak are recommended treks.
If you’re wondering how long to stay at Crater Lake National Park, I recommend spending at least two days and one or two nights there.