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 see Crater Lake.
Crater Lake National Park is one of Oregon’s most popular tourist destinations, thanks to its captivating color and claim to fame as the country’s deepest lake at 1,943 feet. 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’s exceptionally transparent.
Wizard Island, a cinder cone that broke out of the ocean and now juts out of the water, was formed after the Mount Mazama volcano collapsed following a huge eruption almost 8,000 years ago. There are numerous photo opportunities from the rim, as well as numerous hiking paths, fishing holes, and camping areas to explore around the park. Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Crater Lake National Park, from where to stay to what to see.
Where is Crater Lake?
Klamath Falls and Medford are the closest cities to Crater Lake, which is located in southern Oregon. It’s a terrific place to stop on your way from California to Oregon, and it’s only 90 minutes from Bend. If you want to see more of the area, drive east to the Umpqua Hot Springs, or an hour north to La Pine, where you’ll find a lovely chain of lakes includes Odell Lake, Waldo Lake, and Paulina Lake.
While the park is open all year, several roads are closed due to snowfall on a seasonal basis, such as the park’s north entrance road and Rim Drive, which close on November 1 and don’t return until at least May.
How It Became Crater Lake?
Mount Mazama, which climbed 12,000 feet above the Klamath Basin, previously stood where Crater Lake now stands. It erupted some 7,700 years ago, and the volcano’s walls subsequently crumbled, leaving a bowl-shaped caldera that filled with precipitation and snowfall over time. Although local American Indian tribes had long considered Mount Mazama and Crater Lake to be sacred, mystical places, the first European Americans visited the lake in 1853, and President Theodore Roosevelt designated Crater Lake as the country’s sixth national park in 1902. The park is now one of Oregon’s most popular tourist destinations, with over 500,000 people each year.
Things to do at Crater Lake
Most visitors combine the Rim Drive with a couple of hikes, but if time allows, other activities such as bicycling, boat tours, and stargazing should be included in your Crater Lake schedule. In the winter, go snowshoeing or winter camping, while in the summer, go swimming and fishing.
When You Should Visit?
Winter and summer are the only two seasons that Crater Lake National Park sees on a regular basis. Crater Lake gets its first snowfall in October or November, and it doesn’t melt until Memorial Day. The park receives an average of 43 feet of snow each year, making it the deepest lake in North America.
Snowshoeing or cross-country skiing around the rim is free (rangers lead snowshoe excursions between November and April), and multi-day hikes can be done by pitching a tent on the rim. (The only time of year when guests can camp within sight of the lake is during the winter.) However, keep in mind that most of the park’s facilities, including restaurants and campgrounds, are closed throughout the winter, so bring plenty of gear, gas, and food.
Between June and September, when the highest summer temperatures rarely exceed 80 degrees, the great majority of Crater Lake’s half-million visitors go to the park.
Best Crater Lake Hiking Trails
Plaikni Falls Trail
Taking a boat ride across to Wizard Island is one of the most iconic Crater Lake tours, and there are a few different alternatives available every day during the summer.
Take a two-hour cruise around the lake to observe natural structures like Phantom Ship up close, schedule a Wizard Island trip to cruise the lake’s perimeter before exploring the island, or take a shuttle straight to the island and spend the day hiking, swimming, and fishing. Tours can be scheduled at the park or online in advance.
Where To Stay
Rim Village is home to Crater Lake Lodge, the park’s landmark hotel, which was built in 1915 and overlooks the lake. The 71-room lodge, which was refurbished in the early 1990s, still has the rustic feel of its early days, notably in the Great Hall and dining room, which have wood-beamed ceilings, stone walls, and huge stone fireplaces that create a warm, intimate ambiance. From smoked salmon to wild mushrooms, the fine-dining menu in the dining room emphasises seasonal, sustainable ingredients farmed, raised, or caught in Oregon. You may order picnic box lunches in advance, even though it’s only open for breakfast and dinner. There are no phones or televisions in the standard-looking guest rooms, which offer modern conveniences but no phones or televisions.
The Cabins at Mazama Village, CLNP’s other village, is nestled in a Ponderosa pine woodland near Oregon Route 62. There are one or two queen beds in each of the 40 primitive cottages, as well as a private bathroom, but no TV or phone.
Mazama Campground has 214 tent and RV sites, each with a picnic table, fire ring, and bear-resistant food locker, as well as some with full connections. Restrooms and water spigots are also available. In June, all the summer-only campground’s sites ($21 to $43 a night) are first-come, first-served; in July, August, and September, 75 percent of the sites can be reserved in advance either online or by phoning 866-292-6720.