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Crater Lake National Park | Everything You Need to Know

The stunning Crater Lake National Park formed after Mount Mazama erupted and collapsed. Today, it is the deepest freshwater lake in the United States and a shockingly beautiful Oregon wonder!


Crater Lake comprises 183,224 acres of mountains, water, and forests. The elevation reaches more than 6,000 feet, so the park becomes a true winter paradise during the colder months and a well-loved retreat for both locals and tourists during the summer.




What to Expect at Crater Lake?

Crater Lake is one of Oregon's most popular tourist destinations. The park sees over 750,000 visitors a year, meaning that if you go during peak season, you're not going to be alone!


Luckily, the lake does offer wintertime sports, like snowshoeing, and a magical atmosphere that makes visiting the lake in any season worthwhile.


Did you know? Crater Lake is one of the 7 wonders of Oregon!

Some things to keep in mind when visiting:

  • Dogs are allowed inside Crater Lake National Park.

  • Most campgrounds are only open in the summer.

  • There are five backcountry campgrounds.

  • The lake is RV-friendly in the summer when there is no snow on the roads.

  • This park is very popular and will likely be crowded.

  • Bring a jacket! Weather changes very quickly because of the elevation.

  • In the winter, blizzards and hazardous cold conditions are possible.

  • You can take a boat tour of the lake but don't be late!




Map of Crater Lake

Use the map below to get directions to Crater Lake National Park!



Crater Lake National Park Weather

Generally, summers reach high temperatures of around 70 and lows in the 40s. In the winter, you can expect highs in the mid-to-high 30s and lows in the 20s (or even colder!).

Crater Lake in the snow
Crater Lake in the snow

If you're looking for a classic, sunny-day experience, the best time to visit Crater Lake National Park is in the summer when the spring snow has melted.



But we also love Crater Lake in the snow. It gives the national park a different look (making it worth it to come back in multiple seasons!), plus snowshoeing around the lake is an unbeatable experience.


Did you know? Crater Lake National Park is the fifth-oldest national park in the United States.

Crater Lake National Park Camping

Campsites at Crater Lake include the Mazama Campground and the Lost Creek Campground. The park also has five backcountry campsites that offer no amenities.


Mazama Campground

Located at 6,000 feet in elevation, the Mazama Campground is closed in the off-season but is a very popular destination for visitors to Crater Lake in the summer.


Features of Mazama Lake Campground

  • 214 sites

  • Picnic tables

  • Fire rings and grills

  • Bear lockers

  • Near the park's south entrance

  • No cellphone reception

  • Potable water available

Mazama Campground Seasonal Opening

The campground is open from July 1st to September 24th every year. Book a spot at this campsite here.



Lost Creek Campground

The Lost Creek Campground is a smaller site with space for sixteen tents and does not permit campfires.


Features of Lost Creek Campground

  • 16 tent sites

  • No cellphone reception

  • Bear lockers

  • No water

  • Portable toilets

  • Campfires are not allowed

  • Gas stoves and self-contained charcoal grills are allowed.

Lost Creek Campground Seasonal Opening

The campground is open from early July to mid-October every year. But, it will not open for the 2022 season. Read more about the campsite here.


Mazama Village Cabins

The Cabins at Mazama Village are seven miles from Rim Village and provide visitors with a dependable, newly renovated place to stay while visiting Crater Lake National Park in Washington. These cabins are ideal for visitors looking for a more luxurious experience at Crater Lake.


Features of Mazama Village Cabins

  • Set within the woods

  • Near family-friendly restaurants and gift shops

  • Near grocery store and camping store.

  • Firewood and gasoline are available.



Mazama Village Cabins Seasonal Opening

The Mazama Village Cabins open on May 20th and close again on September 25th. Book your stay here.


Crater Lake at sunset
Crater Lake at sunset


Crater Lake National Park Hotels

Some of the many hotels near Crater Lake National Park are: Crater Lake Lodge, Crater Lake Resort, and Aspen Inn. Read more about these below.


Crater Lake Lodge

A popular option for visitors looking to escape the crowds at the lake and the heat or cold or the season. It overlooks Rim Village and offers incredible lake views throughout the year. There are standard, deluxe, and loft rooms available for all budgets.


Keep in mind, though, that the lodge is often booked up during the summer months, so plan ahead!



Crater Lake Resort

The Crater Lake Resort offers cabins, lodgings, high-class glamping tents, RV sites, and large tent spaces. The resort has something to offer anyone coming to Crater Lake, from those looking for a more affordable option to those hoping to stay in a hotel atmosphere.


The resort cabins and glamping sites are very popular! Make sure to book at least a few months in advance if you want to visit during the peak summer season.


Aspen Inn

The Aspen Inn is a family-owned establishment close to Crater Lake National Park. It's open seasonally from April 1st to October 31st. They offer beautiful a-frame cabins, standard rooms with queen-sized beds, suites, and a species, 1,000-ft Wagon House with two bedrooms for rent.


Did you know? Crater Lake is 1,943 feet deep and is the deepest freshwater lake in the United States!


Things to do at Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake offers a wide range of activities that appeal to any visitor. From traveling the 33-mile Rim Drive to hiking, seeking out wildflowers, taking a boat tour on the lake, camping, and planning fishing excursions.


Biking is also quite popular at Crater Lake. In fact, the National Park hosts pre-planned "vehicle-free days," allowing bikes to travel the Rim Drive road without cars.




Crater Lake with Wizard Island in the foreground
Crater Lake with Wizard Island in the foreground

Crater Lake National Park Boat Tour

We highly recommend taking a boat tour of Crater Lake! This is an unmissable activity that will remain the highlight of your visit. It's no doubt the best way to see the lake.


The tour takes visitors out to Wizard Island in the middle of the lake, where you can get off and hike a 2.2-mile trail. Some of the options available include:

  • Wizard Island Shuttle: to get you quickly to the island and back.

  • Wizard Island Tours: travel the lake's perimeter and spend time on the island.

  • Standard Lake Cruise: 2-hour tour around the lake with up-close views of Wizard Island and more.


The Best Crater Lake Hikes

Hiking is perhaps the most popular activity at the lake. Take a look at our picks for the top 5 hikes at Crater Lake:


1. Mount Scott Trail

A 4.2-mile out-and-back hike ascends Mount Scott, the highest point of Crater Lake. We highly recommend this hike. You'll get some of the best views in the park with only a moderately difficult ascent to contend with.

​Elevation Gain

Distance

​Time Required

Difficulty

1,259 feet

4.2 miles

2.5 hours

5/10

Mount Scott Trailhead Coordinates: 43.094405542152856, -122.05769858440092



2. The Watchman Peak Trail

A 1.7-mile, moderate trail that only takes around an hour to finish. It's an out-and-back style hike meaning that you'll have to turn around and return the same way you came.

​Elevation Gain

Distance

​Time Required

Difficulty

​400 feet

1.7 miles

1 hour

3/10

The Watchman Peak Trail Coordinates: 43.09497693912917, -122.15097771580217



3. Crater Lake Rim Scenic Drive Hike

A view along the Rim Drive trail
A view along the Rim Drive trail

A long, 50-mile hike around the rim of Crater Lake on the Rim Drive (you might also want to drive this road instead!) It gains more than 5,800 feet and allows you views of the entire lake for hours. Also, unless you plan to walk non-stop, you'll need to have a camping option (or two!) reserved in advance.


​Elevation Gain

Distance

​Time Required

Difficulty

5,800

50 miles

24 hours

​8/10

Crater Lake Rim Scenic Drive Trailhead Coordinates: 43.23714394236935, -122.12900065137303


A view of Wizard Island in the middle of Crater Lake
A view of Wizard Island in the middle of Crater Lake

4. Wizard Island Trail

The Wizard Island Trail is another popular Crater Lake hiking trail. It's on the small island at the center of Crater Lake, meaning you'll need to take a boat to get there. You can't camp on the island, so make sure to plan to take a boat back.


​Elevation Gain

Distance

​Time Required

Difficulty

751 feet

2.3 miles

1.5 hours

​4/10

Wizard Island Trail Coordinates: 43.12883992870002, -122.13999179423567



5. Garfield Peak Trail

The popular Garfield Peak trail is a moderately difficult excursion that takes hikers on an out-and-back, 3.4-mile journey. It's one of the more popular hikes in the park because it is so close to Rim Village and Crater Lake Lodge. From the summit, you can see the remnants of Mount Mazama, Wizard Island, and more.

Elevation Gain

Distance

Time Required

Difficulty

​1,000 feet

3.4 miles

​3 hours

5/10

Garfield Peak Trail Coordinates: 43.028365602012514, -122.12900620183862


Crater Lake Photo Gallery


Have you visited Crater Lake National Park? Tell us about your experience in the comments!

Are you going to Crater Lake soon? What do you want to know?



FAQs

How big is Crater Lake National Park?

Crater Lake National Park is over 183,224 acres. This includes the lake, the surrounding peaks, forestland, and more. The lake itself has a surface area of 20.6 sq miles.


When was Crater Lake National Park established?

Crater Lake National Park was established in 1902 and is the fifth-oldest national park in the United States. It is also the only National Park in Oregon.


Where is Crater Lake National Park?

Crater Lake National Park is in south-central Oregon, in Klamath county. The nearest city is Klamath Falls.


How many days in Crater Lake National Park?

An ideal visit to Crater Lake is at least three days long. One day for exploring the lake on foot via one of the many beautiful hiking trails, one for a boat tour, and one for visiting Rim Village and exploring the neighboring shops and restaurants.


Where to stay near Crater Lake National Park?

You can stay at one of several campsites or Crater Lake Lodge, Crater Lake Resort, Aspen Inn, or several other popular establishments nearby.


How high is the Crater Lake National Park visitor center?

The Crater Lake National Park visitor's center is at an elevation of 6,450 feet.


How deep is Crater Lake?

Crater Lake is 1,943 feet deep and is the deepest lake in the United States. It is the second-deepest lake in North America, second only to Great Slave Lake in Canada.



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