Exploring the Crater Lake National Park

Exploring the Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park: General Summary

The Crater Lake National Park is a breathtaking and heavenly wonderland located in Oregon, United States. It is home to the gorgeous Crater Lake which happens to be the deepest lake in the United States with a maximum depth of 1,949 feet (594 m).

The fresh water of the lake is some of the clearest and cleanest water found anywhere in the world. The “crater” part refers to the caldera that was formed when a violent volcano erupted over 7700 years ago. The eruption left behind a crater in the middle of a mountainous region that was filled by natural rain and glacier water, forming this striking lake that became the main feature of the Crater Lake National Park.

Some other famous features of the park include the Pumice Desert, the Pinnacles, Union and Crater Peaks, Rim Drive, Steel Bay, the old-growth forests, and the Pacific Crest Trail. The park offers a variety of hiking and camping opportunities. It is also a great place for fishing enthusiasts as the lake offers unlicensed fishing opportunities.


Date of Establishment

A USGS expedition to study the Crater Lake was started in 1886 by William Gladstone Steel, an American Journalist, and geologist Clarence Dutton. It was based on the data collected from this expedition and excessive lobbying efforts by Steel that the Crater Lake National Park was established by then US President, Theodore Roosevelt, on the 22th May, 1902. Now, the park receives over 700,000 visitors each year, and the number keeps growing with each passing year.


Popular Season to Visit

The Crater Lake National Park is fully accessible during the late summer and early fall months. The park sees heavy snowfall from winter through spring, which renders the trails and roads leading to the park inaccessible. The months of July, August, September, and even early October are ideal for a visit to this park, since the roads, especially the ever-popular Rim Drive, tend to be clear of snow. All flower lovers should visit the park in fall since late July and early August are the months that offer vivid views of blooming wildflowers on the trail.


Introduction

The Crater Lake National Park is located in Southern Oregon, United States and is quite far removed from civilization. The closest metropolitan to the park is Portland, and it is about 4.5 hours or 250 miles away. The park is known for the striking and expansive Crater Lake that sits in a literal crater made by the eruption of an ancient volcano.


Before this eruption, the area was completely mountainous – in fact, the exact hollow that holds the lake used to be a mountain peak, known as Mount Mazama. The volcanic eruption ended up creating the deepest lake in the United States that holds about 4.9 trillion gallons of water!


The Crater Lake National Park covers about 183,224 acres of land. The rim of the caldera has an elevation range of 7,000 to 8,000 feet (2,100 to 2,400 m). The elevation of the lake surface noted by the United States Geological Survey is 6,178 feet (1,883 m). Crater Lake has no rivulets or streams of fresh water flowing into or out of it. The lake gets its striking blue water from rain and snow. The water that amasses in the lake evaporates or seeps underground. The lake is then replenished the following year with fresh water from the skies and the ground above.


The park can see temperatures as low as -3.7 °F (-19.8 °C) during peak winter time! January is the coldest month with an average low temperature of 18 °F (-8 °C). The park also receives measurable amounts of snow during the winter season that runs through September to June. The average annual snowfall that the Crater Lake National Park sees is 533 inches (1,350 cm). The snow accumulated in the park by early spring is usually 10 to 15 feet (3.0 to 4.6 m) deep! Hence, most of the roads that lead to the park remain closed through spring. The snow melts away in late summer, and snowfall is highly uncommon in the months of July and August, when the park is at its peak glory and the weather is ideal for visitors to explore the park. However, for skiing fans, the winter season is ideal for a visit to the park.


Although the Crater Lake National Park sees snowfall for eight months during a year, the Crater Lake hardly ever freezes over. The colossal depth of the lake acts as a heat basin that soaks up and locks in sunlight. This allows it to maintain its surface and base temperature all through a calendar year at a typical 55 °F (13 °C) and 38 °F (3 °C) respectively. The surface temperature of the lake does fluctuate a little, but the base temperature remains the same.


Anyone who has been to the Crater Lake National Park even once certifies that they’ve seen nothing like it. If you’re a fan of miraculously formed geological wonders that take your breath away, then this is the place you should visit for an unforgettable vacation. With its naturally brilliant blue color and small unusually formed rock islands, the Crater Lake National Park is a glorious sight to behold. The serene and romantic sunsets at the lake are a popular reason why tourists flock to this park. The picturesque and undisturbed landscape and various striking views that the rim offers are sure to inspire you. But wait! There is more!


There is wildlife in and near the park – including bears, deer, eagles, owls, hawks, and grouse. During summertime, songbirds and insectivorous birds can be seen all around the park. Crater Lake holds a limited number of fish (salmon and trout mostly) that were introduced by mankind – there is no indigenous fish in the lake. The park’s plant life is primarily fir and pine trees. However, the late summer and early autumn seasons see a rise of exotic wildflowers that cover the meadows and make for a splendid and colorful view.


Crater Lake continues to mesmerize tourists from all over the world. What was once a tall mountain is now an expansive and gorgeous lake. The uniqueness of this lake comes from its remarkably deep blue color that is only exaggerated by its clear contrast with the rush and ochre tones of the rock bodies that surround it. The intensity of this striking color is a result of the green and blue light waves that reflect off the clear and colorless surface of the lake water. The Crater Lake enjoys such pristine water thanks to the lack of any suspended sediment – the lake gets its water intake directly by rainfall rather than by a brook.


Visitors also head to the park to marvel at the breath-taking natural rock formations of the Phantom Ship and Wizard Island Today that stand on the Crater Lake. Plus, this park offers delightful opportunities for outdoor adventures such as hiking and camping. It is also an ideal place for fishing, boating, and swimming. Offering many attractions, your visit to the Crater Lake National Park might just be the refreshing and inspiring encounter that you’ve been craving for all this time.


So, let’s dive into the world of the Crater Lake National Park and see the wonders that lie there!



A Brief History

The Crater Lake National Park sits in southwestern Oregon, US, almost 50 miles (80 km) northeast of Medford. The park comprises of the Crater Lake, which is located in a colossal volcanic caldera, has hills and covers an area of 286 square miles (741 square km). The park had more than 90 miles (145 km) of hiking trails by the early 21st century.

The volcanic crater from which the lake was created, which stands at a diameter of about 6 miles (10 km), is the relic of Mount Mazama, a volcano that rose to 12,000 feet (3,700 meters) until it massively erupted about 7,700 years ago and destroyed the peak of the mountain. The subsequent eruptions resulted in cinder cone formations on the base of the caldera; one such cone, Wizard Island, stands 764 feet (233 meters) above the surface of the lake.

Crater Lake has an average depth of about 1,500 feet (457 meters) and an average surface elevation of 6,173 feet (1,881 meters) above sea level. An underwater mapping done in 2000 found that the maximum depth of the lake is 1,943 feet (592 meters), which makes it the deepest lake in the United States and the seventh deepest lake in the world. The water body of the Crater Lake is remarkably clear and you can often see clearly to a depth of over 100 feet (30 meters).

Archaeological findings made at Fort Rock Cave, which is almost 55 miles (90 km) northeast of Mount Mazama, suggest that humans were near the park area when the volcano erupted. And not long after the principal eruption, the region near the Crater Lake was populated by the Klamath and Modoc American Indian tribes. Interestingly enough, the lake holds particular importance to the Native Americans – it is a revered place frequented by medicine men, shamans, and other religious individuals during their search for vision and higher-meaning.

John Wesley Hillman was the first white American who stumbled across the lake on June 12, 1853. He was a part of a group of gold prospectors who had come to Southern Oregon and were searching for provisions when they came across the sloping mountain and the gorgeous blue lake. They decided to name the lake "Deep Blue Lake," and the southwest side of the rim from where he initially spotted the lake came to be renowned as Discovery Point. However, the name “Deep Blue Lake” did not stick for long since the locals preferred to call it “Crater Lake”. In 1870, William Gladstone Steel showed a keen interest in Crater Lake and with his enduring efforts and lobbying, the US President, Theodore Roosevelt, finally established the area as a National Park on 22th May 1902. Later on, Crater Lake Lodge was established in 1915 and the construction of the Rim Drive – the main road to the park – was finished in 1918.


Geological Formation

The Crater Lake National Park is based in a range of large volcanic mountains called the High Cascades. The volcanic movement in this region occurs because of subduction that takes place off the coast of Oregon. It occurs when the Juan de Fuca Plate— the tectonic plate— slips under the North American Plate. Compression and heat produced by this friction led to the creation of the Cascade Range.

Mount Mazama – the volcanic mountain that eventually created the Crater Lake – was built the same way almost 400,000 years ago. Ultimately, alternating levels of pyroclastic and lava flows took Mazama's overlapping cones to a height of almost 11,000 feet (3,400 m). As Mazama grew in size, many other volcanoes formed in the park and its surrounding areas. The major small volcanoes that formed with Mazama are cinder cones – there are about 11 cinder cones within the park and about 11 on its outskirts.

In around 5700 BC, the Mazama caved in on itself and lost 2,500 to 3,500 feet (760 to 1,070 m) in height due to a massive volcanic eruption. The eruption left a huge caldera that was completely filled up after a period of 740 years with pristine water that is now known as the Crater Lake.

The volcanic eruption also obliterated a huge chunk of the surrounding area. The ash produced during this obliteration developed into a soil known as andisol. The soil in the park is dark or grayish-brown loam and has stones, cobbles, and gravel scattered all over it. It is slightly acidic and highly draining. It also adds a quaint charm to the park. Crater Lake National Park is a must-visit. Let’s talk about how you should plan your itinerary when you are visiting this park.


Planning Your Itinerary

We’ve already discussed above that the Crater Lake National Park is known for its gorgeous and clear-water expansive lake and the surrounding rim that offers beautiful trails and strikingly picturesque views of the park. Hence, there’s no doubt that the major chunk of your itinerary will involve trailing and exploring these landscapes.


When to Visit

As a vacation spot that is laden with stunning geology, the best time to appreciate the park’s natural beauty is when the ground and mounts are green and the lake water is clear and reflecting the greenery of the surrounding rim. So, the ideal time to visit is anywhere between late summer to autumn – late July to early October. At this time, you will find the roads leading to the park to be clear of snow.

However, the park is pretty crowded during these months since most visitors prefer them over the harsher winter months, when the park and the surrounding roads are covered in snow. If you plan a visit to the park during summers, make sure to visit the lake in the early hours of the morning – before 10 am. The Rim Road is not swarmed with people early in the morning, so you can easily find an ideal spot to enjoy the views of the park.


How to Reach the Park

There are three ways through which you can enter the Crater Lake National Park. The most suitable for the west and south is the Westside entrance. To reach the west entrance, you will have to drive on Ore. 62 northeast from Medford.

Then there is the south entrance which is near the Klamath Falls. To reach the south entrance, you will first have to travel north on U.S. 97, next, you will have to go northwest on Ore. 62. The entire distance to the park is 60 miles.

Lastly, there is the park’s north entrance which you can access from Roseburg. This entrance is only open during the summers since the road gets blocked by snow during winters. To access the park via the north entrance, you will have to head east on Ore. 138. The entire distance to the Rim Drive is about 92 miles.


How Long to Stay

We would recommend that you stay at the park for a little longer than one day. You can take in the views of the park and the lake through your car. The next morning you can take an early boat ride and enjoy the striking views of the rim and the lake. Make sure to rise early for the ride since ticket queues start to form as early as 8 am. You can also spend ample time hiking in the nearby areas and thoroughly explore the park and the trails less traveled on.


Where to stay

If you want the rustic and historic charm of National Park lodges, then we would recommend that you stay at the Crater Lake Lodge. It was originally built in 1915, but it was revamped in 1994. The rooms at the lodge are small and booking is costly. You can also stay at Mazama Campground, the Cabins at Mazama Village, and the Lost Creek Campground. The Cabins are rudimentary but spotless and have bathrooms with stall showers and queen beds.


Where to Eat

A good idea is to pack snacks with you when you head to the park since dining options are a bit limited. The Park has three places where you can dine the Crater Lake Lodge Dining Room, Rim Village Café & Gifts, and Annie Creek Restaurant. It also has one grocery store, Mazama Village Camper Store, which is open throughout the peak visitor spell. If you visit the park during the summer seaon, make sure to make dining reservations beforehand.


Fees & Permits

The entrance fee of the park is $10 per car. If you camp at Mazama Campground, each tent site will incur a cost of $21 and an RV site will cost you $27 to $29. If you decide to camp in the Lost Creek Campground, it will cost you $10 per site. If you want to go for backcountry camping, you would have to register yourself.


What to Do

Here are some of the things that you should definitely put on your itinerary when you visit the Crater Lake National Park.


Stopover at the Visitor’s Centers

There are two Visitor’s Centers in the park. The Steel Information Center is south of the lake off Ore. 62 and is open every day year-round. If you are interested in finding out everything about how the Crater Lake and the National Park came to be, then you should definitely watch the film shown at this Visitor’s Center. It is 22 minutes long and plays after every hour and a half. The staff of the center consists of knowledgeable and welcoming park rangers who will answer all of your queries and help you plan out your trip. You can chat with them to find out about the weather forecast and buy guides and maps of the park.

The other visitor’s center is the Rim visitor Center located in Rim Village on the southern side of the lake. It’s open to visitors on a daily basis from June to September. You can access various books containing general information about the park and purchase different maps outlining the trails that are sprawled across the park. Plus, the center has a short cemented trail leading to the Sinnott Overlook, a prime location which provides exquisite views of Crater Lake as well as numerous other views of the surrounding areas.


Drive across the Rim Drive

After the visitor’s center, you should drive up to the main view area. The Rim Drive is a 33-mile (53-kilometer) road that encircles the entire Crater Lake. Drive up this road to get a chance to see the lake from every imaginable angle. You can park your car in the parking lot of the nearby gift shop and walk the short way up to the rim of the cliff to get your first view of the gorgeous Crater Lake.


Sunrise at Crater Lake

The panoramic view of the striking blue lake will surely take our breath away. It is a magical sight to behold. Take your time to observe the expansive deep blue lake and the peculiar shadows that the clouds cast on the crater walls. Watching the sun slowly climb above the crater rim will be the highlight of your trip. The gorgeous rays highlight the surrounding area with their bright yellow and orange hues, making for an excellent and picturesque view.


Boating at the Wizard Island

Next, you can ride a boat to the Wizard Island that is situated on the lake. You can take the Wizard Island Shuttle, which departs from Cleetwood Cove. To reach the clove, you hike up the sharp Cleetwood Trail situated on the northern side of Crater Lake. The tour is of three wholesome hours in which you get to hike on and explore the Wizard Island and swim in the waters.


Hiking to the Garfield Peak

The Crater Lake National Park also presents various hiking opportunities as well that might pique your interest. The park houses around 90 miles (145 kilometers) of tracks and trails, almost all of which take about a day to hike. So, take a Crater Lake map with you and head out on any of the park’s trails for an adventure-filled day.

The best trail to hike is the Garfield Peak. It’s a vertical and arduous 3.6-mile (5.8-kilometer) roundtrip that will take you to an imposing peak. The views of the lake and the surrounding rim along the way, as well as at the summit, are absolutely spectacular. The wondrous hike will take about 2 to 3 hours of your day.


Visit the Plaikni Falls

A must-visit natural feature at the park, aside from Crater Lake, is the Plaikni Falls. It’s a much underrated spot that you can reach if you hike on Pinnacles Road off the central Rim Drive. The painless 2-mile (3.2-kilometer) roundtrip hike will take you through a marvelous old-growth forest to reach a flourishing waterfall distinguished by its countless cascading streams and the grassy growth and vivid wildflowers blossoming around it.

Now that you have a clear itinerary planned out for your visit to the park, let’s take a look at some of the key attractions that the Crater Lake National Park has to offer.


The Top Attractions at the Crater Lake National Park

Apart from the striking Crater Lake itself, the Crater Lake national park offers a host of other natural elements that you can truly take pleasure in viewing. From soaring forests to volcanic plains and stunning waterfalls, the Crater Lake National Park offers a variety of natural attractions. So, let’s review some of the major attractions that you must visit when you head to the National Park.


Rim Drive

The Rim Drive is a 33-mile (53-kilometer) road that encompasses the entire Crater Lake. Drive up this winding road to get a chance to see the gorgeous lake from every conceivable angle. The Drive also offers over 30 picturesque pull up stops.

If you stop at Pinnacles Overlook, you will bear witness to 100-foot-tall solid rock formations with volcanic ash frozen into them. If you pull over at Videa Falls, you will see the most gorgeous gushing waterfall and the park’s bustling plant life. Pumice Castle Overlook will provide you with an exceptional view – an orange coat of pumice wore away over time to form the shape of a castle.

The Phantom Ship Overlook will provide you with a view of the Phantom Ship situated on the Crater Lake. The colossal rock formation appears as different masts of an ancient shipwreck when you view it from the Rim Drive. With so many spectacular viewpoints along the way, the Rim Drive can definitely fill up an entire day of your visit to the park.


Wizard Island

Wizard Island, the remains of a volcanic cinder cone, is the largest island rising out of the Crater Lake. It rises over the surface of the lake for more than 750 feet. During summer, you can take a boat tour to the island and then hike to the pinnacle.


Phantom Ship Island

Phantom Ship Island is affixed just off the shore of Crater Lake. Most visitors don’t have this unique island on their radar. It’s 400,000 years old – the oldest exposed rock formation in the caldera range – and made of lava resistant to erosion. Even though the island bears the resemblance of a tiny sailboat, in actuality, it is almost as large as a 16-storey structure – it’s 160 foot high. You can get a spectacular view of this island by hiking to Sun Notch or driving up to the Phantom ship Overlook.


The Pinnacles

The Pinnacles are a cluster of hardened volcanic pumice spires that are colored in varied hues of brown and grey thanks to years of water and wind erosion. Some of the spires are particularly tall and elegant – they are dozens of feet tall and they gradually taper to a fine edge. The pinnacles make for an interesting sight; they are enclosed by a chunk of vegetation-free land, which starkly contrasts with the flourishing greenery found around the park.

You may behold the Pinnacles from various overlooks located on the Rim Road. However, if you want a closer look then you can follow the half mile Pinnacles Trail or Road. It will lead you to the volcanic formations as it forks southeast off the Rim Drive and eventually descends through thick woods before ending at a parking location on the edge of Wheeler Creek canyon, which is also knows as Pinnacle Valley. This is a popular hike to make amongst park visitors thanks to the wondrous geological formations.


Castle Crest Wildflower Trail

If you want to take an uplifting walk, then you should definitely walk amidst this breezy and vivid corner of the Crater Lake National Park. Castle Crest Wildflower Trail is situated near park headquarters about a quarter-mile from the start of East Rim Drive. Head to this trail if you want to unwind and stretch your legs near the gushing creek and vivid vegetation sprawled across it.

As the name suggests, this peaceful trail has vivid wildflowers growing all around it. In fact, it was constructed by the Boy Scouts in 1929 through the park area that has more than 200 species of colorful wildflowers. Purple Lupines, purple Monkshood, yellow Buttercups, Monkey Flowers, Skyrocket Gilia, and glowing red Paintbrush are just some flowers that you are going to see here. The wildflowers blossom from mid-July through mid-August. When the trail was being built, the scouts created an oval loop that passes a spring-fed brook about four times. The trail also goes through several springs and seeps, but you can keep your feet dry by employing the native flagstone steppingstones and wooden bridges built along the trail.


Pumice Desert

This noticeable landmark is situated at the North entrance of the Crater Lake National Park. The expansive Pumice Desert encompasses 3,055 acres of the park land. This colossal patch of dry meadow was formed about 7,700 years ago due to the climactic volcanic eruptions of Mount Mazama. Before the explosions and the successive avalanches of pumice, which covered the land with over 200 feet of pumice and ash, the Pumice desert was a deep glacial basin.

The deep layer of the highly porous pumice prevents plant growth in this area of the park and adds to its “desert” like appearance. This natural site is speckled with volcanic rocks and even large molten rocks or volcanic bombs that are a courtesy of the surrounding volcanic eruptions. However, make sure not to carry these rocks with you as keepsakes since collecting these rocks is strictly prohibited.

The Pumice Desert is the established Research Natural Area (RNA) of the park. The major reason for this development is to study plant life succession in a harsh and unfavorable environment. So far, only 16 species of plants have been recognized and documented within the boundaries of this land.


The Watchman Trail

The Watchman Overlook or the Watchman Trail is arguably the best viewpoint of the Crater Lake National Park. It is situated at the top of the 8,013 foot Watchman Peak, which is a remote mountain located on the west edge of the crater. It provides a clear view of the inner caldera and the Wizard Island. The ideal time to hike to the Watchman Overlook is on a full moon night – the wizard Island casts a marvelous shadow on the dark surface of the lake.

The Watchman Trail starts from the parking lot of the Watchman Overlook, which is almost 3.8 mi (6.1 km) northwest of Rim Village. The steady climbing trail is 0.8 mi (1.3 km) long and has a 420-foot (130 m) altitude alteration. The trail has numerous switchbacks that offer expansive views of the Wizard Island and the striking Crater Lake. You can spot numerous landmarks from the Watchman Peak – these include Klamath Basin, Union Peak, Mount McLoughlin, Mount Scott, and Mount Thielsen.

If you are up for it, you can hike 420 feet further up the mountain peak to get more spectacular and panoramic views of the park. The uphill trail is pretty steep but short – about 0.8 mi. It goes through thin pine and hemlock woodland and ends near a notable fire lookout tower that was constructed in 1932. In summers, the trail is made even more attractive and scenic thanks to the blossoming of abundant and brilliantly multicolored wildflowers on the upper inclines of the mountain.


Old Man of the Lake

The Old Man of the Lake is a 34-foot long Hemlock tree trunk, which bobbles up and down the surface of the lake. The peculiar bit about this tree is that the 4 or so feet of it that is above the surface of Crater Lake always stays upright! The tree was given the moniker “Old Man” in 1896. It is said that this tree probably fell into the lake as a result of an old landslide. The rocks dislodged in said landslide remain tangled in the tree’s roots and contribute to its vertical stature. The wide surface, which is 2 feet, has slowly changed its color to white, thanks to gradual photodegradation.



Best Accommodations


Best Accommodations Here are some of the best places that you can stay at when you visit the Crater Lake National Park.


Mazama Campground

If you have to come to the park for a nice camping experience with your family, then the Mazama Campground is your safest and surest bet. It is situated just off Highway 62, about 7 miles (11 kilometers) south of Rim Village. It’s inarguably the best campgrounds to camp in for the night.

It’s a huge campground with 214 sites. All the sites are designed in a way that you get your share of privacy and tranquility – it gives off the impression that you are camping in the wilderness. The Mazama Village offers a variety of services as well – they include a café, grocery store, gas station, drinking water, laundry facility, flush toilets, etc. So, you can spend the night around a warm campfire and then stock up on fuel and gear before forging ahead the next morning.

Mazama Campground is open from summer to autumn – June to September. However, during June, the sites are assigned on a first-come first-served basis. During the remaining summer months, you can reserve 75% of them in advance, while the remaining 25% are booked on first-come-first-served basis. Make sure to arrive early in the morning if you don’t have a reservation since the campground entirely fills up by late afternoon in the months of July and August.


Lost Creek Campground

The Lost Creek Campground is situated on the road heading to the Pinnacles Overlook at a distance of three miles from the rim of the Crater Lake Caldera. The campground is controlled and run by the National Park Service. This small campground is open from early July to mid-October. The campground has a total of 16 campsites that you can get on a first-come-first-serve basis only; no reservations are available in this campground. Each campsite has a bear-resistant food locker and a picnic table. If you are heading to the park in July and August, then make sure to reach to the campsite early in the morning since the sites are usually completely occupied by mid-afternoon in these months. You can pay for the site in cash or by making out a check.


Crater Lake Lodge

The Crater Lake Lodge was originally established in 1915 in the Rim Village area. It overlooks the southwest edge of the Crater Lake. The huge lobby of the elegant chateau with its signature crackling fireplaces will take you back in time. The lodge houses about 71 rooms. It’s an ideal place to relax after a strenuous hike. You can sit in the dining hall and enjoy the panoramic views of the expansive Crater Lake as you eat your lunch. The lodge survives through large amounts of snow – an average of over 40 feet – that falls at Crater Lake National Park every winter.


Prospect Hotel

Prospect Hotel is the nearest Bed and Breakfast Inn to the park – it is only 45 minutes away from the rim of the expansive Crater Lake. If you want to experience old-timey charm and comfort on your visit, then do book a room in this romantic hotel. The historic Prospect Hotel was constructed in the 1880s and covers five acres of land that offers striking natural views. The wraparound porch of the hotel is a terrific spot for you to unwind and enjoy the scenery before heading toward the park.

The dinner house of the hotel is open from May to October and on most holidays – you can prebook it for weddings and large gatherings as well. The hotel has been remodeled and now includes 14 motel units and 10 main house rooms. You can call them in advance to book the rooms, the price range for booking varies from $90-$295. The rooms are decorated with graceful furniture, all the rooms have private attached baths, and the beds are layered with handmade quilts. They also have a wheelchair accessible room which you can book in advance.



Safety Travelling Tips

Here are some Crater Lake National Park rules and regulations that you must follow to protect the park and yourself from harm:

  • Camping – if you want to go for backcountry camping, you’ll have to get a permit. Otherwise, camping is strictly limited to established campgrounds.
  • Driving – don’t stop in the middle of the road and always observe the speed limits posted on roadsides. Watch out for wildlife and pedestrians and make sure not to go off trail.
  • Fires – they are only allowed in predefined rings in the campgrounds and the Rim Village Picnic Area.
  • Food – use bear proof cans to store your food!
  • Trails – always stay on designated trails. Don’t hike and climb into the caldera – it is banned. The only exemption to this rule is the Cleetwood Cove Trail. It’s the only legal and safe access to the lake shoreline.
  • Viewpoints – make sure to stay within the boundaries set by the rangers and don’t step too close to the edge of the caldera.


Parting Words

The Crater Lake National Park is an under appreciated gift from nature to the United States. Herein you will discover the most breathtaking lake and varied rock formations in different hues and unusual structures. Head over to the national park for a memorable experience. It is a great place to make wonderful memories and admire the best that nature has to offer.

And, while you’re at it, make certain to take this comprehensive guide with you on your adventure to make the most of your trip and to visit the best places in and around Crater Lake National Park.

So what are you waiting for; it’s time to pack your gear and head out.

Safe Travels!

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Exploring the Crater Lake National Park

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Exploring the Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park: General Summary

The Crater Lake National Park is a breathtaking and heavenly wonderland located in Oregon, United States. It is home to the gorgeous Crater Lake which happens to be the deepest lake in the United States with a maximum depth of 1,949 feet (594 m).

The fresh water of the lake is some of the clearest and cleanest water found anywhere in the world. The “crater” part refers to the caldera that was formed when a violent volcano erupted over 7700 years ago. The eruption left behind a crater in the middle of a mountainous region that was filled by natural rain and glacier water, forming this striking lake that became the main feature of the Crater Lake National Park.

Some other famous features of the park include the Pumice Desert, the Pinnacles, Union and Crater Peaks, Rim Drive, Steel Bay, the old-growth forests, and the Pacific Crest Trail. The park offers a variety of hiking and camping opportunities. It is also a great place for fishing enthusiasts as the lake offers unlicensed fishing opportunities.


Date of Establishment

A USGS expedition to study the Crater Lake was started in 1886 by William Gladstone Steel, an American Journalist, and geologist Clarence Dutton. It was based on the data collected from this expedition and excessive lobbying efforts by Steel that the Crater Lake National Park was established by then US President, Theodore Roosevelt, on the 22th May, 1902. Now, the park receives over 700,000 visitors each year, and the number keeps growing with each passing year.


Popular Season to Visit

The Crater Lake National Park is fully accessible during the late summer and early fall months. The park sees heavy snowfall from winter through spring, which renders the trails and roads leading to the park inaccessible. The months of July, August, September, and even early October are ideal for a visit to this park, since the roads, especially the ever-popular Rim Drive, tend to be clear of snow. All flower lovers should visit the park in fall since late July and early August are the months that offer vivid views of blooming wildflowers on the trail.


Introduction

The Crater Lake National Park is located in Southern Oregon, United States and is quite far removed from civilization. The closest metropolitan to the park is Portland, and it is about 4.5 hours or 250 miles away. The park is known for the striking and expansive Crater Lake that sits in a literal crater made by the eruption of an ancient volcano.


Before this eruption, the area was completely mountainous – in fact, the exact hollow that holds the lake used to be a mountain peak, known as Mount Mazama. The volcanic eruption ended up creating the deepest lake in the United States that holds about 4.9 trillion gallons of water!


The Crater Lake National Park covers about 183,224 acres of land. The rim of the caldera has an elevation range of 7,000 to 8,000 feet (2,100 to 2,400 m). The elevation of the lake surface noted by the United States Geological Survey is 6,178 feet (1,883 m). Crater Lake has no rivulets or streams of fresh water flowing into or out of it. The lake gets its striking blue water from rain and snow. The water that amasses in the lake evaporates or seeps underground. The lake is then replenished the following year with fresh water from the skies and the ground above.


The park can see temperatures as low as -3.7 °F (-19.8 °C) during peak winter time! January is the coldest month with an average low temperature of 18 °F (-8 °C). The park also receives measurable amounts of snow during the winter season that runs through September to June. The average annual snowfall that the Crater Lake National Park sees is 533 inches (1,350 cm). The snow accumulated in the park by early spring is usually 10 to 15 feet (3.0 to 4.6 m) deep! Hence, most of the roads that lead to the park remain closed through spring. The snow melts away in late summer, and snowfall is highly uncommon in the months of July and August, when the park is at its peak glory and the weather is ideal for visitors to explore the park. However, for skiing fans, the winter season is ideal for a visit to the park.


Although the Crater Lake National Park sees snowfall for eight months during a year, the Crater Lake hardly ever freezes over. The colossal depth of the lake acts as a heat basin that soaks up and locks in sunlight. This allows it to maintain its surface and base temperature all through a calendar year at a typical 55 °F (13 °C) and 38 °F (3 °C) respectively. The surface temperature of the lake does fluctuate a little, but the base temperature remains the same.


Anyone who has been to the Crater Lake National Park even once certifies that they’ve seen nothing like it. If you’re a fan of miraculously formed geological wonders that take your breath away, then this is the place you should visit for an unforgettable vacation. With its naturally brilliant blue color and small unusually formed rock islands, the Crater Lake National Park is a glorious sight to behold. The serene and romantic sunsets at the lake are a popular reason why tourists flock to this park. The picturesque and undisturbed landscape and various striking views that the rim offers are sure to inspire you. But wait! There is more!


There is wildlife in and near the park – including bears, deer, eagles, owls, hawks, and grouse. During summertime, songbirds and insectivorous birds can be seen all around the park. Crater Lake holds a limited number of fish (salmon and trout mostly) that were introduced by mankind – there is no indigenous fish in the lake. The park’s plant life is primarily fir and pine trees. However, the late summer and early autumn seasons see a rise of exotic wildflowers that cover the meadows and make for a splendid and colorful view.


Crater Lake continues to mesmerize tourists from all over the world. What was once a tall mountain is now an expansive and gorgeous lake. The uniqueness of this lake comes from its remarkably deep blue color that is only exaggerated by its clear contrast with the rush and ochre tones of the rock bodies that surround it. The intensity of this striking color is a result of the green and blue light waves that reflect off the clear and colorless surface of the lake water. The Crater Lake enjoys such pristine water thanks to the lack of any suspended sediment – the lake gets its water intake directly by rainfall rather than by a brook.


Visitors also head to the park to marvel at the breath-taking natural rock formations of the Phantom Ship and Wizard Island Today that stand on the Crater Lake. Plus, this park offers delightful opportunities for outdoor adventures such as hiking and camping. It is also an ideal place for fishing, boating, and swimming. Offering many attractions, your visit to the Crater Lake National Park might just be the refreshing and inspiring encounter that you’ve been craving for all this time.


So, let’s dive into the world of the Crater Lake National Park and see the wonders that lie there!



A Brief History

The Crater Lake National Park sits in southwestern Oregon, US, almost 50 miles (80 km) northeast of Medford. The park comprises of the Crater Lake, which is located in a colossal volcanic caldera, has hills and covers an area of 286 square miles (741 square km). The park had more than 90 miles (145 km) of hiking trails by the early 21st century.

The volcanic crater from which the lake was created, which stands at a diameter of about 6 miles (10 km), is the relic of Mount Mazama, a volcano that rose to 12,000 feet (3,700 meters) until it massively erupted about 7,700 years ago and destroyed the peak of the mountain. The subsequent eruptions resulted in cinder cone formations on the base of the caldera; one such cone, Wizard Island, stands 764 feet (233 meters) above the surface of the lake.

Crater Lake has an average depth of about 1,500 feet (457 meters) and an average surface elevation of 6,173 feet (1,881 meters) above sea level. An underwater mapping done in 2000 found that the maximum depth of the lake is 1,943 feet (592 meters), which makes it the deepest lake in the United States and the seventh deepest lake in the world. The water body of the Crater Lake is remarkably clear and you can often see clearly to a depth of over 100 feet (30 meters).

Archaeological findings made at Fort Rock Cave, which is almost 55 miles (90 km) northeast of Mount Mazama, suggest that humans were near the park area when the volcano erupted. And not long after the principal eruption, the region near the Crater Lake was populated by the Klamath and Modoc American Indian tribes. Interestingly enough, the lake holds particular importance to the Native Americans – it is a revered place frequented by medicine men, shamans, and other religious individuals during their search for vision and higher-meaning.

John Wesley Hillman was the first white American who stumbled across the lake on June 12, 1853. He was a part of a group of gold prospectors who had come to Southern Oregon and were searching for provisions when they came across the sloping mountain and the gorgeous blue lake. They decided to name the lake "Deep Blue Lake," and the southwest side of the rim from where he initially spotted the lake came to be renowned as Discovery Point. However, the name “Deep Blue Lake” did not stick for long since the locals preferred to call it “Crater Lake”. In 1870, William Gladstone Steel showed a keen interest in Crater Lake and with his enduring efforts and lobbying, the US President, Theodore Roosevelt, finally established the area as a National Park on 22th May 1902. Later on, Crater Lake Lodge was established in 1915 and the construction of the Rim Drive – the main road to the park – was finished in 1918.


Geological Formation

The Crater Lake National Park is based in a range of large volcanic mountains called the High Cascades. The volcanic movement in this region occurs because of subduction that takes place off the coast of Oregon. It occurs when the Juan de Fuca Plate— the tectonic plate— slips under the North American Plate. Compression and heat produced by this friction led to the creation of the Cascade Range.

Mount Mazama – the volcanic mountain that eventually created the Crater Lake – was built the same way almost 400,000 years ago. Ultimately, alternating levels of pyroclastic and lava flows took Mazama's overlapping cones to a height of almost 11,000 feet (3,400 m). As Mazama grew in size, many other volcanoes formed in the park and its surrounding areas. The major small volcanoes that formed with Mazama are cinder cones – there are about 11 cinder cones within the park and about 11 on its outskirts.

In around 5700 BC, the Mazama caved in on itself and lost 2,500 to 3,500 feet (760 to 1,070 m) in height due to a massive volcanic eruption. The eruption left a huge caldera that was completely filled up after a period of 740 years with pristine water that is now known as the Crater Lake.

The volcanic eruption also obliterated a huge chunk of the surrounding area. The ash produced during this obliteration developed into a soil known as andisol. The soil in the park is dark or grayish-brown loam and has stones, cobbles, and gravel scattered all over it. It is slightly acidic and highly draining. It also adds a quaint charm to the park. Crater Lake National Park is a must-visit. Let’s talk about how you should plan your itinerary when you are visiting this park.


Planning Your Itinerary

We’ve already discussed above that the Crater Lake National Park is known for its gorgeous and clear-water expansive lake and the surrounding rim that offers beautiful trails and strikingly picturesque views of the park. Hence, there’s no doubt that the major chunk of your itinerary will involve trailing and exploring these landscapes.


When to Visit

As a vacation spot that is laden with stunning geology, the best time to appreciate the park’s natural beauty is when the ground and mounts are green and the lake water is clear and reflecting the greenery of the surrounding rim. So, the ideal time to visit is anywhere between late summer to autumn – late July to early October. At this time, you will find the roads leading to the park to be clear of snow.

However, the park is pretty crowded during these months since most visitors prefer them over the harsher winter months, when the park and the surrounding roads are covered in snow. If you plan a visit to the park during summers, make sure to visit the lake in the early hours of the morning – before 10 am. The Rim Road is not swarmed with people early in the morning, so you can easily find an ideal spot to enjoy the views of the park.


How to Reach the Park

There are three ways through which you can enter the Crater Lake National Park. The most suitable for the west and south is the Westside entrance. To reach the west entrance, you will have to drive on Ore. 62 northeast from Medford.

Then there is the south entrance which is near the Klamath Falls. To reach the south entrance, you will first have to travel north on U.S. 97, next, you will have to go northwest on Ore. 62. The entire distance to the park is 60 miles.

Lastly, there is the park’s north entrance which you can access from Roseburg. This entrance is only open during the summers since the road gets blocked by snow during winters. To access the park via the north entrance, you will have to head east on Ore. 138. The entire distance to the Rim Drive is about 92 miles.


How Long to Stay

We would recommend that you stay at the park for a little longer than one day. You can take in the views of the park and the lake through your car. The next morning you can take an early boat ride and enjoy the striking views of the rim and the lake. Make sure to rise early for the ride since ticket queues start to form as early as 8 am. You can also spend ample time hiking in the nearby areas and thoroughly explore the park and the trails less traveled on.


Where to stay

If you want the rustic and historic charm of National Park lodges, then we would recommend that you stay at the Crater Lake Lodge. It was originally built in 1915, but it was revamped in 1994. The rooms at the lodge are small and booking is costly. You can also stay at Mazama Campground, the Cabins at Mazama Village, and the Lost Creek Campground. The Cabins are rudimentary but spotless and have bathrooms with stall showers and queen beds.


Where to Eat

A good idea is to pack snacks with you when you head to the park since dining options are a bit limited. The Park has three places where you can dine the Crater Lake Lodge Dining Room, Rim Village Café & Gifts, and Annie Creek Restaurant. It also has one grocery store, Mazama Village Camper Store, which is open throughout the peak visitor spell. If you visit the park during the summer seaon, make sure to make dining reservations beforehand.


Fees & Permits

The entrance fee of the park is $10 per car. If you camp at Mazama Campground, each tent site will incur a cost of $21 and an RV site will cost you $27 to $29. If you decide to camp in the Lost Creek Campground, it will cost you $10 per site. If you want to go for backcountry camping, you would have to register yourself.


What to Do

Here are some of the things that you should definitely put on your itinerary when you visit the Crater Lake National Park.


Stopover at the Visitor’s Centers

There are two Visitor’s Centers in the park. The Steel Information Center is south of the lake off Ore. 62 and is open every day year-round. If you are interested in finding out everything about how the Crater Lake and the National Park came to be, then you should definitely watch the film shown at this Visitor’s Center. It is 22 minutes long and plays after every hour and a half. The staff of the center consists of knowledgeable and welcoming park rangers who will answer all of your queries and help you plan out your trip. You can chat with them to find out about the weather forecast and buy guides and maps of the park.

The other visitor’s center is the Rim visitor Center located in Rim Village on the southern side of the lake. It’s open to visitors on a daily basis from June to September. You can access various books containing general information about the park and purchase different maps outlining the trails that are sprawled across the park. Plus, the center has a short cemented trail leading to the Sinnott Overlook, a prime location which provides exquisite views of Crater Lake as well as numerous other views of the surrounding areas.


Drive across the Rim Drive

After the visitor’s center, you should drive up to the main view area. The Rim Drive is a 33-mile (53-kilometer) road that encircles the entire Crater Lake. Drive up this road to get a chance to see the lake from every imaginable angle. You can park your car in the parking lot of the nearby gift shop and walk the short way up to the rim of the cliff to get your first view of the gorgeous Crater Lake.


Sunrise at Crater Lake

The panoramic view of the striking blue lake will surely take our breath away. It is a magical sight to behold. Take your time to observe the expansive deep blue lake and the peculiar shadows that the clouds cast on the crater walls. Watching the sun slowly climb above the crater rim will be the highlight of your trip. The gorgeous rays highlight the surrounding area with their bright yellow and orange hues, making for an excellent and picturesque view.


Boating at the Wizard Island

Next, you can ride a boat to the Wizard Island that is situated on the lake. You can take the Wizard Island Shuttle, which departs from Cleetwood Cove. To reach the clove, you hike up the sharp Cleetwood Trail situated on the northern side of Crater Lake. The tour is of three wholesome hours in which you get to hike on and explore the Wizard Island and swim in the waters.


Hiking to the Garfield Peak

The Crater Lake National Park also presents various hiking opportunities as well that might pique your interest. The park houses around 90 miles (145 kilometers) of tracks and trails, almost all of which take about a day to hike. So, take a Crater Lake map with you and head out on any of the park’s trails for an adventure-filled day.

The best trail to hike is the Garfield Peak. It’s a vertical and arduous 3.6-mile (5.8-kilometer) roundtrip that will take you to an imposing peak. The views of the lake and the surrounding rim along the way, as well as at the summit, are absolutely spectacular. The wondrous hike will take about 2 to 3 hours of your day.


Visit the Plaikni Falls

A must-visit natural feature at the park, aside from Crater Lake, is the Plaikni Falls. It’s a much underrated spot that you can reach if you hike on Pinnacles Road off the central Rim Drive. The painless 2-mile (3.2-kilometer) roundtrip hike will take you through a marvelous old-growth forest to reach a flourishing waterfall distinguished by its countless cascading streams and the grassy growth and vivid wildflowers blossoming around it.

Now that you have a clear itinerary planned out for your visit to the park, let’s take a look at some of the key attractions that the Crater Lake National Park has to offer.


The Top Attractions at the Crater Lake National Park

Apart from the striking Crater Lake itself, the Crater Lake national park offers a host of other natural elements that you can truly take pleasure in viewing. From soaring forests to volcanic plains and stunning waterfalls, the Crater Lake National Park offers a variety of natural attractions. So, let’s review some of the major attractions that you must visit when you head to the National Park.


Rim Drive

The Rim Drive is a 33-mile (53-kilometer) road that encompasses the entire Crater Lake. Drive up this winding road to get a chance to see the gorgeous lake from every conceivable angle. The Drive also offers over 30 picturesque pull up stops.

If you stop at Pinnacles Overlook, you will bear witness to 100-foot-tall solid rock formations with volcanic ash frozen into them. If you pull over at Videa Falls, you will see the most gorgeous gushing waterfall and the park’s bustling plant life. Pumice Castle Overlook will provide you with an exceptional view – an orange coat of pumice wore away over time to form the shape of a castle.

The Phantom Ship Overlook will provide you with a view of the Phantom Ship situated on the Crater Lake. The colossal rock formation appears as different masts of an ancient shipwreck when you view it from the Rim Drive. With so many spectacular viewpoints along the way, the Rim Drive can definitely fill up an entire day of your visit to the park.


Wizard Island

Wizard Island, the remains of a volcanic cinder cone, is the largest island rising out of the Crater Lake. It rises over the surface of the lake for more than 750 feet. During summer, you can take a boat tour to the island and then hike to the pinnacle.


Phantom Ship Island

Phantom Ship Island is affixed just off the shore of Crater Lake. Most visitors don’t have this unique island on their radar. It’s 400,000 years old – the oldest exposed rock formation in the caldera range – and made of lava resistant to erosion. Even though the island bears the resemblance of a tiny sailboat, in actuality, it is almost as large as a 16-storey structure – it’s 160 foot high. You can get a spectacular view of this island by hiking to Sun Notch or driving up to the Phantom ship Overlook.


The Pinnacles

The Pinnacles are a cluster of hardened volcanic pumice spires that are colored in varied hues of brown and grey thanks to years of water and wind erosion. Some of the spires are particularly tall and elegant – they are dozens of feet tall and they gradually taper to a fine edge. The pinnacles make for an interesting sight; they are enclosed by a chunk of vegetation-free land, which starkly contrasts with the flourishing greenery found around the park.

You may behold the Pinnacles from various overlooks located on the Rim Road. However, if you want a closer look then you can follow the half mile Pinnacles Trail or Road. It will lead you to the volcanic formations as it forks southeast off the Rim Drive and eventually descends through thick woods before ending at a parking location on the edge of Wheeler Creek canyon, which is also knows as Pinnacle Valley. This is a popular hike to make amongst park visitors thanks to the wondrous geological formations.


Castle Crest Wildflower Trail

If you want to take an uplifting walk, then you should definitely walk amidst this breezy and vivid corner of the Crater Lake National Park. Castle Crest Wildflower Trail is situated near park headquarters about a quarter-mile from the start of East Rim Drive. Head to this trail if you want to unwind and stretch your legs near the gushing creek and vivid vegetation sprawled across it.

As the name suggests, this peaceful trail has vivid wildflowers growing all around it. In fact, it was constructed by the Boy Scouts in 1929 through the park area that has more than 200 species of colorful wildflowers. Purple Lupines, purple Monkshood, yellow Buttercups, Monkey Flowers, Skyrocket Gilia, and glowing red Paintbrush are just some flowers that you are going to see here. The wildflowers blossom from mid-July through mid-August. When the trail was being built, the scouts created an oval loop that passes a spring-fed brook about four times. The trail also goes through several springs and seeps, but you can keep your feet dry by employing the native flagstone steppingstones and wooden bridges built along the trail.


Pumice Desert

This noticeable landmark is situated at the North entrance of the Crater Lake National Park. The expansive Pumice Desert encompasses 3,055 acres of the park land. This colossal patch of dry meadow was formed about 7,700 years ago due to the climactic volcanic eruptions of Mount Mazama. Before the explosions and the successive avalanches of pumice, which covered the land with over 200 feet of pumice and ash, the Pumice desert was a deep glacial basin.

The deep layer of the highly porous pumice prevents plant growth in this area of the park and adds to its “desert” like appearance. This natural site is speckled with volcanic rocks and even large molten rocks or volcanic bombs that are a courtesy of the surrounding volcanic eruptions. However, make sure not to carry these rocks with you as keepsakes since collecting these rocks is strictly prohibited.

The Pumice Desert is the established Research Natural Area (RNA) of the park. The major reason for this development is to study plant life succession in a harsh and unfavorable environment. So far, only 16 species of plants have been recognized and documented within the boundaries of this land.


The Watchman Trail

The Watchman Overlook or the Watchman Trail is arguably the best viewpoint of the Crater Lake National Park. It is situated at the top of the 8,013 foot Watchman Peak, which is a remote mountain located on the west edge of the crater. It provides a clear view of the inner caldera and the Wizard Island. The ideal time to hike to the Watchman Overlook is on a full moon night – the wizard Island casts a marvelous shadow on the dark surface of the lake.

The Watchman Trail starts from the parking lot of the Watchman Overlook, which is almost 3.8 mi (6.1 km) northwest of Rim Village. The steady climbing trail is 0.8 mi (1.3 km) long and has a 420-foot (130 m) altitude alteration. The trail has numerous switchbacks that offer expansive views of the Wizard Island and the striking Crater Lake. You can spot numerous landmarks from the Watchman Peak – these include Klamath Basin, Union Peak, Mount McLoughlin, Mount Scott, and Mount Thielsen.

If you are up for it, you can hike 420 feet further up the mountain peak to get more spectacular and panoramic views of the park. The uphill trail is pretty steep but short – about 0.8 mi. It goes through thin pine and hemlock woodland and ends near a notable fire lookout tower that was constructed in 1932. In summers, the trail is made even more attractive and scenic thanks to the blossoming of abundant and brilliantly multicolored wildflowers on the upper inclines of the mountain.


Old Man of the Lake

The Old Man of the Lake is a 34-foot long Hemlock tree trunk, which bobbles up and down the surface of the lake. The peculiar bit about this tree is that the 4 or so feet of it that is above the surface of Crater Lake always stays upright! The tree was given the moniker “Old Man” in 1896. It is said that this tree probably fell into the lake as a result of an old landslide. The rocks dislodged in said landslide remain tangled in the tree’s roots and contribute to its vertical stature. The wide surface, which is 2 feet, has slowly changed its color to white, thanks to gradual photodegradation.



Best Accommodations


Best Accommodations Here are some of the best places that you can stay at when you visit the Crater Lake National Park.


Mazama Campground

If you have to come to the park for a nice camping experience with your family, then the Mazama Campground is your safest and surest bet. It is situated just off Highway 62, about 7 miles (11 kilometers) south of Rim Village. It’s inarguably the best campgrounds to camp in for the night.

It’s a huge campground with 214 sites. All the sites are designed in a way that you get your share of privacy and tranquility – it gives off the impression that you are camping in the wilderness. The Mazama Village offers a variety of services as well – they include a café, grocery store, gas station, drinking water, laundry facility, flush toilets, etc. So, you can spend the night around a warm campfire and then stock up on fuel and gear before forging ahead the next morning.

Mazama Campground is open from summer to autumn – June to September. However, during June, the sites are assigned on a first-come first-served basis. During the remaining summer months, you can reserve 75% of them in advance, while the remaining 25% are booked on first-come-first-served basis. Make sure to arrive early in the morning if you don’t have a reservation since the campground entirely fills up by late afternoon in the months of July and August.


Lost Creek Campground

The Lost Creek Campground is situated on the road heading to the Pinnacles Overlook at a distance of three miles from the rim of the Crater Lake Caldera. The campground is controlled and run by the National Park Service. This small campground is open from early July to mid-October. The campground has a total of 16 campsites that you can get on a first-come-first-serve basis only; no reservations are available in this campground. Each campsite has a bear-resistant food locker and a picnic table. If you are heading to the park in July and August, then make sure to reach to the campsite early in the morning since the sites are usually completely occupied by mid-afternoon in these months. You can pay for the site in cash or by making out a check.


Crater Lake Lodge

The Crater Lake Lodge was originally established in 1915 in the Rim Village area. It overlooks the southwest edge of the Crater Lake. The huge lobby of the elegant chateau with its signature crackling fireplaces will take you back in time. The lodge houses about 71 rooms. It’s an ideal place to relax after a strenuous hike. You can sit in the dining hall and enjoy the panoramic views of the expansive Crater Lake as you eat your lunch. The lodge survives through large amounts of snow – an average of over 40 feet – that falls at Crater Lake National Park every winter.


Prospect Hotel

Prospect Hotel is the nearest Bed and Breakfast Inn to the park – it is only 45 minutes away from the rim of the expansive Crater Lake. If you want to experience old-timey charm and comfort on your visit, then do book a room in this romantic hotel. The historic Prospect Hotel was constructed in the 1880s and covers five acres of land that offers striking natural views. The wraparound porch of the hotel is a terrific spot for you to unwind and enjoy the scenery before heading toward the park.

The dinner house of the hotel is open from May to October and on most holidays – you can prebook it for weddings and large gatherings as well. The hotel has been remodeled and now includes 14 motel units and 10 main house rooms. You can call them in advance to book the rooms, the price range for booking varies from $90-$295. The rooms are decorated with graceful furniture, all the rooms have private attached baths, and the beds are layered with handmade quilts. They also have a wheelchair accessible room which you can book in advance.



Safety Travelling Tips

Here are some Crater Lake National Park rules and regulations that you must follow to protect the park and yourself from harm:

  • Camping – if you want to go for backcountry camping, you’ll have to get a permit. Otherwise, camping is strictly limited to established campgrounds.
  • Driving – don’t stop in the middle of the road and always observe the speed limits posted on roadsides. Watch out for wildlife and pedestrians and make sure not to go off trail.
  • Fires – they are only allowed in predefined rings in the campgrounds and the Rim Village Picnic Area.
  • Food – use bear proof cans to store your food!
  • Trails – always stay on designated trails. Don’t hike and climb into the caldera – it is banned. The only exemption to this rule is the Cleetwood Cove Trail. It’s the only legal and safe access to the lake shoreline.
  • Viewpoints – make sure to stay within the boundaries set by the rangers and don’t step too close to the edge of the caldera.


Parting Words

The Crater Lake National Park is an under appreciated gift from nature to the United States. Herein you will discover the most breathtaking lake and varied rock formations in different hues and unusual structures. Head over to the national park for a memorable experience. It is a great place to make wonderful memories and admire the best that nature has to offer.

And, while you’re at it, make certain to take this comprehensive guide with you on your adventure to make the most of your trip and to visit the best places in and around Crater Lake National Park.

So what are you waiting for; it’s time to pack your gear and head out.

Safe Travels!