Visit Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake National Park offers a vacation destination for travelers to southwest Oregon. Travel by car to this scenic park for boating, hiking, and biking.
Oregon’s only national park features a massive lake, formed after the collapse of an ancient volcano known as Mount Mazama. Crater Lake National Park is renowned for having the deepest lake in the United States that is one of the world’s most scenic features, with its stunning, sapphire blue water.
How to Get to Crater Lake National Park
Located in southwest Oregon on the crest of the Cascade Mountain Range, the 183,777-acre park is located between Bend and Klamath Falls. Medford is the nearest major city and airport, at 90 minutes distance from the park. Portland, Oregon’s largest city, is 5 hours from Crater Lake National Park.
From the north, visitors enter Crater Lake N.P. via highway 138 from Roseburg (about 92 miles), although this road is closed in winter and spring. From Medford, drive northeast 75 miles along Highway 62 to the west entrance of the park. From Klamath Falls, travel 60 miles on Highway 97north and Highway 62 northwest to the park’s south entrance.
When to Visit Crater Lake National Park
The main tourist season for visiting Crater Lake N.P. is late June through the end of September, with a high season of July and August. The park is open year-round, but snowdrifts can close roads even in early July. Winter brings some of the heaviest snowfall in the country to the park, with limited services available.
Because of its proximity to Oregon’s cities, Crater Lake N.P. can be crowded on holiday weekends, such as the Fourth of July and Labor Day. To avoid crowds, visit this park during the week and take in scenic activities early in the day. Also, staying longer than a day at this park allows visitors to really appreciate all its beauty and activities.
Boating, Hiking and Biking at Crater Lake
Access to Crater Lake in the summer is via the 33-mile Rim Drive, which encircles the lake and affords spectacular views from more than 30 scenic overlooks of the water, surrounding cliffs, and mountains. Volcanic features, such as mountains along the rim of the crater and a desert composed of volcanic pumice, are part of Crater Lake N.P. Streams, creeks, waterfalls, dense forests and wilderness are also features of this park.
Boat tours of Crater Lake depart daily for sightseeing from July through mid-September. Park rangers narrate these cruises inside the park’s caldera basin. Stop at Wizard Island for a hike or picnic. Private boats and flotation devices are not allowed on Crater Lake.
Hiking is a popular activity at Crater Lake, with more than 90 miles of trails. Shorter, easier day hikes include Annie Creek Canyon (a scenic walk through old-growth forest and wildflower meadows), Godfre Glen (great for seeing wildlife) and Castle Crest Wildflower Trail. Cleetwood Cove Trail (the only trail down to the shore of Crater Lake) and Watchman Peak Trail (for outstanding lake views) are both steep.
Biking at Crater Lake includes the 33-mile circuit of the lake, one of the most popular road-bike trips in the state. It’s a demanding ride, with numerous hills. A 21-mile out-and-back ride from Rim Village to Cleetwood Cove Trailhead is another good bike ride and could include a boat tour of the lake. Bike rentals aren’t available in the park, but Diamond Lake Resort near the park has summer bike rentals.
Crater Lake Lodging and Dining
Crater Lake Lodge is known as the finest national park lodge in the Northwest. Outstanding views from the rim of the crater, a rustic atmosphere, and modern amenities are features of this lodge. The lodge’s dining room affords views of the lake and Klamath River basin and serves creative Northwest cuisine.
Mazama Village Motor Inn, in the park, features 10 four-plex cabins. Diamond Lake Resort, 5 miles from the park’s north entrance, is a picturesque and popular family vacation spot. Lakefront cabins and studios offer kitchenettes, with motel rooms also available. A dining room, café, and pizza parlor are on the premises. Historic hotels and fine restaurants are also available in nearby Prospect and Steamboat.
Crater Lake National Park offers 214 campsites. Camping at Mazama Village affords travelers a well situated, guest-friendly, a 198-site campground that is well maintained. Lost Creek Campground has 16 sites along the eastern section of Crater Lake’s Rim Drive.
Born from a volcanic eruption, Crater Lake is the stunning centerpiece of Oregon’s only national park. A vacation at Crater Lake affords outdoor activities, lodging, and dining in scenic surroundings.