16 Amazing Things to do in Crater Lake National Park

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Crater Lake National Park
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Crater Lake National Park is filled with amazing attractions, from the enormous, deep blue water to the expansive mountain views.

Crater Lake, one of the deepest, purest, and bluest lakes in the world, draws visitors to the park in anticipation of witnessing it. There are numerous ways to discover the park and use the lake, whether traveling for a day or staying for a week.

Trails spanning 90 miles wind through numerous forest types and ascend to peaks with lake views.

Things to do at Crater Lake National Park

1. When to Go

From late fall through early summer, Crater Lake suffers low temperatures and significant snowfall. More information regarding previous opening and closing times can be found here.

Crater Lake National Park
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The ideal time to go is in September if you want to avoid crowds. July or August are your only options, however, make plans to get to busy trailheads early to beat the crowds and find parking.

Here is a brief description of what to anticipate in Crater Lake during each season:

Spring

The weather is chilly, with nightly lows below zero and daily highs in the 40s. Less than 1,500 people visit each day during the spring, which means fewer crowds. Spring is not the best time to hike in Crater Lake because most routes are still covered in snow through May.

Summer

Daytime highs in the 60s are followed by nighttime lows in the 40s. By July, the trails are free of snow and ideal for hiking. By July, eateries and visitor centers will be operational. However, with an average of 7,000 people each day, the summer also serves as the busiest season.

Fall

By the end of September, temperatures start to decrease, with highs in the 50s & lows below zero. September is a fantastic time to travel because there are fewer tourists after Labor Day, with fewer than 2,000 visitors per day. Rim Drive closes again for the season around mid-October. The majority of the park’s trails are covered with snow by November.

Winter

Snowfall is to be seen in Crater Lake each month, with certain areas receiving an average of 10 feet of snowfall in February. But if you can endure the cold and snow, you’ll be rewarded with seclusion and fantastic chances to engage in snow activities like snowshoeing.

2. How to Arrive at Crater Lake National Park

You must fly into one of the nearby airports and then drive to Crater Lake due to the park’s isolated location (unless you live nearby!).

Although it will cost more to fly into a regional airport, it can cut down on driving time by several hours. Fly into Portland instead if you want to avoid a connection or find a cheap flight!

3. Accommodations Near Crater Lake National Park

Since there are only some sizable cities close to Crater Lake, sticking inside the park will save you the most time. However, the park only has a few lodges & campers. They are making it challenging to locate inexpensive accommodation.

However, there are lodging options in the nearby small towns that are accessible by car, including hotels, motels, and campers. Although these solutions require a long trip to get to the park, they are frequently more affordable and more readily available.

Outside of Crater Lake National Park

There are a number of hotels and motels in addition to two lodges inside the park.

1. Crater Lake Lodge

It is a magnificent lodge located inside the park that offers breathtaking views of Crater Lake, a fantastic dining area, and rustic hotel rooms.

2. The Cabins in Mazama Village

A group of rustic cabins inside the park next to Mazama Campground & Village Store Crater Lake Resort has recently undergone renovations. A modern lodge with 15 cabins and a local store that is 19 miles from Crater Lake Union Creek Resort, a resort featuring 33 cabins & a restaurant that is 20 miles from Crater Lake

A modern lodge with 15 cabins and a local store that is 19 miles from Crater Lake Union Creek Resort, a resort featuring 33 cabins & a restaurant that is 20 miles from Crater Lake

Twenty-five miles from Crater Lake is Red Blanket Cabin, an isolated cabin for adults alone with a kitchen and fireplace. Twenty-three miles from Crater Lake are the rustic, vintage bungalows known as Crater Lake Bungalows, which are reserved for adults only.

4. Crater Lake National Park’s Best Activities

Travelers of all stripes, from seasoned hikers to those taking a quick road trip, will find enough to do at Crater Lake National Park. The top 13 activities in Crater Lake National Park, involving hikes, scenic drives, campsites, historic sites, & more, are covered in this section.

1. Rim Drive

Rim Drive is, without a doubt, the best activity in Crater Lake. More than 30 fantastic vista sites and trailheads are dispersed along the length of this incredibly gorgeous drive, which circles the deep blue lake.

Boating in Crater Lake National Park
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One of the best spectacular roads in the US, if not the entire globe, Rim Drive circles 33 miles all around the rim of Crater Lake. So choose this activity if you can only fit in one in Crater Lake. However, Rim Drive is only completely available from July through October because of the severe snowfall from Fall through Spring.

For a quick lunch, while enjoying the scenery, several picnic spots are available along Rim Drive.

2. Boat Toor of Crater Lake

A boat excursion is an ideal way to experience Crater Lake up close. You can reserve a boat excursion along this serene lake, provided by Crater Lake Hospitality, for an engaging and instructive experience.

3. Cleetwood Cove Trail

The Cleetwood Cove Trail is the sole means to access the lake, and there are a variety of boat tours available, all of which depart from the boat pier at its base:

4. Standard Boat Cruise

A leisurely 2-hour cruise of Crater Lake that delivers up-close sights of Wizard Island, Phantom Ship, & other attractions while narrating park history and geology.

5. Wizard Island Tour

A 5-hour tour that goes around Wizard Island and Crater Lake. You’ll get time off the boat in addition to the typical boat ride to visit Wizard Island.

6. Wizard Island Shuttle

For individuals who want to stay longer on Wizard Island and don’t care about the tour, this short shuttle across Crater Lake to the island is the ideal option.

Considering that the Cleetwood Cove Trail is the only route that leads to the shores of Crater Lake, a boat excursion is only for some. You have to be able to negotiate almost 700 feet of treacherous, downward-sloping switchbacks to get to the dock.

7. Cleetwood Cove Trail

The difficult yet beautiful walk offers close-up views of the lake. This hike is essential if you wish to explore Crater Lake by boat or go swimming there. However, this 2-mile trip is difficult because of the incline.

Starting on Rim Drive, you’ll descend 600 feet over a mile’s worth of treacherous switchbacks. For novice hikers, these switchbacks may be steep and difficult.

Zebra in Crater Lake National Park
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You’ll need to climb the steep switchbacks back up after relaxing on Crater Lake’s shores or taking a boat trip. The ascent along this trail is comparable to ascending 65 stories. Therefore, only people in good form wearing appropriate hiking footwear should try the Cleetwood Cove Trail.

8. Sunrise from the Deepest Lake

The most picturesque part of the day at Crater Lake National Park is unquestionably sunrise. The sky, Cascades Mountains, & Crater Lake are all beautifully illuminated by the early morning yellow, orange, and pink hues.

There are many great places to see the dawn along Rim Drive, but these are a few of the popular ones:-

Off Rim Drive, Cloudcap Overlook is a convenient overlook. A gentle 3.6-mile climb to Garfield Peak gains more than 1,000 feet in elevation. The 2.4-mile Discovery Point Trail is a simple hike close to Rim Village.

9. Watchman Peak Trails

Starting at Watchman Overlook on Rim Drive, this 1.7-mile journey ascends many switchbacks to a former fire lookout that is now designated on the National Register of Historic Places.

The overlook rewards you with sweeping views of the reservoir, Wizard Island, & the Cascades. At sunset, Watchman Peak offers stunning views of Crater Lake, which are framed by the passing colors of the day.

10. Lodge for National Park Service

One of the park’s most recognizable features is the Crater Lake Lodge. This large, old lodge, positioned on the edge of Crater Lake, dates back to 1915 and offers unmatched views.

The Crater Lake Lodge is worth a visit whether you decide to stay at the rustic chalet or stop by the lobby and dining area. Unfortunately, because of the extensive winter snowfall, the lodge is now only open from May through October.

We wholeheartedly suggest taking in the views from the back terrace if you have a short period of time to spend at Crater Lake Lodge (maybe with a drink in hand!).

11. Mount Scott Trails

The Mount Scott Trail, which leads to the park’s highest peak, is among the toughest and steepest walks in Crater Lake National Park. Eight thousand nine hundred twenty-nine feet is Mount Scott’s highest point.

The journey begins on East Rim Drive & ascends to Mount Scott by following the ridgeline. The well-lit path offers several wonderful panoramic views of the Cascade Range in the area, as well as the Oregon desert to the east. The Mount Scott Trail frequently has snow on it year-round due to its altitude.

12. Plaikni Falls Trails

One of Crater Lake National Park’s most accessible and beautiful waterfalls may be reached by taking this quick out-and-back hike. There are several benches along the Plaikni Falls Trail, making it easy to pause and take in the scenery as you meander through the woods.

The two-mile, simple trip will begin along Pinnacles Drive, a short distance from East Rim Drive near Mount Scott’s base. Plaikni Falls serves as the trail’s destination through an old-growth forest. Along the route, look out for wildlife and wildflowers.

Although the waterfall is always in motion, the ideal times to view it are in the spring and early summer when the snowmelt is at its peak.

13. Visitor Centers

The Steel Visitor Center is open all year long and is situated at the Park Headquarters. A park film that provides a summary of the region’s geology and human history is available here.

The Rim Village Visitor Center is situated next to Crater Lake Lodge, further west along Rim Drive. The Rim Village Visitor Center is a great area to interact with rangers and shop for gifts.

Take advantage of the Sinnot Memorial Overlook, a little distance from the visitor center, while you’re at Rim Village. It offers breathtaking vistas and interesting exhibits.

14. Mazama Campground

In Crater Lake National Park, Mazama Campground is the biggest campground. This campground provides a great location for lodging close to some of the top Crater Lake attractions, with over 200 sites that can provide tents, RVs, and trailers.

Comprehensive services, including the neighboring Mazama Village Store, coin-operated baths, food lockers, & more, are available to campers only during the summer. Additionally, you’re close to a number of hiking trails and only a short drive from Crater Lake’s most well-known attractions, Rim Village & Rim Drive.

15. Crater Lake National Park Trolley Ride

Choose a guided tour if you are not interested in taking a solo trip down Rim Drive. In the summer, Crater Lake Trolley provides a singular, narrated Trolley Tour of Rim Drive every day.

Park rangers provide in-depth narration on Crater Lake’s past and the surroundings along the 33-mile loop on Rim Drive. For elders or anyone searching for a simple way to experience the finest of the park in one day, a trolley tour is a fantastic alternative.

16. Garfield Peak Trail

One of the more difficult walks in Crater Lake, the Garfield Peak Trail rewards hikers with breathtaking 360-degree vistas from the summit. If you’re searching for sweeping views of the lake & the surrounding mountains, take advantage of this route.

You’ll begin at the trailhead just off Rim Drive, behind Crater Lake Lodge, before ascending through hemlock & pine forests. You are rewarded along the route with stunning vistas of Crater Lake below. Then, as you reach Garfield Peak, the views spread out and welcome you with a really panoramic vista.

Sunrise in Crater Lake National Park
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Many tourists avoid this 3.4-mile climb because of the challenging elevation rise of almost 1,000 feet. But it’s worth it for the vistas of Wizard Island, the neighboring Cascades, and the caldera of Crater Lake. Just start your hike early because the trail is largely unlit.

5. How Many Days Did You Visit Crater Lake National Park?

The number of days you have to spend in Crater Lake will determine how much you can achieve there. The suggestions for how to prioritize your time with various journey lengths are shown below.

1. For One Day

Take a leisurely drive along Rim Drive, pausing at each viewpoint and climbing some of the lesser trails if you have one day. Remember to visit Rim Village, Sun Notch Trail, & Watchman Overlook.

2. If You Only Have Two Days

Drive Rim Drive on the first day. Take on one of the park’s more difficult hikes, such as Garfield Peak or Mount Scott, if you have three days or more to spare. A leisurely, elegant meal in the dining room of the Crater Lake Lodge will cap off your journey.

Short Summary

Your journey is undoubtedly worthwhile. Although you can go down to the river, the best view is from the top. Additionally, driving the entire rim in a few hours while stopping at most of the lookout locations is feasible.

Nearly all of the top attractions in Crater Lake National Park are located on or close to Rim Drive. Although there are other attractions in other parts of the park, Crater Lake is unquestionably the main attraction. And taking the Crater Lake Rim Drive is the greatest way to see it.

Because of its flawlessly circular, blue, and serene lake, Crater Lake National Park is exceptional worldwide. The fact that this is one of the few locations in the world wherein you can view a volcano inside another volcano is another of its claims to fame.

To prevent the introduction of invasive species, kayaking and canoeing are not permitted in Crater Lake. However, you can take boat cruises to Wizard Island and from around the lake.

Watching the sun slowly rise over the rim and cast a golden and orange glow across the landscape is one of the most unforgettable experiences in Crater Lake National Park. Any viewpoint or pullout will be done.

Final Note

We have made this detailed guide on Things to do at Crater Lake. We hope you like it. Despite the fact that Crater Lake National Park has a tonne of amazing things to do, you may use this guide to organize your visit. Drive the whole loop of the Rim Drive, go hiking on the Cleetwood Cove Trail, tour Crater Lake by boat, hike the Watchman Peak Trail, see the Crater Lake Lodge, and make a pit break at the Rim Village Visitor Center.

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