CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK
Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.Gustave Flaubert
About the Park
Crater Lake National Park is one of the nation’s most awe-inspiring places to hike and see nature at its best. It is located in the Cascade Mountains of southern Oregon, with its namesake Crater Lake formed by a collapsed volcano. There is a 33-mile Rim Drive that loops the lake for many spectacular views. The vast size of the crater exceeded our expectations.
Check out the view from a boat on Crater Lake!
Live it up!
Best Things to do in the Park
- Take the 33-mile Scenic Rim Drive with numerous stops of amazing viewpoints
- Go on a boat tour and visit Wizard Island
- Hike the steep Cleetwood Cove Trail to get close up views of the lake
- Watch a sunset at the popular Watchman Peak Trail
Crater Lake is an awe-inspiring park. It was much larger and more grand than we had expected. We had a lovely time meeting new people, going for a hike and enjoying the moments along the trails.
Size of Park
Crater Lake is the deepest lake in America at 1,943 feet deep.
Crater Lake National Park was established in 1902, making it the fifth oldest national park in the United States. Located in the Cascade Mountains of southern Oregon, Crater Lake National Park is known for its namesake, Crater Lake, which is the deepest lake in the United States and is a remnant of Mount Mazama.
The Crater Lake National Park is the only national park in Oregon and encompasses an area of 183,224 acres. The beautiful lake has striking, deep-blue hues. The lake is almost 2,000 foot deep. The lake is surrounding a sleeping volcano and was formed about 7,700 years ago when a violent volcanic eruption caused the collapse of a tall peak. Other features in this park caused by the eruption are the Pumice Desert and the Pinnacles.
We loved this park, but we also arrived late in the summer when the area was plagued with smoke from wildfires, so we think late spring or early summer is a better choice. This park has scenic hikes and about 700 species of native plants that attract tourists from all around the world.
When planning a hike at the Crater Lake National Park, there are numerous trails to choose from. These trails vary in length and difficulty and offer different perspectives to appreciate the park’s beauty. Some of these trails are easy walks to get to an eye-catching viewpoint, while others are long and strenuous.
Some of the trails, especially the ones on a higher elevation, are covered with snow through the months of December to June and are closed for both winter and spring hiking, so check before you go.
Here are some of the hiking trails in Crater Lake National Park
The Pinnacles Trail is one of the easiest and most senior-friendly hikes of Crater Lake National Park. This frequently overlooked trail is situated in the center of the park. The rocks in this trail are shaped like needles and are called fossil fumaroles. Some are very tall and slender, and they are exceptionally beautiful to us.
The Pinnacles hike has a maximum elevation of 5502 feet and the 1.4-mile round trip takes an average person about 35 minutes to complete. This trail is perfect for you if you are looking for a less crowded spot. Despite being a short and simple hike, this trail has some incredible views to offer. Stop by different viewpoints on the trail to see the beautiful views of the Wheeler and Sand Creeks from above.
Garfield Peak Trail
The Garfield Peak Trail is a moderately challenging trail. If you hike to the top, can enjoy a 360-degree view of the park from the summit.
This trail covers a total distance of 3.4 miles and reaches a maximum elevation of 1069 feet. It takes an average person about 2 hours to complete this hike. You can locate this trail by the Crater Lake Lodge, from where the trail starts.
Cleetwood Cove Trail
Cleetwood Clove Trail is also one of the most popular trails in Crater Lake National Park. People take this trail so they can get to the lake, as it is the only trail with access. Many people love to fish on the bank or swim in water.
The hike along the Cleetwood Cove Trail is of moderate intensity and an average hiker can enjoy it; however, some steep switchbacks are challenging for inexperienced hikers. It covers a distance of 2 miles in total and reaches a maximum elevation of 620 feet. It takes an average hiker about 1.5 hours to complete this hike.
If you don’t plan to hike, you can also take a boat tour of the lake. We love to get out on the water when given the chance so that we can get a different vantage point.
The Watchman Overlook Trail is another one of the most popular trails in the Crater Lake National Park. However, due to its shorter hike and lesser elevation, this trail is often crowded with visitors. It is also popular among visitors as this Crater Lake hike arguably offers the best view of Wizard Island.
You can find the trailhead of Watchman Overlook on the east side of the Rim Drive, 1.4 miles northwest of the Rim Village. The trail is a 1.7-mile trek and takes an average hiker about 1 hour to complete. The trail reaches a maximum elevation of 400 feet.
Camping in the Park
Not only is Crater Lake National Park camping-friendly, but it is also RV-friendly in the summers with a reservation. When the roads are snow-free, the campground in Crater Lake National Park can accommodate RVs up to 50 feet.
Mazama Campground is located 7 miles south of Rim Village, just past the park’s entrance. It has 214 camping sites, each of which features a picnic table, a fire ring with a grill, and a food locker, which you need if you’re camping in the Crater Lake National Park because it is home to bears and other wild animals.
This campground is open only in the summer. It opens in June and closes in late September on the usual schedule but the dates vary every year depending on the conditions. This is the only RV camping option in the park.
Lost Creek Campground
The Lost Creek Campground is operated by the National Park Service, located on the road to Pinnacles Overlook, about three miles from Crater Lake’s rim. This campground has a total of 16 campsites, each of which is equipped with a picnic table, a fire ring with a grill, and a food locker. The campground allows wood campfires, gas stoves, and self-contained charcoal grills. However, this campground is closed to RVs.
Camping options near the park
There are other smaller camping options near the park as well, which work on a first come first serve basis.
The Diamond Lake Campground has 238 sites for tents and can also accommodate a maximum of 35 RVs. This campground is only operational during the summer months and closes down during the snowy months. It is equipped with picnic tables, fire rings, grills, etc.
Other campgrounds near the Crater Lake National Park include the Broken Arrow Campground, Thielsen View Campground, and Diamond Lake RV Park.
Crater Lake National Park offers numerous jaw-dropping views. Whether you are looking to challenge yourself by taking the toughest routes or you want to avoid the strenuous hikes to get to a scenic view Carter National Park will never disappoint you. Here are some of the most popular viewpoints that you should visit in Crater Lake National Park.
One of the most popular viewpoints in Crater Lake National Park is Merriam Point. Situated at the northern end of the park, Merriam Point is one the first things you will see if you take the western entrance to the park.
To get to this viewpoint, you only have to take a short walk from the parking lot up to the viewing platform. From this point, you can see not only the entirety of the beautiful Crater Lake but also the Wizard Islands. Its unobstructed views also make Merriam Point a great place for stargazing at night.
As the Garfield Hiking Trail is already mentioned, you might already be familiar with this viewpoint. As one of the highest peaks on the rims of Crater Lake, Garfield Peak offers a spectacular view of Crater Lake and also the rocky slopes in other directions. You can also see the Wizard Island to the West and the Phantom Ship to the east.
Discovery Point Trail
Another beautiful viewpoint in the Crater Lake National Park is the Discovery Point Trail. This trail is flat for the most part, making it an easy trek for anyone who wants to access the viewpoint. The trailhead is at the west end of Rim village.
On the way, you get to enjoy some pretty amazing views of Crater Lake and Wizard Island, as you walk along mountain hemlock and whitebark pine trees, which are a great sight as well. This trail is particularly renowned for its early sunrise walk.
Other popular viewpoints
- Watchman Peak
- Rim Village
- Crater Lake Lodge
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