If you are planning a visit to Oregon in the near future, or if you live in Oregon, you really need to take a trip to beautiful Crater Lake National Park. It is one of my favorite places in Oregon, and I try to visit at least once a year. If you have been there before, try visiting during a different time of year and see how different it looks during various seasons of the year.
Crater Lake National Park features a deep, uncontaminated lake, that is a very blue in color; sheer surrounding rocky cliffs, almost two thousand feet high; two striking islands; and a violent volcanic past. Crater Lake is a place of vast beauty that is almost unmatched anywhere in the world.
Crater Lake National Park is located in Southern Oregon on the crest of the Cascade Mountain Range. It is halfway between Bend to the north and Klamath Falls. See detailed driving directions to Crater Lake below.
There are lot of things to do at Crater Lake National Park, and honestly there's no "best" way to experience the stark beauty of the park - that of course will depend on your interests, and how much time you have. You can hike and walk along the many different trails, or you can just drive around the Lake and view it from the different vantage points along the way.
My experience has shown that some of the best views are right at the Rim Village area. From that area you can walk along the rim and get many different vantage point so the lake, and Wizard Island.
Crater Lake National Park is open year-round, but access to the area is limited because of the large amount of snowfall it receives. Summer is probably the best time to visit Crater Lake, as you will be able to hike, take boat and trolley tours, or do some swimming or fishing.
If you are a photographer, Crater Lake is a must-do for you. Just be sure to bring plenty of film - okay, a large capacity memory card - so you don't miss a thing. Many photographers like to visit the area during the night in the summer to take stunning photos of the Milky Way as there is very little light pollution in the area.
In the winter, if snowshoeing is your thing, ranger-led snowshoe hikes are offered on weekends, usually beginning in late November and running through late April. Cross-country skiing is available on a number of trails and when the road is closed along Rim Drive. Some snowmobiling is available, but it is only permitted from the North Entrance (off Highway 138) to North Junction (approx. 10 miles).
Please call the Crater Lake information desk at (541) 594-3100 for details and reservations for the winter activities.
Rangers and NHA staff can assist you with your visit and help you plan hikes, give you advice on lodging and camping, where to access the Cleetwood Trail, which is the only trail to the surface of Crater Lake. They can also give you advise on the best spots for photographs of the lake, and the surrounding area.
When visiting, be sure to visit Rim Village, where there is a cafe and gift shop, and that is where you can take a trolley tour during the summer months. The Rim Visitor Center, the Sinnott Memorial Overlook and the Crater Lake Lodge are also summer attractions you will not want to miss.
If you have questions about Crater Lake National park, you can call the parks information line at 541-594-3100 and they will be more than willing to help you with plan your visit.
For more information on Crater Lake National Park, and other beautiful places in Oregon, visit the Oregon Outdoor Activities website.
Crater Lake National Park Fees
Car - $10.00 (7 day pass)
Motorcycles, bicycles & pedestrians - $5.00 per person (7 day pass)
Capacity of 1 to 6 individuals - $25.00 + passenger fee ($5.00)
Capacity of 7 to 15 individuals - $75.00
Capacity of 16 to 25 individuals - $100.00
Capacity of 26 or more individual - $200.00
For more information on commercial vehicles, buses, and school fee waivers, check with the park staff in advance of your visit.
Fees to the park are of course subject to change.
Driving directions to Crater Lake
Roads inside and close to the park are typical mountain roads with many curves and a number of drop-offs. Weather can change suddenly, with snowstorms even in August. Drive cautiously especially if you're not used to mountain driving.
From the South (Year Round):
From Medford - Route 62 north and east to the park's west entrance.
From Klamath Falls - Route 97 north to Route 62 north and west to the park's south entrance.
From the North (Summer):
The park's north entrance is closed in the winter and spring. Dates can vary, but typically the north entrance is closed from early November to June. Please call park dispatch for the latest road status (541)594-3000.
From Roseburg - Route 138 east to the park's north entrance.
From Bend - Route 97 south to Route 138 west to the park's north entrance.
From the North (Winter):
From Roseburg - Route 138 east to Route 230 south to Route 62 east to the park's west entrance.
From Bend - Route 97 south to Route 62 north and west to the park's south entrance.