Calm dazzling blue waters, scenic highways, and gorgeous starry night skies, Crater Lake National Park is one of the most mesmerizing places in America.
|Park||Crater Lake National Park|
|Things To Do||Sightseeing on the Rim Drive, Boat Tour|
|Hotels Near Crater Lake National Park||Crater Lake Lodge, Dawson House Lake|
|Price||$15 to $30|
|Camping Location||Multiple Locations|
Whether you’re visiting with a family, friends or embarking on a solo adventure, there are tons of things to do in the Crater Lake National Park.
In this post, we’ll share our top five favorite activities to do in Crater Lake National Park, the best time to visit, weather, where to stay and much more to make your visit a memorable one. Let’s begin!
Introduction to Crater Lake National Park
Located in Southern Oregon, Crater Lake National Park is home to the deepest lake in the United States, Carter Lake.
The lake was created more than 7,700 years ago by the volcanic eruption and subsequent collapse of Mount Mazama.
Thanks to intriguing beauty and spellbinding color, Crater Lake is a popular landmark and one of the most desirable tourist attractions in Oregon.
Most visitors come to the park with anticipation of seeing Crater Lake, but there are plenty of other natural features to enjoy including vibrant forests, bountiful wildlife, and an awe-inspiring mountain range.
Park receives more than 700,000 visitors annually who come to enjoy its refreshing lakes, spectacular hiking trails, picturesque overlooks, and charming waterfalls.
History of Crater Lake National Park
The interaction of people with this place is traceable to the time when Mount Mazama has erupted.
Local Native Americans witnessed the collapse and kept the event alive in their legends such as Klamath Indians describing the catastrophic event and creation of Crater Lake in one of their legends.
In 1853, three European gold prospectors came to visit the lake, and amazed by its beauty they named it “Deep Blue Lake”. But the discovery was soon forgotten name fell out of favor by locals.
In 1865, the lake was rediscovered by two hunters and several journalists went to see the legendary lake.
An American Journalist William Goldstone Steel read an article about the unusual lake in Oregon which intrigued him to visit the lake himself.
He dedicated his life to the establishment and management of the national park at Crater Lake.
In 1886, he assisted with the mapping of the lake. His hard work got paid off in 1893 when the lake received protection as a part of Cascade Forest Range.
Finally, on May 22, 1902, Crater Lake officially became a National Park.
Top 5 Things to do
From scenic drives to hikes and boat tours, Crater Lake National Park has a variety of attractions. Here are top best things to do in the park:
Go on sightseeing on the Rim Drive
The main attraction of the Crater Lake National Park is the Rim Drive which encircles the entire lake.
The beautiful scenic drive is the best way to see the lake from every possible angle and enjoy the brilliant landscape and scenery.
Almost all the key attractions of the park lie on or near Rim Drive inviting visitors to get out of their car.
The drive also features numerous visitor centers, trailheads, and pull-outs along the way making it an excellent option to spend an entire day exploring the stunning vistas and overlooks of the park.
Take a Boat Tour to Wizard Island
Take one of the most iconic boar tours in the Crater Lake National Park to the Wizard Island.
Rising 2,500 feet above Crater Lake, Wizard Island is a Cider cone created when Crater Lake was first filled with water after the volcano erupted.
The boat tour to Wizard Island is 3-hours long comprising of a tour of the lake’s perimeter, hiking to the summit trail, and enjoying the panoramic view, fish, and exploring this spectacular part of Crater National Park.
Wizard Island is great to spend the day with your family, relaxing on the shoreline and swimming.
See the Plaikni Falls
Plaikni Falls is one of the most wonderful yet underrated hikes along the Pinnacles Road off the Rim drive that is a must-see.
The 2-mile trail to Plaikni Falls offers unique scenery and takes you through the old-growth forest to a stunning waterfall characterized by vibrant wildflowers, grassy areas, and cascades.
It is suitable for people with all ability levels especially kids and elders can easily get through it.
Plaikni Trail is one of the best places for solitude lovers because it is comparatively less popular than other trails.
Climb up the Garfield Peak
Garfield Peak hike is one of the absolute best hikes in Crater Lake National Park.
There are about 90 miles of trails around Crater Lake but Garfield Peak is one of the “don’t miss” opportunities.
A steep 3.6-mile round-trip to the commending peak offers one of the best views of the entire park featuring the lake and surrounding landscape.
Try the hike on a clear day in the early morning for the best experience.
Stop at the Pinnacles overlook
The Pinnacles is a unique geological feature of the Crater Lake National Park, located 6-miles off the Rim Drive.
Shaped due to the collapse of Mount Mazama, the Pinnacles are a group of pumice spires with varying colors of brown and grey formed by erosion.
Surrounding lush forests provides a stark contrast with Pinnaces giving offering an entirely different sightseeing option for the visitors.
Best Time to Visit
If you’re planning to hike, July, August, or September are the ideal months to visit Crater Lake National Park because the snow is completely melted down and the roads, trails, and facilities are fully open.
May and June can bring severe snowstorms or harsh sunny skies, so avoid visiting the park during these months.
Download the official Crater Lake Map showing roads, trails, campgrounds, and other main attractions. You can download the PDF map of the park here.
Be aware that most of the park’s roads and trails are closed from November through June due to heavy snow, so make sure to check out the current weather conditions and find what is open and closed right now.
Hotels Near Crater Lake National Park
There are plenty of places to stay inside and outside of the Crater Lake National Park, ranging from cozy campsites or historic lodges:
- Crater Lake Lodge
- The Cabins at Mazama Village
- Eagle Crater Lake Inn
- Dawson House Lake
- Prospect Historic Hotel
The Park has two developed campgrounds including Lost Creek Campground and Mazama Campground.
Lost Creek has 16 campsites for tents only, whereas Mazama Campground offers the most 214 campsites for both tents and RVs.
Camping is only allowed for guests with a backcountry permit. Reservations are available on a first-come-first-served basis. For more info, visit nps.gov.com.
Crater Lake National Park has a dry-summer subarctic climate. December is the coldest month with an average temperature of 33°F.
While August is the Warmest month with an average temperature of 69°F. The snowfall is common at higher elevations especially at Lake Carter which completely becomes invisible in the winters.
Do check out the current weather of the park to see if there are any ongoing alerts before visiting.
Entry Fee & Passes
The entry fee for Crater Lake National Park is $30 for a vehicle, $25 for a motorcycle, and $15 for pedestrians and bicycles, good for the next seven days from the day of purchase.
The park’s Annual pass costs $55 and can be used at Lava Beds National Monument as well.
If you’re wondering what to pack for your first trip to Crater Lake National Park, here are 12 must-have items you need to bring with you:
- Warm clothing
- Thick Socks
- Sunscreen & hat
- Hiking Boots or trainers
- Water bottles & Healthy snacks
- Sleeping bag
- First-aid kit
How much time do I Need to Explore Crater Lake National Park?
Three days and one night trip will suffice to explore the park and see all the main points of interest.
Which Lake Carter Entrance is the best?
Rim Drive is one of the most scenic entrances of Crater Lake National Park that allows you to see the park from every possible angle.
What Animals should I expect to see in Crater Lake National Park?
The Park has an abundant amount of wildlife including bears, elk, porcupine, coyotes, as well as a wide species of fish, birds, and insects.