A Vacationer’s Guide to Crater Lake

Crater Lake, OR, with blue water, clouds in the sky, and trees.

Welcome to the captivating oasis of Crater Lake National Park, a natural wonder nestled in the Cascade Mountains in southern Oregon. This blog is your ultimate guide for a memorable Oregon vacation, exploring the hidden gems around America’s deepest and bluest lake.

Dive into the rich history of the ninth-deepest lake in the world at nearly 2,000 feet and a remnant of Mount Mazama, an ancient volcano that erupted 7,700 years ago. As Oregon’s sole national park, Crater Lake National Park covers just under 185,000 acres, scattered with enchanting old-growth forests and archaic volcano remains.

Join us on an adventure in this paradise with our vacationer’s guide, leading you to mesmerizing views and connecting you with the splendor of nature!

Things To Do and See in Crater Lake National Park

Summer and Fall Activities in Crater Lake

The nation’s fifth-oldest national park experiences a dry summer subarctic climate, featuring warm to cool temperatures in July and August. Highs top at 70° F, lows drop to 42° F, and the onset of autumn is swift when September arrives. Mid-September to November brings warm days and cold nights, with a chance of snow averaging 21 inches each October.

Explore our list of activities to enjoy under sunny skies at Crater Lake National Park!

Hiking and Backpacking

The national park offers a variety of hiking trails, from leisurely hikes to challenging backcountry treks. Overnight backcountry hiking is allowed but requires a permit. With 28 trails at varying skill levels, visitors can choose their routes and experience extraordinary views! Some hiking trails with stunning panoramic views include

  • Castle Crest Wildflower Garden Trail—easy
  • Sun Notch Trail—easy
  • Discovery Point Trail—easy
  • Cleetwood Cove Trail—moderate
  • Watchman Peak Trail—moderate
  • Crater Lake Rim Scenic Drive Trail—hard

Roam Mount Scott Trail to reach the park’s highest point, revealing a 420,000-year-old stratovolcano. Explore geological wonders while hiking, or traverse the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,650-mile route open to hikers and equestrians from Canada to Mexico.

Driving and Biking the Scenic Rim Drive 

Embark on the 33-mile Rim Drive, a narrow and winding road with a speed limit of 35 mph, and presents a unique journey with unparalleled views through the park’s landscapes. Expect road-sharing with cyclists, as riders and drivers use the same route. For a challenging adventure on a bike, consider joining the annual Ride the Rim event. Enjoy one of the world’s most beautiful views while cycling!

Woman with backpack on sits on a rock, watching the sunset over Crater Lake in summer


Overlooks and Pull-Offs

There are 30 scenic overlooks and pull-offs along Highway 62 and Rim Drive that offer unique sights and exploration opportunities, such as Llao Rock. This extraordinary formation sits 1,800 feet above the lake on the park’s north side and can be reached by a 1.3-mile hike from Rim Drive. Other overlooks with stunning views include:

  • Cloudcap
  • Pumice Castle
  • The Pinnacles
  • Sinnott Memorial
  • Watchman

Rim Village Walking Tour and Trolley Tour

Explore the self-guided, dog-friendly Rim Village Walking Tour, uncovering rich history leisurely. The Rim Village Visitor Center serves as a meeting point, featuring a cafe and gift shop for a quick break during your delightful exploration. Alternately, try Trolley Tours from Crater Lake Trolley during the summer, which provides engaging experiences with narration, trivia, and fun for all ages.

Boat Tours

Discover the clear blue waters of Crater Lake through a boat tour with gorgeous panoramic views! While Jet Skis and floatables aren’t allowed, indulge in a leisurely cruise around the lake, soaking in the sights of Phantom Ship, Wizard Island, and other natural marvels. For island exploration, hiking, and swimming, choose the Wizard Island Boat Tour, which takes you directly to the island.

Bird-Watching, Wildlife-Viewing, and Stargazing

The park serves as a sanctuary for native forests, including white firs and ponderosa pines. Under their protective canopy, shrubs, grasses, and wildflowers flourish, creating a haven for wildlife. With over 250 documented bird species, including notable birds like the bald eagle, peregrine falcon, and western bluebird, bird-watchers can observe a variety of avian life. Spotting wildlife enhances the park experience, as Crater Lake is home to pikas, deer, elk, coyotes, porcupines, amphibians, and even black bears.

Crater Lake National Park earns a spot among the top 10 dark sky locations in the national park system, as recognized by the National Park Service Dark Sky Team. A clear sky or full moon night is ideal for stargazing, as the absence of light pollution allows the naked eye to view thousands of stars, including the Milky Way Galaxy and numerous planets.

Waterfalls, Swimming, and Fishing

Crater Lake possesses numerous remarkable waterfalls, including Vidae Falls, Plaikni Falls, and Duwee Falls, adding to the scenic allure of the region. Feel free to cool off and refresh by taking a swim in the water!

Today, kokanee salmon and rainbow trout thrive in the lake. Although no historical native species are documented in Crater Lake, according to the National Park Service, native bull trout inhabit the streams. Fishing is allowed in lakes and streams. However, areas like Sun Creek and Lost Creek have conservation restrictions. Bull trout caught in streams must be released back for ecosystem preservation.

Two women cross-country skiing in Crater Lake National Park, OR

Winter Activities in Crater Lake National Park

Experience winter wonderland at the park, where an annual snowfall of 41 feet transforms Crater Lake into a snowy paradise. Rim Drive becomes a designated ski and snowshoe route in winter, offering a snowy playground for various activities like sledding, skiing, snowboarding, and more. Whether seeking thrills on a snowmobiling or a serene snowshoe walk, Crater Lake’s winter landscape invites enthusiasts to explore and enjoy the season’s offerings.

Where To Stay Near Crater Lake

Create lasting memories during your Crater Lake vacation by selecting from delightful lodges like Crater Lake Lodge or The Cabins at Mazama Village. These charming accommodations offer a cozy retreat with easy access to the park’s wonders. For an immersive outdoor adventure, stay at one of the picturesque campgrounds such as Mazama, Lost Creek, Diamond Lake, and Thielsen View.

Store Your Vacation Equipment With Urban Self Storage

Store all your equipment with Urban Self Storage for a secure and customer-focused self storage solution! Safely stow away your vacation gear, including telescopes, backpacks, tents, snowboards, skis, and snowshoes, in our storage units. We prioritize the safety of your equipment and provide quality service overseen by an on-site manager.
Contact us for a nearby self storage unit equipped with state-of-the-art security, temperature-controlled spaces, and packing supplies. Your valuable equipment is in trustworthy hands at Urban Self Storage.

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