Crater Lake National Park

Located: Oregon  -  Established: May 22, 1902

The Park: The water was so still, I couldn’t tell if the Phantom Ship was sailing in the sky or floating on the surface of the lake. The azure blue water defied reality. 

Crater Lake is our country’s deepest lake and was created when the volcanic Mt. Mazama collapsed upon itself seventy-seven hundred years ago.  Since then, the huge hole has filled with water from rainfall and the over 500 inches of annual snowfall!

There are no rivers or streams feeding Crater Lake which means very little sediment is deposited into its crystal clear waters. With little sediment to discolor it, Crater Lake reflects an astonishingly intense blue hue.  

Trekking Crater Lake. Park visit  #41 .

Trekking Crater Lake. Park visit #41.

Getting there: Crater Lake is located in the southwestern section of Oregon approximately 65 miles northeast of Medford via OR-62. 

When to visit: Crater is open year round; however, the mountain roads approaching and inside the park are filled with curves and subject to adverse weather conditions with snow showers occurring at any time. The park’s south entrance is open year round. The north entrance closes each winter and reopens only when road conditions are favorable.  The summer season is short with wildflowers peaking in late July and early August.

Phantom Ship sailing the glassy waters of Crater Lake. 

Phantom Ship sailing the glassy waters of Crater Lake. 

What to do: If you do only one thing at Crater Lake, take the 33-mile Rim Drive around the lake. You’ll be treated to many invigorating views of this magnificent body of water. Stop off at the many overlooks and soak up the views.  Hike down the 2-mile round trip Cleetwood Cove Trail and dip your toes in the lake’s frigid waters.This trail provides the only access to the lake shore. 

Hiking Crater. Take the short Sun Notch Trail to view the Phantom Ship.  Trek up Watchman Peak and get a glimpse of the stunning and unobstructed view of Wizard Island and the lake. Visit the Pinnacles – the eerily colorful volcanic spires. 

Hike up the 2½ miles Mt. Scott Trail to the historic fire lookout tower and experience the view from the highest peak in the park. The Garfield Peak Trail begins at Crater Lake Lodge and climbs a little over 1000 feet in 1.7 miles. Both of these hikes are well worth the perspiration!

Crater Lake Lodge . One of the 16 Great Lodges of the National Parks. 

Crater Lake Lodge. One of the 16 Great Lodges of the National Parks. 

Where to stay: Crater Lake has two campgrounds within the park. The Mazama Campground features 200 forested sites with running water, flush toilets, bear lockers, picnic tables and fire rings. 

Lost Creek Campground, located off Pinnacles Road about 8 miles southeast of the lake hosts 16 tent only campsites. 

Perched upon the cliffs at the southern rim of the lake, Crater Lake Lodge offers visitors 71 rustic rooms.  Another one of the classic 16 Great Lodges of the National Parks, the Lodge features amazing views of the lake. 

Memorable Moments: The stunning view of Phantom Ship and the refreshingly frigid waters at Cleetwood Cove bring back fond memories of our visit to Crater! 

Crater Lake sunrise. 

Crater Lake sunrise. 

Trivia: At 1,943 feet deep, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States and one of the ten deepest lakes in the world!

Banner: Shoreline at Cleetwood Cove.

Experience these Check List:

  • Stop by the park’s two Visitor Center (Steel and Rim)
  • Drive the scenic Rim Drive Loop
  • Take the Sun Notch Trail and view Phantom Ship
  • Trek the Cleetwood Cove Trail down to the lake 
  • Visit the Pinnacles
Wizard Island

Wizard Island