Discover Crater Lake National Park

Nestled within the rugged peaks of the Cascade Mountains in southern Oregon lies one of nature’s most breathtaking wonders: Crater Lake National Park. Renowned for its stunning cerulean waters, dramatic cliffs, and diverse ecosystems, Crater Lake offers visitors a transcendent experience amidst unparalleled natural beauty.

Established as the nation’s sixth national park in 1902, Crater Lake is home to the deepest lake in the United States, plunging to depths of nearly 2,000 feet. Created over 7,700 years ago by the collapse of Mount Mazama after a volcanic eruption, the lake’s pristine waters captivate all who behold them. Its intense blue hue, caused by the purity and depth of the water, leaves visitors in awe and provides a stunning backdrop for exploration and adventure.

Beyond the mesmerizing lake itself, Crater Lake National Park boasts a wealth of outdoor activities and attractions for adventurers of all kinds. Hiking enthusiasts can explore over 90 miles of trails, leading to breathtaking vistas, lush forests, and hidden waterfalls. For those seeking a more adrenaline-fueled experience, opportunities for camping, fishing, and even scuba diving in the crystal-clear waters await.

The park’s diverse ecosystems support a rich array of wildlife, including black bears, elk, and bald eagles, offering visitors the chance to witness nature’s wonders up close. Additionally, the park’s cultural and geological significance is showcased through informative ranger-led programs and interpretive exhibits, providing a deeper understanding of its natural history and indigenous heritage.


Top 3 Facts About Crater Lake National Park


Deepest Lake in the US

Crater Lake holds the title of being the deepest lake in the United States, with a maximum depth of approximately 1,943 feet (592 meters). This remarkable depth contributes to the lake’s strikingly deep blue color, which is a result of its purity and the way sunlight interacts with its pristine waters.


Clarity of the Water

Crater Lake is renowned for its exceptional water clarity, with visibility often exceeding 100 feet (30 meters) during calm conditions. This remarkable clarity is due to the lake’s unique geology and the absence of incoming streams or rivers carrying sediment, allowing for unparalleled underwater views.


Record Snowfall

Crater Lake National Park experiences heavy snowfall during the winter months, with an average annual snowfall of around 44 feet (13 meters). In fact, the park holds the record for the highest recorded snowfall in a single season in the United States, with a staggering 1,122 inches (over 93 feet or 28 meters) of snowfall during the winter of 1932-1933.

Camping and transportation in Crater Lake National Park

info_iconBackcountry camping permits required for wilderness camping opportunities.

How to Get to Crater Lake National Park

Getting to Crater Lake National Park typically involves traveling by car or organized tour, as the park is located in a remote area of southern Oregon. Here are the primary ways to reach Crater Lake:

  • By Car: The most common way to reach Crater Lake is by driving. The park is accessible via several major highways:
    – From the north: Take Highway 97 to Highway 138, then follow signs to the park’s north entrance.
    – From the south: Take Highway 62 to the park’s west entrance.
    – From the west: Take Highway 62 to the park’s south entrance.
    – From the east: Depending on your starting point, various highways lead to the park from eastern Oregon.
  • By Air: While there are no airports within the park, the closest major airports are located in Medford (about 75 miles south) and Klamath Falls (about 60 miles southeast). From there, visitors can rent a car and drive to the park.
  • Public Transportation: While limited, some public transportation options are available. Greyhound offers bus service to Medford and Klamath Falls, where visitors can then rent a car or arrange for shuttle service to the park. Additionally, some tour companies offer guided tours to Crater Lake from nearby cities.

Places to Stay Near Crater Lake National Park

There are several options for lodging and camping near Crater Lake National Park, ranging from campgrounds within the park to hotels and cabins in nearby towns. Here are some options:

  • Crater Lake National Park Lodging:
    Crater Lake Lodge: Located on the rim of the caldera, Crater Lake Lodge offers rustic accommodations with breathtaking views of the lake. The lodge features cozy rooms, a dining room serving Pacific Northwest cuisine, and a gift shop. Reservations are highly recommended, especially during peak season.
    The Cabins at Mazama Village: Situated near the park’s south entrance, Mazama Village offers a range of cabins and motel rooms, as well as camping and RV sites. The cabins are equipped with modern amenities and provide a comfortable base for exploring the park.
  • Campgrounds within Crater Lake National Park:
    Mazama Campground: Located near the park’s south entrance, Mazama Campground offers tent and RV camping with amenities such as restrooms, picnic tables, and fire pits. Reservations are recommended during the summer months.
    Lost Creek Campground: This smaller, more primitive campground is located near the park’s north entrance and offers a quieter camping experience. Facilities include pit toilets and picnic tables, but no potable water is available, so campers must bring their own.
  • Private Campgrounds:
    Prospect RV Park & Motel: Located about 30 miles from Crater Lake, Prospect RV Park & Motel offers RV sites, tent camping, and motel rooms. Amenities include full hookups, hot showers, laundry facilities, and a general store.
    Diamond Lake Resort: Situated about 20 miles north of Crater Lake, Diamond Lake Resort offers a variety of lodging options, including cabins, RV sites, and tent camping. The resort also features a marina, restaurant, and recreational activities such as fishing, boating, and hiking.
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Best Time to Go to Crater Lake National Park



Summer is the peak season for visiting Crater Lake National Park, and for good reason. From July to September, the park experiences warm, sunny days and clear skies, making it an ideal time for outdoor activities such as hiking, boating, and wildlife viewing. Rim Drive and all park facilities are typically open during the summer months, allowing visitors to explore the park’s iconic viewpoints, visitor centers, and historic landmarks.

The calm waters of Crater Lake are perfect for swimming and kayaking, providing refreshing relief from the summer heat. However, with the increased visitation during this time, expect larger crowds and limited parking at popular attractions. Advance reservations for lodging and camping are highly recommended to secure accommodations during the busy summer season.



Winter transforms Crater Lake National Park into a serene winter wonderland, offering a unique and enchanting experience for adventurous visitors. From December to March, the park receives heavy snowfall, transforming the landscape into a pristine blanket of white. While Rim Drive and some facilities are closed during the winter months, opportunities for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling abound, allowing visitors to explore the park’s snowy landscapes in solitude.

The deep blue waters of Crater Lake contrast beautifully with the surrounding snow-covered cliffs, creating a scene of unparalleled beauty. Winter visitors should come prepared for cold temperatures and snowy conditions, and check road and weather conditions before venturing into the park.



Spring is a magical time to visit Crater Lake National Park as the landscape awakens from its winter slumber. During this season, typically from April to June, the park experiences a gradual transition from snow-covered terrain to blooming wildflowers and budding trees. The melting snow creates mesmerizing waterfalls cascading down the cliffs surrounding the lake, adding to the park’s natural beauty.

Spring also offers the opportunity to witness the park’s wildlife emerging from hibernation, with sightings of deer, birds, and other animals becoming more common. However, visitors should be aware that some areas of the park may still be inaccessible due to lingering snow, and weather conditions can be unpredictable, so it’s essential to check road and trail conditions before planning your visit.

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Must-See Attractions

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Crater Lake

Of course, the park’s main attraction is the mesmerizing Crater Lake itself. Marvel at the deep blue waters of this pristine lake, which fills the caldera of the collapsed Mount Mazama. Take in the breathtaking panoramic views from various viewpoints along Rim Drive, including Discovery Point, Watchman Overlook, and the iconic Phantom Ship Overlook.

Wizard Island

This volcanic cinder cone rises from the crystal-clear waters of Crater Lake and is a fascinating feature to explore. Take a boat tour to Wizard Island and hike to its summit for panoramic views of the lake and surrounding landscapes. You can also swim or fish in the waters around Wizard Island.

Cleetwood Cove Trail

This steep trail descends 700 feet (213 meters) to the shores of Crater Lake, providing the only access point to the lake’s edge. Enjoy stunning views of the lake and surrounding cliffs as you hike down to the water’s edge, where you can take a refreshing swim or embark on a boat tour.

Helpful Tips: Making the Most of Your Adventure to Crater Lake National Park

Plan Ahead

Plan Ahead

Before your trip, research the park’s facilities, road conditions, and seasonal closures. Make reservations for lodging or camping well in advance, especially during the peak summer season when accommodations fill up quickly.

Pack Appropriately

Pack Appropriately

Crater Lake’s weather can be unpredictable, with snow possible even in summer. Check the weather forecast before your visit and come prepared with appropriate clothing and gear, including layers, rain gear, and sturdy footwear.

Respect Wildlife

Be Bear Aware

Crater Lake National Park is home to black bears, so it’s essential to store food properly and follow bear safety guidelines. Use bear-proof food storage containers or store food in your vehicle’s trunk to prevent attracting bears to your campsite or picnic area.

Stay Informed

Be Mindful of Altitude

Crater Lake National Park’s high elevation (6,178 feet at Rim Village) can affect some visitors, especially those with respiratory or heart conditions. Take it easy, stay hydrated, and listen to your body if you experience symptoms of altitude sickness, such as headache or shortness of breath.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Crater Lake National Park

While you can certainly get a taste of Crater Lake in a single day, many visitors find that spending at least two to three days allows them to explore the park’s trails, take a boat tour, and enjoy the scenic drives.

Summer, from July to September, is prime time at Crater Lake thanks to the warm weather and fully accessible park roads and facilities. However, if you’re a snow enthusiast, winter offers a serene, white-blanketed landscape.

Overnight car stays, such as sleeping in your vehicle, are not permitted in the park. Campgrounds and lodging are available for overnight accommodations.

The south entrance to the park is typically the best bet for accessibility year-round. It offers a direct route to Rim Village, one of the park’s most central locations with stunning views.

You’re in luck! Mazama Village Campground and Crater Lake Lodge are popular options within the park’s boundaries. Nearby communities also offer a range of lodging choices.

Don’t miss a boat tour to Wizard Island or a drive around Rim Drive. For the hikers, the trek to the top of Watchman Peak is a must for an incredible panoramic view of the lake.

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